The thing about truth

Todd

As I’ve gotten older and studied the Bible more, I’ve grown skeptical about how factual it really is. Don’t get me wrong, I affirm that the Bible is God-breathed. But I believe that it’s ok if God-breathed and factual are two different things.

The most obvious example of this for me is found in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible. Now, I don’t know if the world was actually created in six, 24-hour days or not. I’m not saying it’s not possible or that God didn’t, I’m just saying I’m not sure. And if this story isn’t absolutely factual, I’m ok with it. I don’t think the point of the story is to be found in the way God created, but simply that He created and found it to be good.

Then we have a story like Nehemiah’s, the man who rebuilt the walls surrounding Jerusalem. Based on my limited understanding, I think this is probably a fairly factual account of what Nehemiah did. From this story I get both a historical picture of how the walls were rebuilt and a valuable lesson in leadership.

It could be argued that I’m picking and choosing what to take literally and what I’m viewing as allegory. In my defense, I’m trying (though perhaps not wholly succeeding) to not be arbitrary with my choices. I look to scholars much smarter than I to frame these decisions. However, I’m not sure picking and choosing is worse than accepting all of scripture or none of it as factual – both are a choice that require a leap of faith and some rational reasoning.

I don’t think scripture has to be factual to be true. Just as an example, The Chronicles of Narnia books aren’t factual. But that doesn’t mean the lessons gleaned from them aren’t based in truth. I learn about sacrifice, awe, humility and grace – lessons worth learning. And that’s the point of the books.

Is it possible that some of the books in the Bible could be read with the same perspective?

I’ll bet this post will require a clarification post too.
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22 Comments

  1. Scott Waltman
    April 8, 2009 at 3:25 pm — Reply

    Define your understanding of “factual.” Sorry for the aborted effort before. Titus 1:2 says that God does not lie. I understand that to mean He doesn’t deceive or fool us with “things that seem to be but aren’t” etc. So I take that to mean that what is said in Gen. 1 is “factual” but may not be understood perfectly by us fallible humans. Once you convince yourself that some things are factual, but some things aren’t, you can then pick scriptures you want to believe and discard all others. We’ve done that for centuries. That’s why we have such a mixed up religious world.

  2. April 8, 2009 at 4:15 pm — Reply

    I mean based on or restricted to reality. As in “actually happened as recorded. ”

    God doesn’t lie, but the creation account was recorded by humans, for humans. If we can’t even understand, we certainly can’t record it factually either.

    I still believe the Bible to be True, just not 100% factual. But, passages shouldn’t be discarded because they aren’t historically or scientifically accurate. The Bible was never intended to be a history book or scientific text. What becomes difficult is trying to discern (not simply pick and choose based on a whim or fancy) which passages were written to precisely record a situation and which were written to communicate a lesson or teaching.

    Thanks for the comment. I went ahead and deleted the first attempt. 🙂

  3. Brad
    April 8, 2009 at 6:13 pm — Reply

    You also have to consider whether certain passages like Gen 1 were ever intended to be interpreted as literal fact. Just because they read in English in a style like one would write a historical account of things doesn’t mean we are supposed to understand it that way. Literary criticism on that passage has brought out some very interesting ideas.

    That said I believe the literal, factual resurrection of Jesus from the dead is absolutely necessary for the Christian faith to be valid. Without it there is nothing to Christianity, it’d be a waste of time. With it you have established a belief in the miraculous and are free to examine scripture closely for what it is trying to convey through many kinds of writing.

  4. Scott Waltman
    April 9, 2009 at 11:18 am — Reply

    Your second paragraph calls inspiration into question. Lots of arguments about how God inspired the writing of His Word. I certainly believe He could inspire a human to write factually about something he (human writer) did not understand.

  5. April 9, 2009 at 11:52 am — Reply

    But why would God inspire a writing that the writer doesn’t understand and the coming readers wouldn’t either? What would be the purpose of that?

