Sunday, October 28, 2007

the Holy Spirit didn't write the Bible

These things run through my head from time to time. They're never the main thing going on in my life, but they're these true and plain things that I haven't taken time to write. I don't really know if anybody does. So here's one...

The Holy Spirit didn't write the Bible.

Ok, if you're a fundamentalist, you're ready to rend your garment and spit on my face. If you're a normal person, you're either saying, "huh?" or "uh, yeah, no duh."

The thing is, sometimes people get this weird idea that the Holy Spirit sat down once upon a time and decided to write a book, which later came to be known as the Holy Bible. And the problem is that the people who believe this don't talk about it as if it's a mystical thing, a ghost writing a book. They talk about it like it's a real book straight from the pen of God to the paper between the covers of their Bible sitting on the front seat of their car.

If you have this idea I think I can help you out. You probably were told that the Holy Spirit did indeed write this book, and that's what makes it flawless. And you were told that it's imperitave to memorize as much of it as you can, and to live by it. And you were told that it's important that you don't interpret or make judgments on it, but that you should just read what it says and do exactly that. Because the Holy Spirit wrote it. And the Holy Spirit is God. God said it. You believe it. That's it. Period.

And you were probably given tips on how to handle objections, really good objections like, why are there discrepancies between the different gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)? I won't go into those in detail because I'm sure you can easily find a good long list somewhere on the Net.

But this one about the obvious discrepancies is really important. The thing is, you were told that this one is easy to explain: the gospels were faithful accounts written by four different men from different vantage points. This is like if four eyewitnesses were describing an elephant, and could only be present at one place at a time, they would have very different accounts, but taken together, a reader removed completely from the elephant would get a good picture of what an elephant is. And that's a really good explanation if you ask me. But what happened to the Holy Spirit writing it? The problem is that the Holy Spirit has no vantage point. The Holy Spirit is everywhere. Omnipresent is your word for that. So if the Holy Spirit wrote it, you wouldn't need different versions that you hve to compile. If the Holy Spirit wrote it, then there's no vantage issue. But if men wrote it, there is.

The thing is, I believe you. The gospels were "written by four different men". Like you said. Not the Holy Spirit. And I'm sure they are faithful accounts, like you said, too. Stick with you story. They are human accounts. There's not a Holy Spirit account of "what really happened".

What seems most reasonable to me is that this Holy Ghost, or Wind of God, the same spirit that animates all life, brought clarity and truth and light and inspiration to some men in the first century who wanted to write about God and Jesus as they had encountered them. And so they did. And as a result, we have this collection of early human letters that we can read and appreciate and compile our own images of who and what God is. As we encounter Him.

And the same goes for Paul's writings, and James, and Peter, and even all the Old Testament stuff. The Spirit is way more mystical and flexible and way more generous with men than we've oft been told.

Friday, October 26, 2007

great company

AAAAAAAAAAAUUGH!

I work for a great company! It must be great because they tell me how lucky I am to have a job with them. it took me 20 @!$#fdjw9p%U(*$# minutes to log in to email on their GREAT email system. Not exactly efficient. But it's ok, because I get paid based on how many hours I bill my customers. Those 2o minutes were FREE! Thanks to me. I'm so generous.

Monday, October 22, 2007

in the blue

Once upon a time there was a ship floating aimlessly at sea. A small boat it was, but sturdy and true. The waves tossed and buffeted the vessel, splashing up its side, pooling its hull with water as if to spit in it mockingly. But the ship was strong, and whether of bravery or numbness, pressed on. For days and days it rocked on, steady, now drowning, now baking in the hot sun. With nary a soul to keep, it moved onward, perhaps, but if so not knowing where.

At last it came to an island, a small patch of earth with a lone palm. At first this seemed to be salvation—from the monotony of the blues, and the incessancy of the salty slaps. But the sandy shore did chap its hide, and the lonely tree gave but few moments of relief from the scorching heat. And besides all this, the boat’s planks were drying out and beginning to harden.

The boat drifted off again with a long, melancholy howl blowing across its gunwale.

For two long years the empty hull navigated the sea, aimlessly, patiently, persistently, ever reaching for the horizon. Or running from it. But the sea will have its bigness. The little boat had run so long that all desire was gone—either to press on or to turn back. The boat had finally come to a place where there was no memory of former purpose or plan, nor was there any hope of renewal. It was utterly lost.

a story too good to waste

My 5 year old, has invited the neighbor kids to join us for church or whatever this thing is we do on mid-day Sundays. The 5 year old has been coming, but the 7 year old is not sure he's in. The conversation basically went something like this...


Joshua: Hey you wanna come to Joy Kids?
Henry: I go to church on Sunday.
Joshua: That's ok. You can come after.
Henry: Well, I already go to one Bible study; wouldn't that be like doing two in one day?
Joshua: Not really. We talk about God and Jesus Christ!

Perfect.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

generosity

Last Sunday, we had some complimentary movie tickets, and a ticket for a free entrée and drink that expired the end of the month. We had already used several of them, and there were a couple left. We were hoping that Christian and Ally would use them. Saying yes meant we would need to babysit Reece (the cutest baby ever). They did and we did.

When they got back, they told us how they spent the coupons and their time, and they expressed their appreciation. And then Christian bursts out with, "Thank you very much for your generosity!" I told him he was welcome, but I felt uneasy with it. Couldn’t tell you exactly why. But I have always had a problem with people calling me generous. It’s almost like it’s a dirty word or something, like they’re accusing me of something.

I still couldn’t shake it Monday morning on the long drive to work. What is it with generosity? Why does that bother me so much? Besides that, I didn’t even pay for these tickets anyway. They were given to us because Christian, Brent, Christopher, Benjamin, and I suffered through an imax movie experience so close to our face that our eyes hurt for a week, and I had written the manager to complain. Christian had claim to his ticket anyway. I just kept thinking, I didn’t do anything big, anything extraordinary. That wasn't me being generous. That was just me loving my friends.

And then it hit me. The problem has been with me. I have had this warped view of generosity. For some reason I thought generous people were this superclass of humans. Big people. Wealthy people. People who have their act together. People who look down on the little people and have pity on their state. Benevolent people. And frankly, people who are better than others. And it would kill me if people saw me that way. Kill me quicker if they thought I saw myself like that. I don’t know where this idea came from. Maybe you’ve had this idea, too.

And then an amazing thing happened. Once I was able to put my finger on this thing, this thing I now know to be a big lie, I was free to rip it down. And I got something cool in its place. I was indeed just loving my friends.

Generosity is love dealing with the problem of abundance.

We had more than we could use. They had less than they could use. So we gave. That’s the way love works. No guilt. No ought. No pride. No division. And no room for feeling uneasy about doing it.

I started thinking that maybe love does lots of stuff like this. Maybe all the virtues are just love dealing with some problem.

Maybe...

Justice is love dealing with the problem of oppression.
Bravery is love dealing with the problem of fear.
Gratitude is love dealing with the problem of undeserved favor.
Loyalty is love dealing with the problem of being hurt by a friend.

Because somehow it's all about love. Everything good hangs on loving God and loving each other. And what's wrong with that?