Showing posts with label Old Testament. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Old Testament. Show all posts

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Reading the Old Testament in Iraq


Following is a guest post by Eric, a former Laestadian.

Let me say by way of a preface that many Christian churches do NOT teach that the Bible is inerrant, or that its "truth" lies in literal interpretation. Many Lutheran churches, including the ELCA congregation where I explored the Old Testament for the first time, encourage their members to use a critical approach to the authorship, translation, and interpretation of Scripture. Most mainline seminaries are entirely invested in this method, and not all their graduates emerge as atheists. Christianity is a big tent, and theism is even larger.

My hope is that this blog demonstrates the wide variety of responses to religious tradition and the quest for meaning. Please consider submitting a guest post of your own.

Eric writes:
(As a Laestadian) I shared the idea of the inerrancy of the Bible (it was given by doctrine) and the pursuit of truth. I reasoned that if the Bible is 100% true, then no matter how hard I tried to find it, I couldn’t ever find an inconsistency or contradiction. And, it wouldn't ever hurt to try since there’d be nothing to be afraid of. Either I find that the Bible isn't true (preposterous!), which would therefore mean that I have shed myself of untruth, or I’d find it is true and I’d have verified it for myself. Either way, it would be interesting.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Father's Day Sermon, Laestadian Style

If you want to experience a full dose of Laestadian scripture-twisting, intellectual suicide, biblical whitewashing, authoritarianism, moral equivocation, sectarian exclusivity, self-loathing, group emotionalism, and temporary guilt relief (roughly in that sequence), you can do no better than this Father’s Day sermon by the full-time pastor of the Rockford, Minnesota LLC. What follows are excerpts I’ve transcribed of the sermon, which are somewhat lengthy to address the too-often heard charge of “taking it out of context,” along with various images and videos that seemed appropriate to what was being said.

For some reason, I no longer get teary-eyed when listening to a preacher praise a man who kicked out the son he had conceived with a slave once he finally got himself a legitimate heir, and who “shut down his thinking” in preparation for slicing open his 12-year-old boy with a knife because he heard a voice telling him to. My patience has long since run out for the mindset that has so thoroughly surrendered itself to fideism as to assert, “If you don’t understand, you believe.” It’s certainly not a new attitude: Luther said “we must simply maintain that when we hear God saying something, we are to believe it and not to debate about it but rather take our intellect captive in the obedience of Christ” (Lectures on Genesis, Ch. 3, v. 5).

Even if you don’t understand what it is your are professing to believe, you must believe it nonetheless. It’s no less absurd a proposition than the absurdities that are being “believed” in this way. One example is the Real Presence of Christ in the communion wafer, which Luther held to as an essential point of doctrine. How, then, shall we understand those things which are beyond all our senses, in the Word alone? Thus it is in the Word alone that the bread is the body of Christ, that the wine is the blood of Christ. This must be believed; it must not and cannot be understood” (Id.).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fighting Words

Page from a Gutenberg Bible (1454)
This week I stopped at the downtown public library and saw an exhibition of rare religious texts. With permission, I photographed some of the treasures they had on display. The images you see here are presented in the order of the document’s dating, oldest first.

Witness to the Generations

I meditated on these centuries-old relics for quite a while, considering the many human lifetimes that have passed since the words were pressed and penned onto their pages. Even back then, the sources of those words were already ancient. Most of the books were Bibles, their text copied or translated from a succession of painstakingly hand-copied manuscripts whose original sources have been almost entirely lost in antiquity.

Two columns of clean, bold type stared out at me from the page of a Gutenberg Bible, 558 years after the ink went dry. So much history has passed since then, so many generations born into lives that were “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Thomas Hobbes, 1651). The black and red of the letters seemed not to have faded at all, unlike the colors of whoever pressed the type onto the page in Mainz, Germany–and his child, and that child, and so on. At least twenty generations of lives blooming and fading: a succession of pink-faced infancy transforming into the gray of old age and death, or worse, a dark red death on the endless battlefields of crusade and conquest.