Self Defense from a Fundamentalist Attack
12 Scriptures no fundamentalist believes
(Part 4 “The letter of the law kills, but the spirit gives life”)
According to most forms of fundamentalism, scripture is to be taken literally. In other words, when we read the ancient poetry of Genesis, fundamentalism believes it is reading an astronomy and biology textbook as well. Luther saw Copernicus as arrogant for seeking truth outside God’s revealed word. Even today, there are fundamentalists who deem evolutionary biology not as an objective search for truth, but as an assault on their own literal understanding of the Bible.
The fundamentalist believer is supposed to hold that the Bible was dictated word for word and has endured countless translations into radically different languages and cultures over vast spans of time without any serious impact upon its meaning.
If we see a contradiction in reading scripture, as we certainly will, we are told to lie to ourselves and call our dishonesty “faith”. So, when scripture begins with two contradictory creation stories, instead of using them as two different poems about the human condition, we are to duct tape them together into one scientific version that numbs the mind and heart at once. Later, when Judas dies two contradictory deaths we are asked to, in the words of Feuerbach, “pluck out our eyes that we might see better.”
What do you suppose Paul meant when he said “the letter of the law kills but the spirit gives life?” (2 Cor. 3:6) What do you think he meant when he told a story from Genesis, and said “this is an analogy?” (Gal. 4:24) And if the truth can put into the black and white of logical assertions, then why did Jesus teach in parables? What was his view of truth that he taught it in riddles?
The reason we cannot take the Bible literally is not only that it has been translated into vastly different kinds of languages. The reason we cannot take it literally is not only that we cannot use the vocabulary of our culture to understand a wildly different place and time. The primary reason we cannot take scripture literally is because human language is symbolic by nature.
Human beings do not perceive our environment directly or objectively. We perceive the world through our bodies, through our memories, through our hopes and fears, and always through some cultural vocabulary. We are subjective beings down to our core. Objectivity may be a worthy goal, but it is never our foundation.
If you believe your subjective interpretation is objective, then what are you to make of it when my subjective interpretation differs from yours? If you are a fundamentalist and believe the Bible can be understood literally, then you will have to assume that I am wrong. After all, it’s perfectly clear when you look down at the page. At first, you will lovingly try to correct me, but if I persist in my error against the plain meaning of scripture, at some point you may feel the need to punish me until I repent of my error, assuring me of your love as you tearfully turn the screws.
The study of how we interpret language is called “hermeneutics,” and it is a very important art. The study of hermeneutics is an attempt to remember that we all bring filters and lenses to the text. None of us sees with the eye of God, but if we put our subjectivities together, we can share a picture of our common life vastly richer than any of us could reach alone. But to reach such shared meaning, we have to get beyond literalism. Or, as the Bible says, “those who have ears, let them hear.”
If I am unaware that I am wearing sunglasses, it is the world that seems dark. If the world looks bright and cheery to you, I can only assume that you are lying about something so simple as the weather. Eventually, I will find other people who see the world the same way I do and we will call ourselves a denomination. At that point, our mistaken objectivity can become deadly, but it will consist of kind loving people who have no idea where the trouble is coming from.
One of my favorite discussion points with fundamentalists is Romans13:1. When there is talk of God’s plan, and God has control, then why the backlash against the winner of an election? This verse is definitely one that needs study in the context of its time – a Roman Empire. This could be a starting point in opening the eyes of a fundamentalist regarding the inerrancy of Scripture.
