Tag Archives: Bible

Garrison Keillor’s apt, amusing analogy


I saw Garrison Keillor perform earlier tonight in Myrtle Beach. One of his stories — I can’t remember if it was from his own life or fictitious — was about growing up in a strict religious community. He said members of the community were supposed to just read the letters of Saint Paul and then, somehow, he guessed maybe through force of imagination, figure out what they were supposed to do and how they were supposed to be. Keillor said it was like going to see Swan Lake and expecting to become a ballerina.

As with literary criticism, so with Biblical interpretation


“Further, if the [literary] work is indeed a stable object, about which careful readers can make objective statements, then why hasn’t there been an emerging consensus in criticism? Instead, the history of criticism seems to be one of diversity and change, as successive critics provide innovatively different readings of the same work. Even in the sciences, the idea of an objective point of view has been increasingly questioned. Facts, as Thomas Kuhn has argued, emerge because of a certain system of belief, or paradigm….in the wake of Einstein’s theory of relativity, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Gödel’s mathematics, and much else, it seems clear that the perceiver plays an active role in the making of any meaning and that literary works in particular have a subjective status.” — Steven Lynn, in a chapter on reader-response criticism, in his book Texts and Contexts 

Lynn’s quotation stands to reason, regardless of the genre in question.

This is not to drop myself, or to attempt to drop anyone else, into the false dilemma that says either we accept everything as relative or we hold to absolute truth. I’m merely agreeing with the premise that “the perceiver plays an active role in the making of any meaning.”

In ways that are more or less accurate to the situation in which a text was written, readers, especially readers of the Bible, apply their interpretations of Scriptural passages to their lives.

To make more sense of this, let’s flip the issue around and look at it from a different angle.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, a major research university has an original letter written by Saint Paul of New Testament fame. They have the very manuscript over which Paul’s hand once moved. All scholars and clergy, internationally, are permitted to view it (as much as travel funds allow). The scholars have the best possible understanding of the ancient cultural and social milieu in which the letter was written. They understand the language. They understand the themes, which they cross-reference with other letters written by Paul. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, all conditions are set for a perfectly accurate interpretation of the God-inspired letter. The social, cultural, literary, historical, and theological contexts are all understood to the point that a broad consensus — on the letter’s meaning and function within its audience — has been established.

What impact does this perfect interpretative situation have on a man in Marion County, South Carolina, who awakens to read his King James Version of the Bible and applies a passage to his life — while removed more than 2,000 years and a language from its presumed source?

MORE ON THE BIBLE & INTERPRETING IT:

“A Conflicts of Beliefs” — a bad document for Orthodox Anglicans and differences with The Episcopal Church

“Dear Lord, if only I had a simple faith in the Bible…”

Robert Heinlein with the counterpoints

Bible-based cult leader sentenced today

How and why community plays a role in interpreting the Bible

If you take the Bible literally…

How Purity Culture Kept Me Silent About My Sexual Abuse as a Child: Dinah’s Story


Colin Foote Burch:

Another Bible-based disaster.

Originally posted on Homeschoolers Anonymous:

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.04.46 AM

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Dinah” is a pseudonym.

Trigger warning: discussion of child sexual abuse.

I’m going to be honest—growing up in the Christian homeschooling world is hard.

People in the community that I grew up in were picture perfect families, with all their perfect children all in a perfect row, making perfect grades, milling their own wheat and making their own bread.  They were highly esteemed Christians who (of course) have a home church and serve their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. These people sound like they’d be lovely to be around, however, that was not the vibe I got at all. There is a heavy feeling that comes with being around those families—judgment:

You don’t mill your own wheat? Shame on you! Don’t you know store bought bread has chemicals? You don’t pastor your own church? Shame on you! Don’t you know…

View original 1,050 more words

Mark Driscoll past rebukes Mark Driscoll future, gives grounds for his own dismissal from Mars Hill Church ministry


On March 27, 2011, Pastor Mark Driscoll preached a sermon at the Mars Hill Church Ballard campus in Seattle.

I had searched “Mark Driscoll” and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 17, after thinking about Jesus’ warning in the first two verses: And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. It’s also worth noting the slightly different wording in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 18, verse 6, which adds a shade of meaning, essentially implying that “little ones” are any believers in Jesus.

The following excerpt of the sermon, which on its own merits is quite good, is striking in light of the recent formal complaint filed by 21 former pastors in Driscoll’s organization.

Number Two, how are you leading others into temptation? This may even be, in light of the context, of controversy and conflict, you compelling them toward raging, anger, escalation. You could do this through gossip, through antagonizing, through goading them on, leading them toward temptation. Now, they are responsible for their sin, but you are responsible for your participation in the temptation…. Sin should not come through you. Don’t be an agent of the devil, leading others toward temptation to sin.

Compare some of what Driscoll said there with the list of offenses in the formal charges. I mean, if Driscoll-past isn’t rebuking Driscoll-future, then maybe I can’t understand plain old American English.

For broader context, watch a 7-minute video excerpt of the sermon here:

Dealing With Your Sin Luke 17:1-10 from jway242003 on GodTube.

