Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three Things To Do Before I Die

1. Spread the awareness that has been precipitating through my own mind, enlightening me to the fact that none of us is ever going to understand the Bible if we limit ourselves to modern translations and diction. For one thing, language is fluid, and thus a translation is dated by the time of its completion. I read book after book that critiques liturgical and ritual practice that we've inherited, and the thrust of all these arguments, even though no one author has dared to sum it up in such brass tacks, is quite simply that all our unbiblical practices stem from a distortion of the biblical text. In other words, if we approach the Bible without a proper understanding of the context and culture to which its books were directed, we lack the foundational principles to properly interpret it--even when we do so with good intentions or unbiased, open hearts. Is this a flaw with the Bible? No. A flaw with us? You betcha! I don't here mean to suggest that it isn't God-breathed or that God wrote an incomplete book, but I am convinced that every ounce of apostasy hinges on poor hermeneutical principles, i.e. a misreading of the Biblical text, which often results from reading our present understanding into the past, instead of employing a proper chronology. (The catch, of course, is that we impose upon ourselves the study of history, the evolution of theology and ritual, and so on. How many of us are willing to do that?) It seems painfully clear to me that, if properly understood, a critical reading of the Bible would necessarily shatter the way we conform our Christian lives to our culture and convict us toward a Christ-centric lifestyle. In this realization, Pagan Christianity is only one of several books that lends itself to my assessment.

2. Study the supplementary info that would shed proper light on every verse of the Bible. All I have discovered is my own ignorance. I read entire books that only illuminate small excerpts of the biblical text, but in so doing I force myself into a rude awakening about how impossible it would have been for me to discern these things without getting my grubby hands onto copies of the original documents (Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and so on) as well as the archaelogical and historical evidence that enlightens me about the distortions that I see every day. I could here breathe an intense sigh and give up, or pick up my cross and keep walking after the Shepherd's voice. Gonna do the latter, and not just because I'm a sap for punishment.

3. Teach people how to do the same. I used to think that alternative/pagan religions were the church's greatest enemy. I am presently learning to accept the fact that a distortion of the true message of the Bible and example of Christ is a far more effective tool in Satan's workbox.

In summary: A Bible is dangerous in the hands of people who don't equip themselves with the proper methods of interpretation that allow them to understand it. If by dangerous I mean lethal. The Word of God is a sword. Many a soldier has died from falling on his weapon. The bigger the weapon, the bigger the potential injury.

Anyway, we forge on.


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