The law of Moses was set in place for a reason. Much like the reason for it today. Without laws, society would collapse, there would be turmoil and chaos. If you would continue to read 2 Corinthians, and other scriptures, you will find the answer to your own question, “the letter of the law kills but the Spirit gives life?” Here we see a big difference between the Mosaic law and the new covenant (the gospel). Old covenant lead to death, new covenant leads to life. Paul continues to write in verses 7-9,
“BUT IF THE MINISTRATION OF DEATH (MOSAIC LAW), WRITTEN AND ENGRAVEN IN STONES, WAS GLORIOUS, SO THAT THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL COULD NOT STEDFASTLY BEHOLD THE FACE OF MOSES FOR THE GLORY OF HIS COUNTENANCE; WHICH GLORY WAS TO BE DONE AWAY: HOW SHALL NOT THE MINISTRATION OF THE SPIRIT(NEW COVENANT) BE RATHER GLORIOUS? FOR IF THE MINISTRATION OF CONDEMNATION BE GLORY, MUCH MORE DOES THE MINISTRATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS EXCEED IN GLORY”.
So, we see here that Paul is calling both covenants as GLORIOUS. In verse 10, he writes that even though the old law was glorious, it fails to compare to the New. Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, we no longer have to sacrifice doves, sheep and goats to cleanse us of our sins. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, for that if we do sin, we are not bound by the old law of death, but forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, the atonement for our sins. Paul also wrote by saying, Therefore, shall we continue in sin? GOD FORBID, CERTAINLY NOT!, but he also said that IF WE DO sin, the law of grace is there. There is no twisting of the scriptures here on my part. You must also look at other writings by Paul and see that he is against homosexuallity, theres no dening it. So if He is speaking against something that was written in the old covenant, but then speaking in reference to the new covenant, than it’s safe to assume that he is agreeing with the old law in someway. This is exactly what he meant by where sin abounded, much more did grace abound. Laws keep us in order, it’s something we strive to live by, it was given to us for our own good. Even the laws of food, in Leviticus telling us what we should eat. We don’t abide by these laws, but they are actually healthy eating habits, which would help us have longer and happier lives. We make the choice ourselves to eat the biblical way or we choose to eat unhealthy and suffer the consequences of our decisions. Are we to not obey the Ten Commandments? Weren’t they part of the old law?
Then you ask about Paul’s meaning of Gal 4: 24, and how he refers to Genesis as an Allegory. Did you read the verses before this one? The previous veses is an important fact about Abraham having two sons, one born to a bondservant(Hagar who birthed Ismael) and the other one born to Sarah, the freewoman, named Isaac. “BUT HE (ISHMAEL) WHO WAS OF THE BONDWOMAN WAS BORN AFTER THE FLESH; BUT HE(ISAAC) OF THE FREEWOMAN WAS BY PROMISE” GAL 4:23.
Then this is when Paul gets to the reason and describes it this way in Gal 4:24, “WHICH THINGS ARE AN ALLEGORY: FOR THESE ARE THE TWO COVENANTS; THE ONE FROM MOUNT SINAI, WHICH GENDERETH TO BONDAGE, WHICH IS HAGAR”. An allogory is an extended story in which all the details have meaning. In this allegory, the two sons are for two covenants. Paul didn’t say the entire book of Genesis was an allegory. If theres anyone who is filtering scriptures to promote their views, it’s seems to be you. I have made several comments on your “but what about Romans” blog, and if anyone has a comment about anything I am commenting here, I ask that you first read those other comments before you comment on this one. Thank goodness for freedom of speech and these posts. You just can’t let anyone hear one side of the argument and think that it must be correct.