    He could, yes. I just don’t know why he would.

  6. Scott Waltman
    April 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm — Reply

    If we have to know why about everything God does or says we necessarily diminish the importance of faith (without faith it is impossible to please Him). “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Maybe I’m assuming the position of Zophar when he asked Job, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” I guess my take is that you can pose these kinds of questions (is Genesis 1 factual?) that will ultimately consume you and others around you, take you away from the simplicities of God’s call to us and ultimately whittle away at what faith you have. I’m sure on some level it would be nice to “understand” all that I don’t, but I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, God expects obedience not questioning. I guess for others the right thing might be to continually question, to give the appearance of being spiritual, while at the same time trying to undercut what God might “in reality (factually)” be wanting me to do.

  7. April 9, 2009 at 1:58 pm — Reply

    I agree with you Todd. The trap that some many Christians and non-Christians alike fall into here is setting up a false dichotomy between all or nothing. “If anything isn’t “factual,” then it’s all hooey.” People insist on trying to make things as enormous as theology, religion, or spirituality very clear cut, absolute, and simple when they just aren’t. They aren’t three dimensional, concrete objects. They are very, very multidimensional, abstract concepts and are therefore, necessarily abstract and complex.

    Does that mean that they have no bearing on the concrete world? Absolutely not! It simply means that our attempts to fully flesh out those concepts and understandings will always be imperfect representations. That is precisely the reason why God had to come down here to flesh it out Himself. He’s the only one who could actually pull it off!

    So the point isn’t that we stop trying to understand scripture and put it into practice. The point is that we do so with a humble understanding that whatever we are able to put together will be an absolutely imperfect representation of the perfect, and this includes the Scriptures. Jesus was and is the only perfect incarnation of God’s word.

    I can do a spot on impersonation of Chris Farley, but I am not Chris Farley.

  8. April 9, 2009 at 5:12 pm — Reply

    I believe the Bible is inspired, as in God-breathed. I am quoting Paul Little here: “It is important to understand this term [inspiration] because its biblical meaning is different from that which we often give it in everyday language. The Bible is not inspired as the writings of a great novelist are inspired, or as Bach’s music was inspired. Inspiration, in the biblical sense, means that God so superintended the writers of Scripture that they wrote what He wanted them to write and were kept from error in so doing. The word “inspired” (2 Timothy 3:16) actually means “outbreathed” (by God). Inspiration applies to the end result–the Scripture itself–as well as to the men whom God used to write the Scripture.”

    So I believe the earth was created in six days. I believe the story of creation is to not only show us that God created the world and that He saw it as good, but to show us that He could do it in six days. He could have done it all in a split second, but doing it in the order described, in the time described, meant something to Him, and He had it written as such. I haven’t read the literary criticism of which Brad speaks, so I am not sure of the points he hints at, but I do believe that God gave us His word so that we can read it and it alone. He also gave us the church–a community of His believers–to encourage each other, sharpen each other, but I believe that we should sharpen each other as we read the Bible and digest its truth. The Bible is sufficient.

    I also agree with Scott, that we should not expect to understand God’s power with our human brains. In Isaiah He told of the coming Messiah. Did those to whom Isaiah preached understand? No. But God told of coming events for a purpose. And as we look back on Isaiah and Jesus’ life we come to understand it. Similarly, the book of Revelation may not make sense to us now, it (in my opinion) is not an issue of salvation, but it was important enough to God to put it in the Bible, so it has some relevance to us now, whether or not I understand it yet. Through study and prayer the Holy Spirit will reveal to us what is important for us to know.

  9. April 12, 2009 at 8:58 am — Reply

    Fascinating discussion. i remember the first time a pastor (priest, actually) suggested a Biblical story (Jonah and the “whale”) was allegorical: I’d attended the campus Episcopalian chapel with my friend Blue when I was 17. Even though I was an interested student of church history and theology (and therefore knew that most mainline churches played fast and loose with the Bible-as-historical-document) I was absolutely shocked.

