Monday, August 14, 2006

The Bible is not the source

Reviewing Wayne Grudem's book, Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than 100 Disputed Questions, more errant Biblical literalism:

Click here for the first post in this series.

Chapter two looks at what roles Scripture states men and women ought to perform in the church. This week, we’ll look at the theoretical case now, and then next week we’ll look at the second half of the chapter’s practical application.

The first point, as it ought be, is that the church should recognize the equal value and dignity of men and women. “Both men and women are in God’s image, and we share that status equally. We are equally valuable to God and equally important to God’s work in the world and in the church. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is poured out in a new kind of fullness on both men and women.” (62) However, equal value does not mean equal function. [With emphasis added in boldface.]

I disagree with the equal but separate function philosophy. When did Christ present two separate roles: One for women and one for men? He didn't as best as we can tell given the way the church patriarchy altered New Testament scriptures. More from the review:

With Scripture as our foundation, we should consider where the lines in church practice should be drawn. “We should not make rules that the Bible does not support, and we should not add restrictions to ministry positions when the Bible does not justify these restrictions. Where the Bible allows freedom, we should encourage ministries by women as well as men.” (63)

I strongly disagree with "Scripture as our foundation" thinking. God is the source--not the Bible. From the first post in the series comes...:

This Biblical model can only be worked out when husband and wife each avoid errors of distortion in either being too passive or too aggressive with their roles. Apart from headship, the man’s responsibility is to provide for and protect his family. Apart from support, the woman’s responsibility is to care for the home and nurture the children.

Wrong. The woman's responsibility is to listen to God--not to the Bible, not to the alleged "headship" of men, not to a patriarchal church with an ax to grind. Women have equal access to the Creator, the Source of All Life, for divine guidance. Looking to men for women's roles in life, church, and family, is asking the wrong source. And that's a sin and a waste of time.

People taking the Bible literally without knowledge of how the New Testament was edited by scribes who had a particular sexist viewpoint of women's roles in life and the church is tragic. To cling to the ancient past not realizing the agenda that men had in writing, copying, and altering the Gospels for ideological purposes is truly sad. A reminder from textual scholar Bart Ehrman (an evangelical who started his training at the Moody Bible Institute, not exactly a hotbed of subversiveness) not to take the Bible literally:

I became interested in the manuscripts that preserve the New Testament for us, and in the science of textual criticism, which can supposedly help us reconstruct what the original words of the New Testament were. I kept reverting to my basic question: how does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don't have the words that God inerrantly inspired, but only the words copied by the scribes––sometimes correctly but sometimes (many times!) incorrectly? What good is it to say that the autographs (i.e., the originals) were inspired? We don't have the originals! We have error-ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them, evidently, in thousands of ways.

God is still speaking and alive in our hearts and minds. Why turn to a document that has no original manuscript and is a reconstruction filled with tens of thousands of errors from 1000s of years ago for spiritual guidance when we have access directly to the Living God today? Puzzles me. Do some based-on-the-Bible-only Christians think God is dead and the Bible is the only source of wisdom? I rely on the Living Word of God directly given, inspired, moment by moment of everyday. Look within. Pray and listen. That's my advice. I don't need a flawed idiomatically peculiar book written by men with their agenda to tell me how to serve God or what a woman's role is. That's for God to say.

UPDATE: I realize that atheists or agnostics who may wander in here may take issue with some of my statements because I believe in God as the source of All That Is. The context of my post was addressed to believers. However, I am clear that my personal faith is not scientific fact. I don't believe in imposing my spiritual ideas on anyone, and that freedom of religion and free speech are best served under the separation of church and state. Substitute the word, God, with the word, Self, and that's the common ground we share. Bottom-line for me...does one's belief or non-belief serve us in making our world loving, peaceful, just, more prosperous, and free from fear for us all equally? Doesn't matter to me if you believe in 20 gods or none at all, to paraphrase Jefferson. The God I hold in my being offers no condemnation either way.

Next, I recognize that some Christians do not follow the Bible word for word. But if you have questions, pray, meditate, and listen to the inner voice. You will get answers by calling forth the Christ that is within you. Seek and you will find. Peace be unto you.