It seems that often, after I write a post, I read something that speaks directly to the issue and wonder, “Why didn’t I wait until I had read this?” Of course, if I knew the applicable writing or reading segment were out there, I would have studied it first. But since, I don’t, I don’t. (?)
Yesterday’s post centered on moving from “milk” to the meat of the Word and the value it has for important dialogue and interaction in the faith community. Often times it seems, rightly or wrongly, that pastors and churches are fearful of confronting difficult issues when it comes to the biblical text or social issues that are impacted by the biblical text. I suppose, from a pastors standpoint, it could be for fear of job security. From the churches standpoint it may be because they don’t know how to engage in that type of dialogue.
For a rather simple example, let me share observations regarding the church my wife and I attend. It happens to be a Southern Baptist Church. It has both a “Covenant of Faith” and a doctrinal statement called “The Baptist Faith and Message.” Now I don’t know this for certain, but I would be willing to wager, a fairly large percentage of the members, both new and “old”, may not be in total agreement with those two pieces. That does not mean they don’t feel comfortable with the majority of the beliefs, it simply means they may feel that some of them may not be appropriate any longer. They do not see that as a reason for leaving or not joining the church, they simply don’t agree with certain statements and will live with the incongruencies. I suspect that is a common practice in many churches not just Southern Baptist.
Southern Baptists are pretty good at falling on the idiom, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” A position that certainly has merit for some, but not for all. That idiom allows many to circumvent the difficult issues found in scripture and simply rely on a “I don’t want to talk about it” or “I have my mind made up and no matter what you say, it won’t change what I believe.” A good many people like that kind of position. It keeps them safe to some degree. It also allows them to remain shielded from any real dialogue on what Scot McKnigt calls “the blue parakeet” verses in the Bible. The one Scot addresses specifically in his book is that of women in ministry, particularly those gifted as teachers and preachers.
Having said all this, let me direct you to the Jesus Creed blog for a discussion of the difficult issues found in the Old Testament. The post starts with a personal position and then you can follow the “comments” to see how the dialogue unfolds and the many postions presented. It’s a healthy “dialogue.”
Personally, I have always been a fan of the OT. Its beauty, its poetry, its characters. Indeed there are some issues in there that call for genuine discussion such as creation, God’s charge to kill all men, women and children and His seemingly on again off again relationship with His covenant people. Areas of tension that are not often addressed with rational thought either from the pulpit nor in Bible studies. Nevertheless, these tensions exist.
Anyway, here is the linkI have referenced. Enjoy!