Monthly Archives: October 2004

A New Day Dawning

As I write this the sky is turning to a bright pink.  It promises to be as beautiful a day as yesterday was. 

Had a good sleep last night.  Leo and I watched Bridgett Jones’ Dairy and that is a pretty funny show – although not as hilarious as I was expecting after all the recommendations by friends.  The kids were out doing their own thing and Sara is off at High School provincial soccer so it was nice and quiet.  It was nice to not have to go out anywhere last night – Grace even went and picked up the DVD for us at the rental place. 

Sara called me at work yesterday – something they are not supposed to do unless it is an emergency.  Most emergencies seem to be on the order of what should I make for supper.  And this was not an emergency either.  She was just excited.  They had won their first game and against the team ranked second so she had to tell me.  Good old St Mary’s.  The underdogs who are, needless to say, extremely motivated to win this – for the first time in history!

It was a good day on another level as well.  CK asked if he could stay – keep on living at our place.  He even offered to pay us rent!  So if he plays by the rules and we can remain sure that he is doing that, he will be staying at home.  So trust will begin to build up again, I hope.  Little by little.  Battles fought and won with lots of prayer.  Thanks God.

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Biblical innerancy

 

BIBLICAL INERRANCY
This was written in response to a heated debate on seven magazine over Biblical inerrancy. I never published it because I didn’t have the time or energy for the arguments that would follow. It’s not academically watertight, and the kind of people who obsess over Biblical inerrancy like to pick holes in things.


God has always chosen to use human authors, and does not override their humanity or individuality, their cultural circumstances or points of view. In fact, the Bible shows how creatively God uses those particularities to make works both historically specific and everlastingly applicable – one thinks of Hosea’s failed marriage, or Jonah’s unwillingness to forgive Nineveh.

It is quite possible that occasional errors and inconsistencies bother God not at all. To my knowledge none of the disputed passages contain anything by which Christianity stands or falls. The resurrection is not in doubt, but the number of angels in the tomb is. Really, who cares? One could be forgiven for not counting correctly at the time.

What I find curious, and revealing, is the inerrantists’ belief that any error demolishes the whole work – that if one thing is wrong then everything might be wrong, nothing can be trusted, and our faith is shipwrecked. This isn’t an approach one ordinarily uses with regard to books, let alone spoken accounts. We do not abandon a book as worthless because of a few factual errors. We do not dismiss a story [or a sermon] as a pack of lies because the teller gets something wrong or the data out of order. Obviously there is a level of inaccuracy beyond which the tale, and the teller, are no longer trustworthy – but I’d contend that we’re a long way short of that in the Bible.

God probably expects us to take a broad view of the trustworthiness of his authors. After all he trusted them himself, and I suggest was not willing to crush their humanity in order to satisfy our demand for trivial facts. Our wish for inerrancy is a sign that we do not trust, that our faith is fragile and based on a book rather than a relationship with the One to whom that book points. It’s sad that many churches have doctrinal statements which begin with ‘we believe in the inerrancy of the Bible’, rather than ‘we believe in God’. God comes in second on the list. Such statements have more to do with the intra-church doctrinal battles of a century ago than the explanation of Christian belief to outsiders in today’s society.

To speak personally, I had a committed relationship with God before I knew much about the Bible. And that relationship is real enough for me not to be too shaken by revelations about this or that part of the Bible. If the Bible were proved to be entirely false I could only say that there’s something funny been going on around here. The Bible interprets the experience, but the experience happens beyond the book. The Bible has informed and shaped my relationship with God, and with the world. It’s proved to be endlessly relevant, challenging, and even entertaining. That it is inspired I doubt not at all. But what that has to do with inerrancy I don’t know. I’ve heard sermons that were inspired, but with errors. Inspiration means efficacy of communication, contact, God to me, a voice heard. Sometimes it comes through all the stronger for cracked containers, as St Paul might concur. So if the Bible itself is a cracked container for the voices of God, that would seem in tune with the divine economy.

So many of our most contentious disputes hinge on genre. For instance, creationism stands or falls by what kind of document early Genesis is – whether it’s factual description or something else. To assume – demand – that all narratives be factual is asking for trouble. I’m unhappy with a view of the Bible that will not allow to God the full range of methods available to human authors. I don’t see why it should be a problem, that parts of the Bible might be fiction. Fiction can tell a truth as well as fact – maybe better. No-one would take Jesus’ parables as anecdotes, as factual accounts of real situations. They are fictions. And yet no-one would deny their power, and no-one would call Jesus a liar or dismiss his teaching as impossible to believe for using fiction as a carrier. So why not other parts of the Bible?