    Now I attend an Episcopalian church and roughly agree with most of their teachings, including that the Bible is true and God-breathed but often not factual. Still, I find as I get older, my response is often “who cares?” when presented with divisive theological issues. Was the universe created in seven days or not? Who cares? Did Daniel survive a literal lion’s den? Who cares? Egyptian plagues, Ruth & Naomi, even some of the stories in our New Testament … these are not the foundation of my faith, and I feel as though I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy arguing about facts (or listening to other people argue). It’s like arguing about the set design in a brief scene in one of the Star Wars movies–definitely fun and of interest to Star Wars nerds, but it sort of misses the point of the narrative. The Bible is fascinating and nerding out on the different stories and minor points of theology is interesting and worthwhile to us Bible nerds, but I have to remind myself the Bible is a message, not a collection of stories that I am required to believe are factual or historically accurate. I’m much better served meditating on the concept of broken pottery than discussing what exactly happened on the Pentecost … even if the latter subject is truly interesting and worthwhile.

  10. April 12, 2009 at 10:23 am — Reply

    P.S. (I was thinking abut this discussion while out picking up breakfast): I think this is an extraordinarily useful discussion (I don’t want my “who cares” anthem to sound as though I feel otherwise). I know that I often feel judged by Biblical literalists for my more liberal beliefs (Mother, I’m looking at YOU), and I wonder if the literalists ever feel dismissed by the mainliners. It’s frustrating because there is so goll-danged much common ground between us, including a belief in striving for Christlike behavior. Sometimes we have a different idea of what exactly that is, sure, but surely we can all agree that bringing the love of God to the world is pretty basic.

  11. April 12, 2009 at 11:22 am — Reply

    “Once you convince yourself that some things are factual, but some things aren’t, you can then pick scriptures you want to believe and discard all others.”

    I do not agree with this statement in context to what you’ve written, Todd. In fact, I think you kind of missed exactly what Todd says here, Scott. There is not one part of the Bible that could/should be discarded. I think that’s exactly the point. The recorded book that we have is so important that our Sovereign Lord chose specific people to have it written down at a specific time from a specific perspective. That does not mean it should all be taken as FACT. If it were all scientifically/archaeologically provable, it would require no faith from me or any other Christ followers. I believe that the Bible is TRUTH that God wants us to know and understand. Far be it from me to “pick and choose” what to believe or not believe. I believe the entire Bible as truth-it is the truth that God loves me and wants a relationship with me. I don’t believe that this requires me to believe all that is in the Bible is to be taken as fact or a literal event.

  12. josh
    April 14, 2009 at 11:31 pm — Reply

    Sorry. Maybe this post has already been put to bed, but I just read through it today and wanted to chime in.

    “I’m sure on some level it would be nice to ‘understand’ all that I don’t, but I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, God expects obedience not questioning.”

    So many things to say about this line, but I’ll settle for this: wouldn’t first-century Jerusalem have been a much less annoying place to live if the Pharisees had questioned instead of obeyed?
    And I really don’t understand why “continual questioning” is denounced later in this comment as “the appearance of being spiritual.” Pharisaical obedience strikes me as much more of a spiritual show than earnest questioning.

    “Once you convince yourself that some things are factual, but some things aren’t, you can then pick scriptures you want to believe and discard all others. We’ve done that for centuries. That’s why we have such a mixed up religious world.”

    No small amount of irony here, but I will let it pass without comment. Apologies to Scott for picking on his comments, but is there really much difference between saying “what is said in Gen. 1 is ‘factual’ but may not be understood perfectly by us fallible humans,” and what Todd seems to be saying in this post (i.e. What are we supposed to do with the Bible, God’s Truth, considering it is communicated to us imperfectly [fallibly], with words and via translations? Must we take it all literally, or is there room for accepting the truth and rejecting the necessity of literal interpretation?)

