Biblical Authority

I recently went in for my annual eye exam and was fitted for new lenses. The difference between them and my old ones is pretty significant. Mind you, I could have kept wearing my old lenses, and they would have sufficed, but the new ones are so much better. And clearer. That’s the way it goes in life, doesn’t it? Our lives are a process of experiences that lead to new insights and learnings. We move forward and just when we think we’ve got it something new happens that redefines and shapes our thinking.

I think that is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote, “When I was a child I spoke, thought and acted like a child. When I became an adult I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Human history is really the story of continually “putting away childish things.” From a Judeo-Christian perspective this makes sense. The first thing our scriptures say about God is that God is a creator. And creators create! They are always doing something new. In fact, the Bible says God is doing a “new thing” quite often. Christians could argue that Jesus is the embodiment of God’s doing a new thing in order to restore the goodness and wholeness of all creation. I think that is the message of Easter.

And this creative activity continues on through the work of the church as it is empowered by God’s Spirit.

Or not.

The great danger of belief is that it does not tolerate unbelief. That is to say the opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty. Certainty often leads to a kind of

self-righteousness that justifies rudeness, contempt, and lack of compassion.

Just think of the religious issues today. All religions tend toward self-righteousness when they claim to have the truth.  The conflict that arises out of certainty often leads to physical, emotional, verbal, and spiritual violence.

Claimers of the truth use Biblical authority to support their claims.

And there’s the rub.

Biblical authority is used to condemn homosexuality, and same gender marriage. Biblical authority is used to justify the Right to Life movement. Biblical authority is used to condemn all other people of faith as apostate, destined for hell. But others can use Biblical authority to question the motives and rationale of those who are homophobic, or support the Right to Life movement or the diversity of religions, which raises the question of Biblical authority itself.

Of course some will automatically answer, “No it doesn’t. You’re wrong and we’re right.”

Well, maybe so. Maybe I am wrong. I’ll take my chances.

I’ll take my chances on a God that is compassionate, especially for those who experience little compassion from others. I’ll take my chances on a God that loves unconditionally. Unconditionally. I’ll take my chances on a God that relishes in the richness of diversity in creation, in faith expression, in culture, and the fullness of human life. I’ll take my chances on a God that not only gives laws, but transcends them, making new ones in their place.

I’ll take my chances on a God that is always doing a new thing.

And just like the clarity I have from my new lenses, I try to approach the Bible from the perspective of this God who is always doing a new thing. In that way I am open to the possibilities of God’s love breaking through in new ways that leads ultimately to a world that is made whole again, and we all experience what it means to be a part of the family of God.

Without new lenses from time to time I run the risk of going blind.