Let’s retain a sense of proportion. Suggesting that parts of the Bible might be fictional is not saying that it all is. But we can’t treat the Bible as a single book, in a single literary genre, with a single standard of authenticity, and a single framework for interpretation. We are dealing with 66 documents – note that even in calling them ‘books’ we are bringing certain expectations about how they are to be read – documents written over a period of some 3000 years by many different authors with very different circumstances and intentions. The Bible is what you get when you say, J. Edgar Hoover style, “Bring me the file on God.” It is, frankly, miraculous that this disparate collection should hold together at all, let alone display such rich internal cross-linkages across gulfs of time and space.

The argument that a book inspired by God has to be word-perfect and consistent is itself working to an idea of ‘perfection’ that may not be God’s. In the end all we can say is that we meet God in these documents. They are the stories – the story – of God. That is why they were chosen to be the canon. And all the mistakes – well they’re very interesting, but they don’t stop the voice of God. Never have done.

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Just another day…

or maybe not. 

Today brought restoration of hope.  Hope that maybe things will not turn out to be as bleak as I thought with my young adult kid.  Less worrying on my part.  It brought me a renewed sense that, yeah, God hears my prayers and in some way beyond my understanding, takes my worries on his shoulders and eases them.  A lot more peace settling on this house.

And it is good, very good to have Leo home again.  A sane voice in the cacophony.  Another adult! 

I know friends are praying too. These battles are tiring.  It is good to have friends at our side.

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Just another stressful day

Today was very busy at work.  To top it off, I did not get enough sleep last night and I only had one assistant today but was booked as if I had two.  Production should look good – I came home exhausted and about an hour late. 

I am beginning to work well with my new assistant.  It is about three months now and we are getting used to reading each other’s minds.  She is picking up speed at anticipating the stuff I am going to use.  And I really appreciate her willingness to work hard.  I didn’t hear any complaints from her today even though we only got a few minutes to eat at noon and she was late going home to her family.

Other things are causing me some stress right now.  Kids!  It is time for one to take his things and move out on his own.  Maybe he will see that his choices are not good – later on.  I have to hang on to a little bit of hope for that.  And hope that he will not get hurt irreparably in the process of finding out.  Or hurt someone else.  Not sure what his dad will say when he finds out – neither of his dads know yet but I know Leo will understand and back me up.  I think his own dad will also understand but will be hurt badly.  Right now, I think this kid is the centre of his own little universe and considers other people’s needs of little value.

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No Quick Fix

Tonight we were discussing Chapter 3 of The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.  In this chapter the author talks about the “table fellowship” of Jesus.  Jesus shares his friendship with sinners and other rabble. 

Then we began talking about what we do.

There are some people we all know that are not very lovable.  They are not lovable because they are manipulative, have addictions problems, mental health issues on top of this and a host of other problems that make them less than desirable to hang around with.  Most of us have been targeted by the persons in question.  Most of the time they want to be bailed out of some situation they have gotten themselves into. 

We discussed together what should be the loving reaction when we are accosted  by such people.  We all have people like this in our personal lives and among our mutual acquaintances.  We do know that we are called to be loving.  How to be loving is the dilemma we face.  Sometimes the love needed is our ability to set limits, to be fairly tough in our expectations.  It is easier to just give them a handout so they will get out of our lives.  But it is not loving to let someone manipulate us into supporting their bad habits. 

Maybe when we let them manipulate us we are in effect saying “there is no hope for you so there is no use working on those bad habits”  So we take the easiest way or the quickest way out of the situation to get on with our lives. 

I suspect we fall far short of what is really needed on our parts to be loving.  That could take a big chunk of time and effort; no quick fix.  Some of these people need more time and commitment than we have. Would Jesus in our places have limited his involvement with them?

So are we just rationalizing the fact that we fail miserably at caring for people or what? 

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Sara's good deal

Sara and I had a deal.  She would do some baking for the bake sale today and she would help out at the table for a couple of hours and if she did that then I would take her to Saskatoon after for some shopping. 

I do not really like shopping.  It is tiring and it costs me a lot of money.  But… she did hold up her end of the bargain.  So we went.  Now normally, I would tell her to just find the stuff she needs here in Prince Albert, but she needed new indoor soccer cleats and she has wide feet.  To get a really good shoe we needed more choice than what was available here.  And she needed “sliding shorts” which she could not get here either. (these are spandex that they wear under the soccer shorts to help cut down on burns from sliding on the floor)

Saskatoon has a couple of nice stores that specialize in soccer gear so we went there and found just what she needed.  Eric came and met us there.  He must come in often – or made enough of an impression on the clerk that she remembered him.  She actually remembered that he had bought some good cleats to send out to some of his friends in Africa.  Those cleats were still on sale and so Sara also got some for outdoor.  Outdoor season is about finished – just provincial high school soccer finals in Yorkton this week.  She can break her new cleats in on the ice and snow maybe!

 

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Chocolate!

A couple dozen chocolate chip muffins

Five dozen chocolate chip cookies

Brownies – 2 pans

Big bake/craft sale for the church women’s group and the youth group tomorrow.  Haven’t baked so much since last Christmas.

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