    I’ll close with one of Todd’s comments:
    “What becomes difficult is trying to discern (not simply pick and choose based on a whim or fancy) which passages were written to precisely record a situation and which were written to communicate a lesson or teaching.”

    Yes. This becomes very difficult. A decent understanding of Greek is probably helpful, as is a historical understanding of the relationship between the author and his intended audience. Even so, the experts are always going to disagree about which passages are which. But, of course, there is a way to avoid these difficulties altogether. You can refuse to pose these kinds of questions. You can obey without questioning.

  13. cliff
    April 15, 2009 at 2:35 am — Reply

    There seems to be a mix-up with words in the discussion.

    We are interchanging words that cannot necessarily be interchanged: fact, truth, literal, inspired, etc.

    These words all mean significantly different things. They are not synonyms.

    I think, Todd, you may be using some of your words improperly.

    When you mention the creation account in Genesis 1, you say you don’t know if the story is “absolutely factual”.

    1. Something is either a fact or isn’t. There cannot be a degree of factual. Something is either factual the way it is told or it is erroneous and exists as factual in some other way; something is either completely factual or it is erroneous. Even if an event or account is erroneous in only 1 part of 100, it is still erroneous.

    One could (and probably wants to) make the point that parts of a story can be facts without the whole story being taken as fact. Take this blog for example. Someone could tell the story of Todd’s Blog titled, “The thing about truth” and go on to say there were 11 comments before this one, each comment being posted by a human being at a point in history. The story goes on to say that the author saw what he had wrote and it was very good. The narrator could then say the body of the blog post was written in 6 seconds.

    What do we do with this account? Is it fact or fiction?

    Fiction.

    This story is not factual because it errs in 1 part of 10, or 35, or 1,000,000. The story up to the final sentence may have indeed been 100% fact, but because of the false information in the final sentence, the whole account ceases to be fact.

    Todd, you may say, “But I don’t believe the whole story is false; I believe there were people there and animals and plants and stars and the sun and moon and that God was behind all of it”

    but…

    But that’s not what the story says. The story does not end with events taking place and people being there and God being responsible for it. No, the story says all of the above took place a certain way and in a certain framework of time. That’s the story. The story is a cohesive whole, and to conclude a part of it is “not absolutely factual” – or, in other words, False – is to conclude the story itself is false.

    This is, invariably, the predicament you are in when the words you choose to use are Fact, Literal, Truth, etc.

    A second problem is with what people do with certain words after they are said or written.

    When you use the words Fact, Literal, Truth, etc., people run all kinds of directions with those.

    The conversation quickly becomes one about Historical and Scientific Fact, Mathematically True, or Biologically and Physically Literal.

    I think a lot of trouble in this post comes from the broad stoke painted about the Bible maybe not being absolutely factual. And then you made a comparison between Scripture and The Chronicles of Narnia which would chap a lot of asses among people who think you are saying Scripture and Mythical Fantasy stories are essentially the same thing.

    However, many people would certainly agree with that comparison and would actually hold The Chronicles of Narnia in higher regard than the Bible.

    Either way, I think it was misguided to discuss the Scriptures in this way.

    First, the words are so misleading. What do you mean by Fact? Truth? Literal? Inspired? Again, people take these words and run in a thousand different directions. It’s inappropriate to paint such broad, linguistic strokes.

    Second, the “whole” Bible cannot be discussed as a “whole”. This is a major problem we face nowadays by having the “whole” bible as a single “book”. The Bible is not one “whole”, it is actually a compilation of 66 parts… the important thing to understand with this is that there are multiple genres within the Bible.

    The Bible is not a compilation of History books only.

    Take the book of Luke, for example. Luke begins his work by clearly stating he is writing a piece of History that can be trusted and relied upon.

    The Song of Songs? Not a History book. It’s a book of poetry. Do we take Song of Songs literally like we do Luke’s Gospel? No, not in the same way. Could you imagine Solomon getting so pumped about a woman with breasts like fawns and a neck like a tower?

