Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Good Book or a good book?

To those of you who've enjoyed the Cresspesto style I apologise that it's all got a bit heavy recently but I certainly need to do at least one more serious blog as it seems I've sent a few ripples across the calm waters with my last blog on the Bible

The reactions have varied from serious concern for the state of my faith to agreement and describing me as fab (bless u K!).

In response to Jon who commented on the site. My perspective would be that I didn't say the Bible was WRONG. I believe it reflects our humanity. The readings and psalm at Morning Prayer this morning reinforced this for me. We heard about Jonah being fed up with God for forgiving the people of Nineveh when Jonah thought he should have gone through with the retribution. Jonah goes off and SULKS in the desert and God reacts by giving him a tree for shade (Jonah chapters 3&4). The Psalm we had was Psalm 5 which includes a typically human burst of emotion: "O God declare them guilty! Let them be caught in their own traps" (Psalm 5.10). It reminded me of that bit in Psalm 139 (or 138 if you're Roman Catholic, I think) "I hate them with a perfect hatred." (Psalm 139 v.22). We may sometimes wish that people get their comeuppance but God's desire for us is always repentance and salvation.

These kinds of passages show me the very human nature of the Bible. Jon asks if this has affected my faith. Well for me the human nature of the Bible SUPPORTS my faith. It helps me remember that we are called to seek perfection in our lives but not to expect it of ourselves for no human being can achieve perfection until we are perfected in Christ in heaven. Yes God uses our mistakes and God used the mistakes of those people who wrote the books that make up the Bible to build and support the Church now and throughout history. I think sometimes we have to be brave enough to look at issues like this head on. Are we ACTUALLY doing what God wants us to be doing? There are all kinds of worthy things we COULD do but surely we all know of times when we've done things which though not WRONG essentially were not exactly God's plan for us.

As to the monks meditating carefully about things and then making the decision. Yes I'm certain that the early Christians thought and prayed earnestly before establishing the canon as we now have it. Does that stop us doing the same? Unfortunately a large number of Christians believing something is right does not make it so. The Crusades and the Inquisition must have taught us that. Of course God wants people with a true and non-heretical faith but to seek the kinds of retribution that humanity inflicted on heretics and non-Christians is surely not relfecting the desire for his people of a loving Creator?

Ian commented that he wasn't worried by what I said because he KNOWS me and has seen my faith in action as it were but that, if he DIDN'T know me, he might have been a little unnerved. Likewise Tim's reaction was that my opinions were different to his but, as he knows I've actually reflected and thought about it and "got it sorted", he valued it as an honest opinion different to his own though it may be.

Other people have questioned whether or not I value the Bible above other holy writings. YES. DEFINITELY. Does that answer the question? For those of you that DON'T know me, I have a strong devotion to daily Morning Prayer and the associated readings from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament as well as my own personal daily prayer life which involves Biblical reflection. I have not begun reading Good as New INSTEAD of the Bible but I will read it.
I think perhaps there are some who will not be satisfied with my response. Indeed I may have left some of you still in worry for my mortal soul. Fortunately I have faith in God as an accepting God, a forgiving God, and a loving God. In reading Good as New I seek to deepen my relationship with God and I believe God honours that. I also believe that others are free to believe differently.

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