Elemental Season 1 - Day 16

"Tools of Destruction."

Yesterday I mentioned some tools that I had used when I was 15 to deconstruct the room we had been given to remodel. What tools do we use when we deconstruct our faith down to its elemental pieces? Do we use philosophical and hermeneutical sledgehammers, or do we use dental tools so as to be more precise? 

There are a lot of tools in our toolbox when it comes to studying scripture and creating a new and perhaps more mature understanding of the texts that we have often taken for granted over the years. Obviously, there are many different resources and commentaries and bible dictionaries that we can use. However, there are a few things that you have to decide upon first. 

  1. What do you believe to be true about Scripture?

Perhaps this seems like a simple question, but when we dig down into it, it is often a bit more complicated than we think. I would venture that most of us believe that scripture is God-breathed and that it holds truth about God, about the Universe, and about us. I believe that all these things are true. And thematically, there are no issues in my mind about this. However, what do we believe about how they were written? Do we believe that they were verbally inspired by God? In other words, do we believe that God partnered with Humans in the way that he inspired them, or do we believe that God spoke and the writers of scripture wrote down what they heard, word for word? These are two very different ideas of how we believe scripture to have come about, and they lead us in two different directions. 

Perhaps you have never thought about this before. Many people don’t, because they don’t think they have to. It is easy to say “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it. . .” as the song goes. However, this is not only naive, it is actually dangerous to say flippantly. Many people say the same thing but are interpreting scripture in very different ways from one another, and are actually completely disagreeing with one another, although they have this very simple statement as their creed. 

Here is an example, do you think you believe in the same way that the Westboro Baptist Church believes? They are the church that pickets the funerals of servicemen and women who have died in the line of duty. They do this because of the way that they interpret a few particular texts in relation to sexuality in scripture. Do you think you interpret scripture in the same way that they do? I would highly doubt that you do. But they believe they are protecting something by their actions, and these actions, they believe, are informed by a very particular understanding of inspiration and revelation.

The “tool” that they use to interpret scripture is one of verbal inspiration and a “plain” reading of scripture. It is a particularly fundamentalist approach that assumes that scripture is simple, that God always agrees with their interpretation of that scripture, and that therefore their actions are justified, regardless of how heinous they are. 

What is the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of Revelation and Inspiration? 

I’ll break this down more tomorrow, but in a short version, the SDA understanding of inspiration and revelation is that God partners with people to reveal and inspire them to write, in their own words, what has been shown to them. 

That’s the short version, more tomorrow. 

  1. Have you thought about how the Bible was inspired? 
  2. Do you think that God dictated the words to people, or was there another mechanism that might have been in play? 
  3. What do you think you would write if you were “inspired’ by God? 

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