    But does that mean Song of Songs is not Factual? Reliable? Credible? Literal? In all the ways Solomon was trying to be, he can be taken as fully all of these.

    Songs of Songs is not less Factual because it is less Historical or Scientific. It is just as factual and should be treated and trusted as such.

    The same goes for Genesis 1, Revelation 22 and everything in-between. Each of us has to understand the Bible for what it is. It’s a mix-tape. It’s not all history, it’s not all poetry, and it’s not all prophecy. But it is completely accurate and reliable as it stands and for what each book, letter, and author was trying to communicate.

    We all – me, most of the time – need to be more careful with how we use our words, especially such strong words as Fact and Truth, among others. I think we could also all benefit from doing more research on the Scriptures we all love so much. Our 21st Century, Middle-Class, English take these books needs to be strongly scrutinized and communicated gently and with humility.

    The thing about truth is… well, His name is Jesus and none of us are him.

    -cb

    P.S. A good place to begin studying is Genesis 1 and 2. A deeper look reveals something beautiful about Moses. He was no historian, but he was a song writer.

  14. cliff
    April 15, 2009 at 2:59 am — Reply

    Emily

    I think I see what you are getting at: Why all the arguing amongst the Christian family? Let’s just be like Jesus.

    However, I can’t help but wonder what your faith is based upon if you meet the Scriptures with a, “Who Cares?!”

    I know a few people who look at the life of Jesus and say,
    “Did he really heal the sick and make the blind to see? Who cares?!
    “Did he really feed the multitudes? Who cares?!
    “Did he really die on the cross? Who cares?!
    “Did he really rise from the dead? Who cares?!”

    People care, and I care, because if these things didn’t happen, then it is a sham. Paul says it like, “If Christ is not raised from the dead we are to be pitied among all people”.

    You may say you believe in the resurrection, but don’t care that much about anything else; maybe the resurrection is where you draw the line. But in the midst of all your carelessness, it’s arbitrary. Why trust this and nothing else?

    I have some Buddhist friends who actually speak very similarly to you in your comments. They very much want to “walk as Christ walked”. I don’t know you. You very well may be Buddhist or Unitarian at which I urge you to look deeper into the life of the Jesus you wish to follow and see how little he cared for living “Christ-like” and how strongly he wanted to rescue humanity from ourselves and bring glory to the one and only God – and this is his desire for us.

    If you consider yourself a Christian, I urge you not to so flippantly discard the great stories of our God intervening in human history. This is what makes our God unique among other gods. The stories you shrug off with, “Who cares?!” are the stories that give life and vibrancy and hope to the people of God. They are the stories of Jesus’ ancestors, and the stories he embraced as he grew up a Rabbi.

    Those stories are the prequel to God’s ultimate intervention in human history through Jesus. The stories show us our God who did not come to us only once through Jesus, but had been coming among us forever before Jesus and will continue to do so forever after.

    Without these stories I would be with you:

    Who Cares?!

    However, I would not be able to, like you, embrace a life without stories,

    No, for me, without stories, I would have no life to embrace.

    -cb

  15. April 15, 2009 at 7:09 am — Reply

    Hi Cliff–

    I will definitely come back to this later, but I wanted to quickly clarify (I hope) my “who cares?” refrain.

    I believe what it says in 2 Timothy 3:16: that “All scripture is God-breathed, and useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness, so that the man [and woman!] of God may be equipped for every good work.” I do honor and respect the Bible as the word of God.

    My “who cares?” attitude is reserved specifically for questions of factual accuracy. It’s a way I check myself when I feel as though I’m wasting too much brain space on a question that I find incidental. Is it worth arguing about whether or not Jonah was actually swallowed by a fish when I could be meditating on the message behind the story? I may be coming at this from entirely the wrong way, I realize, but as I get older I find I have a deeper understanding of some of the stories and parables that I’ve been hearing my entire life. There are layers and layers of meaning in so many of the stories and metaphoric language of the Bible–on this I’m sure we agree. When I look at it that way, the factual accuracy of some of the stories seems like the least important thing.