I know that the Bible was translated over and over again. But if you read the Hebrew and Greek, most, if not the majority of the bibles written today are right on with the original Hebrew and Greek translations. Some bible translations are translated so that an eight grader would understand it, and some are geared toward the language of today, doesn’t mean the meanings are lost. There are also books written a couple of hundred years ago up to today that have been translated into millions of languages, does not mean their interpretations are lost. Do you say the same about history books? The fact of the matter is, the bible is quite obvious and clear on it’s stance against homosexuality. The problem is that the gay and lesbians do not want to give it up. They are consumed by it and so instead of honoring scriptures that are against it, they twist it or overlook it by saying it doesn’t mean that. This is what Paul was talking about when he said, “They became lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God”. They enjoy their lifestyle, but yet some still want to be Christians, and so this is when scripture gets twisted to fit their pleasing. Then this is where people like Mr. Rigby come in and help them ease into their lifestyle by providing them with a false hope and misinterpretation of scripture(filtered scripture). Mr. Rigby, you remind of what Jesus spoke about in Luke 1:1-2,
JESUS SAID TO HIS FOLLOWERS, “THINGS THAT CAUSE PEOPLE TO SIN WILL HAPPEN, BUT HOW TERRIBLE FOR THE PERSON WHO CAUSES THEM TO HAPPEN! IT WOULD BE BETTER FOR YOU TO BE THROWN INTO THE SEA WITH A LARGE STONE AROUND YOUR NECK THAN TO CAUSE ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES TO SIN. That’s Jesus talkin. You can say what you like about Romans, but it’s obvious that Paul is condemming homosexuality. The Romans chapter 2:1, that you say fundamentalist forget, is Paul telling them to not be judgemental, which is true. Paul is just driving home the point that Jesus said, ” HIPPOCRITES! FIRST REMOVE THE PLANK THAT IS IN YOUR OWN EYE, BEFORE YOU REMOVE THE SPIC THAT IS IN YOUR BROTHER’S EYE”. The problem with todays Christianity is that in their attempt to condemn homosexuality, they condem the homosexual. If Jesus were to visit with us today, He would not go to the religious person’s home, He would visit with the homosexual and other sinners, because those are the ones who need His help. This however, does not mean that He would condone their behavior, He is there to show them his love, His caring love not a perverted love. I believe that some homosexuals will be in heaven, but it will be those who are struggling with the sin of homosexuallity, and are trying their best to not do it. If they have a truely repentive heart, God will forgive them, not the ones who accept it as a lifestyle. There is forgiveness of sins, including homosexuallity, but one must want to be forgiven, repent and turn away from it, not accept it. Let’s look at another verse by Jesus in Matt 6: 24, Now I know that Jesus is speaking about the love of money and that how God is more important, but the verse is for all sin, which includes homosexuallity, adultery, lust, greed, you name it. 24. “NO ONE CAN SERVE TWO MASTER’S, EITHER HE WILL HATE THE ONE OR LOVE THE OTHER, OR WILL FOLLOW ONE MASTER AND REFUSE THE OTHER. Then he says you cannot serve God and money. This verse goes for all sin because the want or lust of money is greed and greed is sin.
So if the homosexual lifestyle is ok, then what about beastiallity? What your saying is that if a man is to the point of having such love for his dog, that if he has a sexual desire for it, that he should have sex with it? There is no difference between beastiallity and homosexuallity according to the bible. So are you going to stand up for the one who thinks that beastiality shoud be accepted as well? Agree or disagree, this is unnatural, even if there are 400 species of plants and animals that are gay, it’s still unnatural given the fact that there is nearly 9 million plant and animal species on the planet or more. So yes, homosexuality is unnatural, because a man’s genitals are made to go into a woman’s genitals, that’s the natural course of things. Ever try and put a puzzle together? Notice how the pieces must fit together, how they were premade to fit into the right piece? You just don’t get the right picture or the true picture when you try and go against the natural task of putting together the beautiful puzzle.
You speak of how we are not to take the bible literally, but isn’t that what your doing to promote your cause? Your understanding of it? And your commenting?
I can go on and on, reply after reply, and you could probably too. But, there is no two ways, and no if, ands or buts about it. God is not silent on homosexuality, it is what it is…SIN! If you are not going to accept all the bible, then don’t accept any of it. If your a Christian, than show them the real love of Christ, not help them continue in their sin and be ok with it.
I think I became a theologian when Pope John Paul II (I was in Catholic school then) apologized to Galileo for how the church treated him, attempting to silence him for his scientific discoveries that conflicted with the bible and church teaching. For me, the four corners of the earth signaling a flat earth were my point of departure with biblical literalism.