aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Just the facts, ma'am

I keep running into evangelical devotional memes or sermons that are exegetically preposterous. They're clever, yes. They use all the available data to make a point. But they use fantasy linguistics -- shoot, sometimes they can't even construe English correctly, let alone Greek or Hebrew -- and they assert things that are historically bogus. They are so busy finding out the hidden meaning of a story that they misunderstand the actual details of the story. And it bothers me that people who claim as the distinguishing feature of their religion a belief in an infallible Bible sometimes don't bother to actually learn the Bible very much.

Meanwhile, the progressives have their own distinctive uses for the Bible. They cherry-pick certain things as tending to confirm -- in their view -- their theological or moral or political doctrines. They ignore everything that challenges their point of view (which is most of the Bible). The Bible is, for them, just a mine run of stuff they can pick through to extract the things they find valuable.

I always assumed that the gospel I was preaching was actually -- you know -- true. This meant that facts were important. Edifying meanings can sometimes be extracted from a text, but sometimes details are just details. Understanding the details can put you in the story and see it as it was seen by the original writer(s). And that's important. We're not teaching myth, but history (or sometimes, poetry or some other literary genre). Nor are we just using the text as a pre-text for a modern understanding that we are foisting upon the Bible.

Anyway, between the evangelicals who exalt the Bible (but betray their ignorance of it) and the progressives who want to subordinate the Bible to their modernist ideology, I feel I've been an odd duck my whole career. Again and again, I have reminded myself of C.S. Lewis's advice to ministers:
The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it good for society or something of that sort. -- "Christian Apologetics" in God in the Dock
I'm sure if I put my head to it, I could create a very satisfying religion for myself and anyone else who enjoyed what I enjoyed or who saw the world as I see it; however, it would be mere fantasy, and its god no bigger than myself. And it would thus be of no use when the time came to lay down one's life and face whatever awaits us beyond this life. There is only one who has crossed that frontier and returned to tell us what we should do to prepare for it, and it is in him that we must put our trust.

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