    Side note: I often think of Philippians 2:5 and subsequent verses, which a wise teacher required that I memorize 15-odd years ago: that my attitude should be like Christ, “who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” I was taught that discounting the historical accuracy of the Bible was tantamount to elevating oneself, trying to be God. But I know I’m not God and I don’t want to act as a substitute. I try to come to the Bible, and to discussions like this one, with humility. I feel as though my “who cares?” attitude (as clarified above) actually honors God, because it’s about striving to understand what he’s trying to tell me.

  16. cliff
    April 15, 2009 at 7:31 am — Reply

    Emily

    Thank you for your reply.

    It’s good to read some clarification, though I don’t feel very clarified.

    I guess I can only refer you back to my initial response to you.

    The factual accuracy IS important.

    I’m confused. At what point in time did God’s unique interventions in human history become incidental?

    I guess I’m not exactly sure what you are meditating on and gleaning from books that are so raw, gross and dirty, and real without gleaning these very things? The beauty of our God is in these incidental details.

    Again, my Buddhist and Unitarian friends would be right there with ya…trying to glean some life lesson and 5 steps to more holistic, peaceful, Zen living.

    Who needs those details about God commanding people to walk around for 3 years butt-naked to get a message across? Who needs the details of God speaking through a donkey to get someone’s attention? Who wants to bother with incidental things like a man throwing himself overboard a ship and being eaten alive by sea life, only to be regurgitated before going carrying out God’s mission?

    I can’t even fathom how God moving 2 million people out of slavery, overthrowing oppressive governments, and building a nation could be of least importance.

    No offense Emily, but I guess I just don’t know what the hell you’re gleaning from the Scriptures apart from the raw facts of how God strangely and uniquely engages our world and interacts with people.
    And, again, your position begs the question: Where do incidentals stop and significant facts begin? What facts about Jesus are important? Are any? How do you decide?

    The beauty and significance of our faith is in these details. Trust me, there is nothing more beautiful or amazing or insightful you could possibly be enlightened to than what is already there, under your nose.

    cb

  17. April 15, 2009 at 7:58 am — Reply

    Cliff, do you mind if I ask you whether or not you identify with a Christian denomination (or attend its services) and if so, which?

    I’m Anglican, by the way (as mentioned above), not Buddhist or Unitarian. Do you believe Unitarians are Christians? Because I feel as though–intentionally or not–you are basically telling me I’m not a Christian. It’s quite possible that I’m being overly sensitive, because your words remind me so much of many of my childhood teachers and pastors.

    But your tone does bother me. In your first comment you said you thought Todd’s original blog post was misguided and inappropriate. How could it be misguided to honestly relate what is happening in one’s own spiritual life? Todd isn’t issuing a decree, or telling us he’s figured it all out–and neither am I. I am well aware that I am wrong about oh so many things: I’m a broken vessel, a blind man, a seeker wandering around aimlessly in the desert. But I spent so many years checking my spiritual pulse against what I was “supposed” to be thinking and feeling, to the detriment of my own development. Now I’m just reading, seeking, messing up, working to understand, being prideful, thinking, failing … and trying to be honest about all of it. I appreciate people who are doing the same, whether or not we agree about specifics.

  18. josh
    April 15, 2009 at 2:36 pm — Reply

    Cliff, Josh here.

    “Something is either a fact or isn’t. There cannot be a degree of factual. Something is either factual the way it is told or it is erroneous and exists as factual in some other way; something is either completely factual or it is erroneous. Even if an event or account is erroneous in only 1 part of 100, it is still erroneous.”

    We will talk over beer about this. Soon, I hope. I will try to explain why you are wrong, and you will try to do the same thing to me.

