Friday, January 25, 2008

The Bible Tells Me So: The New Testament

Last week, I looked at some of the problems I have with the Old Testament and asking what, for me, are some hard questions about Scripture. I definitely appreciate the dialogue that resulted and the gentleness and kindness with which it was handled.

This week, I want to think about the New Testament. As a member of a Church of Christ, most of my adult life has been focused around the NT. Heck, sometimes we're called "New Testament Christians," which seems a little redundant in some ways, but ok. I mentioned last week that I'm more inclined to take the NT more literally than the Old. Why is that? I will freely admit that one reason is that I probably just like it more. It fits more within my sensitivities. The way that Jesus is written about and talked about works more strongly for me.

People will naturally bring up inconsistencies between the Gospels, but my friend Adam Ellis had some interesting thoughts about that. If you asked me and Sheryl to tell the stories about the births of our children, we are going to tell those stories about the same subject from very different perspectives. We'll remember different details and aspects and perhaps emphasize different things, but we're telling the same stories. Now, that might offend Biblical literalists because it allows human frailty of memory into the discussion, but I believe that that is how God works, through human frailty.

What about Paul, the great writer and evangelist? I tend to view Paul through the lens of the culture he was writing from the culture he was writing to. Some of his writings might seem homophobic and misogynistic and condoning of slavery. And the truth is that his culture was all of those things, but Paul was trying to help create a reality where differences were put aside for the cause of Christ. But that also means that perhaps some of his commands were limited to the churches to whom he was speaking and not necessarily to us.

I'm not sure if that helps explain my thoughts on the New Testament very well, but it is why I take it more literally than the Old. Next week, I want to think about what the implications for this way of thinking about Scripture are, because there are some serious ones, obviously.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's correct - different people writing their interpretations. The "gospels" were originally titled "The Disciples of Matthew," "The Disciples of Mark," etc.

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