Many of you know that before I stopped going to church almost 2 years ago, I worked in the local church setting in some capacity for nearly 24 years. During that time, I was a part of 9 different churches, 4 denominations and an immeasurable number of theological conversations (read arguments).
You see, each tradition had its own spin on the bible. Each community had a preference for how to interpret things and each one had their own categories for how to interpret the bible, and make sense of the world. That may sound all well and good, but the common thread is that none of these completely agreed with each other, and yet each one held that their perspective was the best perspective for growing a person’s faith and bringing people closer to God.
Expand that out to all the churches in all the city and you have tremendous diversity even among those in the Christian tradition.
Most of the disagreements among church leaders is how they interpret the bible. Surprisingly, most believe that a biblical worldview is necessary and thus taking the bible seriously and interpreting it literally is an aspect of true belief. If a modern person doesn’t take the bible literally, many churches today would see this as not having real faith.
The above link tells the story and shows video of a pastor whose spin on the bible was to take it literally. The passage in question is Mark 16:18 (which some early manuscripts of the bible don’t even contain). This verse says that those who believe in Jesus will be saved, those who don’t will be condemned, and the signs that will accompany those who are saved will be:
- casting out demons
- speaking in new tongues
- picking up serpents with their hands
- drinking deadly poison ( and not being harmed)
- laying hands on the sick and seeing them recover.
Here’s my point:
One denomination invalidates another because they worship with a pipe organ instead of a modern worship band where a dude with a neck beard and skinny jeans is throwing down some David Crowder.
The next denomination invalidates another because they are not “reformed” enough.
The next invalidates the other because one is too traditional.
Yet each one preaches front he pulpit that they are proclaiming truth, that they have the secret sauce for true belief.
In the end, most people see the pastor handling snakes as a whack job. And obviously, since he died of a snake bite, his interpretation of the bible is certainly suspect. But one could argue that he really believed, and his belief was demonstrable. In one sense, he is shaming all other denominations that don’t handle snakes. The way he lives out his faith calls into question the veracity of anyones trust in the bible if they didn’t handle snakes.
Of course people will argue that the bible wasn’t meant to be interpreted that way. But if you use this argument when defending and affirming homosexuals as I have, then your interpretation is immediately invalidated and your faith is called into question.
It’s all relative and quite hypocritical.
In the end, all people are selective bible believers, not total bible believers. After all, the poison drinkers could call into question the veracity of the snake charmers belief. And all the sick that lay in beds around the world can certainly call into question the veracity of anyone’s Christian faith. In this sense all of us are wanna-be’s. Even those who disregard the bible will find agreement with it in some places.
This should provide a level of humility about our beliefs and allow all of us to extend some much needed mercy towards those who have varying faith commitments. I hope it extends outside of the Christian faith towards those of other religions.
I believe there is a much better approach than what we see. I have outlined it in my new book called: Oblivious. I hope you will check it out.
Check it out here:http://repotnow.com/oblivious/