  19. Cliff
    April 15, 2009 at 10:04 pm — Reply

    Emily

    Well I can’t tell you what you are or aren’t.

    I didn’t say Todd was misguided nor did I say he was being inappropriate. I was stating it is misguided to speak of the Bible purely in terms of Historical or Scientific fact. Todd stated in an earlier comment that he was not strictly speaking of the Bible this way. I wasn’t referring specifically to him, I was referring to people who talk of the Bible in the “either/or” category.

    “Either the Bible is completely historical or totally literal or it isn’t.”

    This mindset is misguided.

    I went on to explain how the bible is a mix-tape of genres and, when read as each is, and was, intended, each book and letter can be taken as completely factual, true, and inspired.

    It’s true your words confused me about what faith you consider yourself. The way you worded what you said sounded like many of my other-than-christian friends.

    Forgive me for my lack of consideration for your honesty.

    I definitely don’t offer much slack for “honesty”.

    Honesty is not a virtue as far as I can tell.

    So many people in our culture have placed honesty and authenticity at the helm even when people are authentically honest about some really bad, or blatantly wrong, things.

    We always say, “Well at least I’m being honest.”

    When did that start mattering?

    What happened to Truth overriding one’s “honest” feelings to the contrary?

    What happened to right and good being more significant than someone’s honestly wrong perceptions and authentically bad lives?

    Our culture doesn’t seem to mind if someone is wrong in every way as long as they are “true to themselves”.

    I disagree.

    Strongly.

    It’s true we are all wrong about many things, but that doesn’t, therefore, make it right to be wrong. Just because we are all wrong to a degree (large or small) doesn’t mean the things which we are wrong about are not important or are incidental.

    We are a disabled people. We are disabled by our own selfishness. The Scriptures were not written so everyone could have their own, little Bible, and do their own personal thing with God… you know, being true to themselves and all. Wrong.

    The Christian faith is a community and a family. We don’t seek truth on our own terms, time, or truth. We seek it together. And when one of us is wrong, we are not patted on the back for being authentic or honest, we are corrected and challenged to think again.

    The point here is that a lot of people get mixed up in these discussions and start questioning so many things because something they read doesn’t align with their personal experience. This is backwards.

    In the Christian faith, God does not conform to our experience, we conform our experience to God. When the Scriptures and our experience don’t align, we don’t question the Scriptures, we question our experience.

    Emily

    Being Anglican you have a really good community and support base in your life. If people in your church who have done the study and the prayer and the work, challenge your thinking or say you are way off base with something you believe, listen to them. You don’t have to change anything, but listen up. No one is dismissing you as a person, or a woman, or a child of God who is full of worth and value.

    Don’t take it so personally all the time.

    It’s not about you.

    My “tone” is not about you. I’m not attacking you or telling you what you are.

    I don’t even know you.

    I’m challenging your thinking for the sake of everyone, including myself. I appreciate you doing the same to me.

    -cb

  20. Cliff
    April 15, 2009 at 10:05 pm — Reply

    Josh

    I look forward to that man!

    The Anchor sounds pretty good right now.

    First round on me.

    -cb

  21. Emily
    April 16, 2009 at 10:06 am — Reply

    Cliff,

    Don’t worry, I haven’t taken anything personally. Either I am an extraordinarily poor communicator or you’ve managed to misconstrue nearly every single thing I’ve said. Given the exchange thus far, I doubt any further “clarification” on my part would be helpful.

    Best to you and yours. And thanks, Todd, for starting the discussion–I really do think it’s an important one.

  22. April 17, 2009 at 8:23 am — Reply

    Alright… I am really late to this party so I will only drop an incendiary thought bomb that is not even mine to begin with. It comes from Scot McKnight over at Jesuscreed.

    This is not a new challenge for the church but one we must still work through. This post has been a good start. Kudos to you… herr Todd.

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2009/04/beginnings-4-rjs.html#more

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The thing about truth