Also see:
“When your pastor is worse than ‘worldly’ — what’s Mars Hill Church to do?”
“Is the Mars Hill Church board lying for Pastor Mark Driscoll? Or just using weasel words”
“Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches you how to slander!”

For Resurgence and Mars Hill Church, ‘unity’ is the new ‘touch not my anointed’


Here’s a screen grab of a Resurgence email I received Tuesday:

An email from Mars Hill Church and Resurgence (screengrab)

From an August 19, 2014 email sent from Resurgence, a ministry of Mars Hill Church.

Good, healthy unity and community are great practical analogies for Trinitarian theology. Love one another, someone famous said.

But like anything else that proceeds from the mouth of Pastor Mark Driscoll these days, one must consider the context of what is being said, and, unfortunately, suspect something other than God is motivating the message.

That’s because Driscoll has been caught in numerous instances of plagiarism, and 40-plus elders and many congregants have left the Mars Hill churches during the past three years, and former Driscoll associates like Ron Wheeler and Mike Anderson have revealed shocking information about working with the pastor.

So I find Driscoll’s appeal for “unity” to be little more than the manipulation of a biblical text for the purposes of keeping more people from leaving his church.

In several books detailing abuses of power and cult-style leadership within churches, authors have pointed out a biblical passage that has been manipulated by pastors and ministers:

“Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.”

The passage, found in the Old Testament books of First Chronicles and the Psalms, has been used by pastors and self-anointed prophets to maintain an unassailable control over their congregations and rebuff any critique.

Among the dozens of books analyzing that type of manipulation, I would most strongly suggest Twisted Scriptures by Mary Chrnalogar, By Hook or By Crook: How Cults Lure Christians by Harold Bussell, and Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth.

Now the questions for long-suffering members of Mars Hill churches are clear: Unity at what price? Dwelling together at what price?

 

The reality of pastoral gossip, or, Pastor Mark Driscoll trains you in godly leadership


One of the great things about Christian leaders is their example.

You can learn from their examples. You can follow them as they follow Christ.

As Ron Wheeler notes in this open letter to Mark Driscoll, one trait of a godly leader is the ability to hold private disdain for those with whom you work in ministry.

Wheeler writes,

But then I listened as you slandered and maligned the men and women we worked with behind their backs -who though we didn’t agree with some of them theologically- were wonderful people, and never deserved to be spoken of, or treated the way you did. People who I know would have considered you a friend and have no idea how you really felt about them. I have personally tried to go back and apologize to people who were “kicked to the curb”, along the way, and yes, I do feel I was complicit to your actions; guilty by way of association and being silent.

For that, I could not be more sorry. [emphasis added]

Clearly, Ron Wheeler is bitter because he is not able to experience the freedom and grace to slander and malign others.

(I admit I have failed to understand freedom and grace so my faith is shaky. I realized if you tell me about someone else, you’ll probably tell someone else about me. Christianity is, more often than not, the last place for sharing personal matters. Just go to secular psychologists for confession — they have solid ethics.)

Another thing Wheeler failed to learn from Pastor Driscoll’s godliness is the wisdom of Machiavellian political maneuvering.

Again, Wheeler writes,

Then you involved yourself in our Eldership in a most irresponsible and reckless manner. In hindsight, it never should have gotten to that point, and I accept full responsibility for that, but what I needed was trustworthy, Biblical accountability, and instead I got slander, threats, and verbal abuse. We had good elders who were caught between a pastor dealing with personal and familial sin, and an outside accountability that was reckless, irresponsible and ultimately had a destructive influence on a once unified eldership. I know it all now. I’ve read the communication you had with the other elders behind my back. Ugly, slanderous, defaming lies, Mark. I thought you were my brother and you treated me like scum.

On March 17, 2005, I sent a letter of grievance to the Board of Acts29, asking them to address what I had come to realize over time, were serious character flaws of yours. I made the case that Biblically you were unfit and disqualified as an Elder. A case based off long established patterns of pride, lack of self-control, sexually vulgar and slanderous speech, exaggeration that bordered on deception, gossip about others and confidentiality issues. An excerpt from that letter stated: “The fact that Mark is an incredibly talented leader and charismatic personality, cannot in any way substitute for the simple Biblical requirements of being Christ-like, much less the qualifications of being an Elder. I can make a Biblical case from Titus regarding his being overbearing, quick-tempered, self-controlled, upright, and holy, as well as 1 Timothy regarding being above reproach, self-controlled, respectable, not quarrelsome, and a good reputation with outsiders”.

