Lots of people have been coming clean on their blogs (like Catez) and in emails. One soul (whose name I will withhold to protect her from violent Armenian commenters) has even confessed to me her theological leanings towards five-point Calvinism. I can only wonder, did God elect her to be a Calvinist or did she determine her theology by her own free will? Okay, seriously, I've been wanted to come clean too for some time. Yet I fear my honesty might leave you "terrified, mortified, petrified, stupified." (If you can tell me which movie this quote is from, I'll leave a smiley face on your blog!)
Actually, I've written and abandoned a few posts because I felt that the tone of my writing was not edifying, even to myself. So I will try to avoid ranting. But I may fail. So be gracious to me. I'm in process and not completed yet. But don't fear to disagree with me. There are two high compliments in the blogosphere. The first is to have someone agree with you. The second is to have someone disagree with you. So disagree with me, but know that I deal better with ideas than concrete examples. If you give me a concrete example to counter my thinking, I will probably ignore it, not because I don't care about your example but because I do not like to debate examples. There is always another example out there proving the opposite thing. Not that there is something wrong with examples, but my brain doesn't work that way. When presented with a horde of minute and specific data, I try hard to extract a principle and forget the specifics.
Now, moving into my confessions. . . I was raised in a "Bible Church." As you may know, Bible churches are pretty strong on "the Bible" (as they understood it) and usually nondenominational and dispensational. The college that I attended was right in line with that thinking. The graduate school that I am attending is also in line with that thinking, though with much more flexibility. What about me, you ask? Well, that's a great question.
I feel I am constantly debating in my mind whether I am crazy and abnormal or whether the people around me are crazy and abnormal. Sure, maybe we're both crazy but still I wonder who is MOST crazy--me or them.
For example, I am reading Roy Zuck's Basic Bible Interpretation, Robert Traina's Methodical Bible Study and Oletta Wald's Joy of Discovery in Bible Study. They are all esposing a literal-grammatical-historical reading of the Bible through the method of inductive Bible study. "Why, that's great," I can here you say. To me, it's not great. Though I've been steeped in the literal-grammatical-historical method since I was in diapers, I've been growing increasingly discontent with it for about eight years. No, I'm not rejecting it to become the medieval allegorizer that they warn so strongly against. But I am taking the position that the literal-grammatical-historical method ( from here on LGH) and the inductive method are just methods, imperfect methods, not the gospel. They are highly appealing, especially to rational souls like myself, because they promise consistent, "objective" results, and because they claim to be the only way to truly uphold the dignity and authority of Scripture and avoid heretical interpretations. I just don't agree. LGH is good and necessary as a part of hermeneutics but it does not produce results as consistent as its proponents claim. Please don't tell me that I don't understand the beauty and logic of LGH and inductive Bible study. I think I do. It is what I used to firmly believe was the only way to approach the Bible. I will probably be blogging more about what I do think is a viable way to interpret and study scriptures, but not in this post. Please don't tell me that I'm heading into a subjective interpretational wasteland, at least not yet. Wait for more.
Here is another confession. I don't have the viceral distain or distrust of subjectivity that so many conservative Christians have. In some sense (I plead with you not to misunderstand me), I think truth is subjective. Please don't assume that I've fallen off the deep end and am drowning in relativism. Rather, I think that humans have limited ability to approach truth objectively because we are "in the matrix" so to speak. To say it another way, we are not "third parties" in the universe. We are woven right into the web and we can't entirely get out and look at ourselves. We necessarily experience life and truth and ourselves and other people from the subject's point of view. We are the subject of our own stories and that is how God has made us to be. It is not wrong or undesirable.
I'm not trying to play semantic games nor deny the absoluteness of God and his Word. What I'm saying is that truth is not an merely an abstract concept or merely an object that we can study. All truth is directly related to God. Truth does not exist by itself out there somewhere. All truth comes from God, who is personal (as opposed to being an impersonal force). The only way we can properly relate to God is as our Master and King, not as an object we can study or an abstract concept we can control. I know I need to develop this thought more, but this is the best I can do right now.
This is just too big of a concept to develop in a blog post but I have to say, while I appeciate the work of men such as Josh McDowell, I am highly dissatisfied with the constant drone about truth being objective and absolute, as though anyone with a brain can just go out there and figure it out just as we figure out the mathemathics of gravity or the physics of light. Probably my Calvinism is showing, but I must bring up the doctrine of total depravity. Without Christ, we are all living in a corrupted relationship with God and even with our own selves. We simply do not have the ability to objectively discover and appraise truth. Our only hope is for Christ to reveal himself to us and to give us the gift of faith to receive him as our savior. I'm sorry, but I think that is a very subjective event from our perspectives. I'm not saying that it is not real. It's the most real thing in my life but it is quite relative to and subject to the work of God in my heart. To this day, I can't really explain how God did his work in my heart to bring me to salvation. I know he did and that I have a relationship with him, but I cannot repeat the event, look at it from a third-party perspective, or scientifically "prove" to anyone that it happened.
If I haven't stupified or mortified you yet, I'm sure that I will succeed in petrifying you before the end of my post. Sometimes in "real" life and sometimes while blogging, I feel that I have to boast about how much I read the Bible or memorize the Bible or how much I study the Bible in order to have a right to express my opinion about a matter of theology or spiritual life. Truthfully, I wish that when I express an opinion I would simply be criticized for that opinion, not be advised to read the Bible more, as if I'm not reading it now. It's true that I don't quote the Bible a lot on my blog. It's not that I don't read it, love it, respect it, obey. It's because if I'm going to use the Scripture, I want to truly do it justice. Usually, I don't have time in my blog writing to hone my writing, and usually I am blogging to help my process my thoughts, not lay out what I have determined will be my final position on a matter though the vast ages of eternity. I don't want to grieve later on about how I misused the Scriptures on my blog. Also, I recognize that because I tend to be abstact and ironic, people can easily misunderstand me. I don't want that misunderstanding to carry over to Scripture.
**There are some people who quote the Scripture on their blog and do it well, avoiding the pitfalls that I just mentioned. Kristen at Walking Circumspectly is one such example. So I'm not saying that no one should quote the Scripture in their posts, not at all.**
I hope that people who read this blog will give me the benefit of doubt. When I write, I am attemping to write from a Scriptural perspective. I do have the Scripture in mind when I write. But I don't have the time or energy to detail all the processes that go into the conclusions that I reach. Just cranking out a post with a little boy running around is hard enough.
Well, I have plenty of political confessions to make later, but right now the only thing I'm going to make is a bowl of cold noodles for dinner. If you made it to this point in my post without understanding anything that I am saying, then you are probably a normal, sensible human being and shouldn't worry about my ramblings too much!