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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Reading the Scriptures: Our Most Fundamental Mistake


...one of our most fundamental mistakes in the reading of scripture, particularly of the New Testament, is to assume that the structures and the systems it describes are as sacred and authoritative as the principles it affirms. Not only is this wrong, it is idolatrous, even blasphemous, to use the word of God to affirm and maintain human privilege. It was wrong in the interpretation that God approved and encouraged chattel slavery, it was wrong in the maintenance of a climate in which the persecution of the Jews could be regarded as biblical, and it is wrong, unequivocally wrong, in imposing first-century social standards on the participation of women in the life of the church simply to preserve the abstraction of the authority of scripture and the preservation of a status quo favorable to those already in power. 143

- Peter J. Gomes. 1996. The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

5 comments:

Anthony Herron said...

Bro. Scott,
I whole-heartedly agree with the comments in the article The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind. I have had brethren justify slavery to me by using parts of the Scriptures; eg. "Servants obey your masters. . ." They have also reasoned (with foolish logic) that since it was white people that introduced Christianity to blacks, slavery was not totally a bad thing.
They have further reasoned that since Christians are obligated to obey the laws of the land, they were not to support the civil rights movement and were to obey the laws of segregation. They get angry with me because I ask them to use that same logic and not oppose abortions since the law of the land regarding abortion is in favor of abortions (Roe vs Wade decision).

scott saboy said...

Thanks for dropping by and for taking time to comment, brother.

It is truly shameful that many a Christian has (mis)used the Bible to justify a wrongful attitude or act and rationalize apathy to or a double standard stance on pressing moral concerns.

One wonders how the civil rights movement would have gone or ended were the eight Birmingham clergymen's "Call for Unity" heeded by all of America, and King's call for action in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" rejected.

Thankfully, there has been a multitude of Afro-Americans and White Americans who refused to toe the line of segregation and apathy largely drawn by church politicians...

spellspy said...

This idea of discerning the Structures as being separate from the Principles is new to me.

Well, I have never thought of it. It brings to light how acute must have been the (HIS) response pattern (”Unto Caesar what is his and unto ‘ME what is MINE’ ") to the structure, how challenging its praxis to assert itself critically.

If the structure is applied to centres, as “Brides” themselves, the context of response is still challenging. May be there’s hope for a neo -ecumenism which bridges the gap of differences in methodologies, worship and fellowship.

spellspy said...

Thanks for enlightening me again with Fudge’s quote. He could add a 4. -- Episcopal Churches which formed from the Orthodox tradition, which combines the hierarchy of the Orthodox with Protestantism. There is also a newer offshoot that is, a church which combines Episcopalism with Pentecostalism. There are also subaltern Churches.

It is interesting to read your biographical reference. Thanks for listening to the humble laity ( smile, always the doubting Thomas).

scott saboy said...

let's keep reflecting on our doubt and faith as we take our quest for meaning from west to east -- hopefully, we will not end up being lanced in India. :)