Not surprisingly, we got a response letter from the Board of Acts29 informing us that they would accept our resignation from Acts29, as we had made our continued participation in the network contingent upon their dealing with your issues. Apparently, they lacked the fortitude and resolve to deal with your out-of-control behavior, and so became complicit themselves. How the board of Acts29 abdicated their responsibility in this, is beyond my comprehension. In addition, I was heartbroken as there were so many guys in the network that I loved. Guys that I came to miss dearly over the next few painful, depressing years. You asked me not to contact any of the guys and be “divisive”. I never did, you know. When I finally did just recently, I discovered that you had completely misrepresented what happened in my situation. Thus, what I had seen you do to others, finally came full circle around to me. It sucked. I didn’t like it at all. [emphasis added]

Before I get to the Mark Driscoll Leadership Tips we can draw from this passage, I just want to thank the Lord for the way the Holy Spirit has led Pastor Driscoll and the members of Acts29 in Christ-like behavior, wisdom, and discernment. I’m grateful that the evangelical flock can look up to these men of character, integrity, and timely insight. I’m glad all those prayers for Driscoll and Acts29 were fruitful. We’re blessed because all that time in The Word bore fruit.

Now, the tips we can learn from Driscoll’s godly leadership.

One, if you feel like you’re called by God, tell any lie you feel necessary to protect the manifestation of that calling. Can I get an Amen? The manifestation of your calling is yours at any cost — because Jesus paid ALL costs. That is grace and freedom, bro — the will to power must also be the will to maintain power.

Two, when in a pinch, work your network. That’s why you go to conferences with members of the Evangelical All-Stars on the speaker lists. You’ve gotta have friends and connections. Look, say what you want about the Roman Catholics, but they’ve got this down-pat. How else do pedophile priests face accusations only to get new jobs in other parishes? They’ve got a killer network, man.

But as a Protestant, you accept no earthly authority — remember that. Say to yourself, “I accept no earthly authority.” It’s far more meaningful than that silly “Jesus prayer” repeated endlessly by Eastern Orthodox monks. You accept no earthly authority. When you face accusations, you just cash in your networking chips.

This method worked wonders for C.J. Mahaney, who got his famous pals to ignore concrete evidence and declare him righteous. They might as well have said, “He’s so well-networked with us, we can’t imagine him doing anything wrong.”

Books that can help you become a godly leader like Mark Driscoll

the-prince
Because “it is better to be feared than loved.”
Pastor Mark Driscoll certainly has been feared.
 
The-Art-of-War
“Appear weak when you are strong, strong when you are weak.”
That could be Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Ministry Motto. It’s also could be the recipe for both false humility and bullying.

UPDATE: PLEASE ALSO SEE “POSTSCRIPT TO ‘THE REALITY OF PASTORAL GOSSIP’ — A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Crosspost: Voddie Baucham, Shy Kids, and Spanking 5 Times Before Breakfast


Colin Foote Burch:

First, my wife educates our children at home.

Second, the faddish curricula denounced by the author in her post below are indeed poisonous.

Third, something is extremely wrong with the Bible-believing Protestant outlook in the United States when Voddie Bauchman becomes an expert to anyone about anything (then again, he didn’t invent the idea of spanking little kids constantly for each minor infraction).

While Ed Stetzer and others try to revitalize churches in the U.S. through studious engagement with missiology and evangelism, they remain silent about the plethora, the hoards, the multitudes galvanized by dangerous kooks. It takes a certain amount of brainwashing, “groupthink,” or “social proof” for the galvanized multitudes to exist, but meanwhile, outsiders look at the child-rearing beliefs propagated by the dangerous kooks and intuitively know those beliefs are horribly misguided.

Let me be crystal clear: I’m not equating Stetzer and Bauchman.

But I’m not sure how Stetzer and his well-intentioned followers will distance themselves from people like Bauchman. Apparently, on the surface level, in the sense of daily language, the former believes nearly the same theology and doctrine as the latter.

I doubt there will be much success for Stetzer and his cohorts when “Christian” means everything from child abuse to self-help tips, and when the Bible can say anything, when any slender biblical phrase becomes an adequate foundation for a crazy interpretation — which sounds like a caricature of Freudian literary interpretation! Bauchman, Freudian literary critic — who knew? (Be sure to read the accompanying post below.)

The message of Christianity cannot be “spank your kids a lot, for every infraction.”

 

Also, consider: Maybe Stetzer would have more help today if Christian adults hadn’t years ago wrecked their children by following egotistical, over-confident men with Bibles and a smug sophomore’s ability to assemble proof from a text.

CAN YOU BUILD A MOVEMENT THAT CONSTANTLY POISONS ITSELF?

No — but don’t stop believin’.

 

Originally posted on Homeschoolers Anonymous:

Crosspost: Voddie Baucham, Shy Kids, and Spanking 5 Times Before Breakfast

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Julie Anne Smith’s blog Spiritual Sounding Board. It was originally published on June 17, 2013.

One of the traps that we got ourselves caught in was looking to religious leaders for guidance on how to raise our children. It’s ok to seek guidance, but we didn’t always check what we learned with scripture. We read a lot of books and went to parenting seminars/classes over the years:  Train Up A ChildShepherding a Child’s HeartTitus2.com, Ezzo’s Growing Kids God’s Way, etc.

We weren’t the only ones. Some of these books/classes were trendy and many churches across the states would jump on the bandwagon. During the mid 1990s, I spent time visiting homeschool forums online and I’d hear of new parenting books/programs popping up…

View original 1,164 more words