Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Question on the Purpose of Scripture

Recently, over at HeisSailing's blog Jennypo, Heather, and I got into some deep discussion about the purpose of the scriptures, even the Christ. Here is a blog worthy of some deep discussion.

"I think Christ came that we might have a better understanding of what it really means ‘to love our neighbor’ - and this entails a lot of things - none of the least about ‘loving ourselves’ (or how can one ‘love their neighbor’ if they never know ‘love’ themselves? Also the whole law and prophets hinge on something similar ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ - which requires some serious self-introspection). " (SocietyVs)

"The Bible’s thesis on Jesus’ purpose in coming into the world is clear: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10); “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (John 12:47); “…he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16); “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1:15)". He didn’t come to teach us, or to show us. He came to be one of us, so that he could take our death, the death sentence that passed to us when Adam and Eve chose sin instead of God. (Jennypo)

"Many of his disciples called him Rabbi, and he used parables to get his message across, which is a teaching tool. Because you can save a person from sin by teaching them, or showing them the way. Yes, the crucifixion was necessary, because no one really ‘got it’ until they saw Jesus resurrected. But if it only took the crucifixion, then I don’t think Jesus would’ve spent three years teaching. " (Heather)

"Or that we might ‘have life, and at that abundately’. But life involves everyone around us also (the whole ‘no person is an island’ idea) and for life to be something on par with what God see’s us as - well this takes a lot of sacrifice on our parts - and turning from an ‘old idea’ to a ‘new idea’ - renewal of the mind - and seeing that we effect every single person around us (either for the betterment or worseness of the single event) - so we have some honest and sincere living to do (in love of our lives and in the love of others). " (Societyvs)

So what do you think - what is the purpose of the scriptures and the Christ? I mean we do have quite a bit of information on Jesus' teachings (from disciples) and if the cross is the only meaning - are we missing more of the story? You tell me, what purpose do you see in those scriptures?


John Shuck said...

Thanks, Society for asking good questions and for moderating the discussion in such a winsome way!

I think the scriptures are records of human responses to God, to deep ethical and moral questions, and to the ancients' understanding of their history.

As such they provide wisdom and insight for us. I also think we need to understand that they were written with an understanding of the world and universe that is far different from ours. They were written in a literary style that is quite different from ours. This makes it a challenge in interpretation.

For me, the core of the scriptures is love. Love is that which reunites that which has been separated.

With the power of the Divine spirit, perhaps that love can unite this hurting and divided world.

Soul Food Dude said...

"How is that I should have to have answers for something Abraham did or didn't do? I follow Jesus... None of these things belong to me, I respect them, but they are not my traditions."

True, we don't inherit much of the Jewish tradition, but surely we believe that it was the same God speaking to Abraham that speaks to us now? I'm not probing for answers concerning Abraham's actions... just probing with questions about my own actions, my own beliefs, as a person who believes in the God of Abraham. I suppose the answer I have come hold right now is that I would have to be convinced that it was God -- not some other force, spirit, devil, whatever -- that was telling me to do such a thing. I would resist an order like that tooth and nail.

Soul Food Dude said...

Christ came to save us from sin and death. Death here being more than just physical death... death of all that is good and sacred and precious. Sin here is more than just wrong deeds. It is being against God, against ourselves, against our neighbors.

This salvation is total, and I believe is is also progressive. We get eternal life now, the beginning of, it, in the transformation of faith, hope, and love. The faith that Jesus called for, the hope he provided, and the love that he exemplified and taught. Christ came to "begin a good work" in us... the beginning of our salvation and restoration. We become who we're made to be. This involves a renewing of "heart, soul, mind, and strength"... everything about us. Because we lack in so many aspects, the restoration occurs in so many aspects. Jesus' teaching saves. His forgiveness saves. His example saves. His love saves. His service saves. His miracles save. His presence saves.

The restoration is us being restored to God, and the restoration process continues to illumine the centrality and significance and purpose for us in those two greatest commands: Love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as yourself. To be in loving fellowship with God and with fellow humans and with fellow creation is the restored state. It is a mystery why we only get glimpses of the full restoration right now. That is God's mystery. Why he would use a mere book to disclose some of his secrets is a secret itself. But I think it doesn't hurt to point out what this mode of disclosure does to our relationship to God. Among other things, it pushes us to make a decision of devotion: will I or will I not follow Jesus?

"Follow me" is becoming my favorite line from Jesus. A command that meets me afresh every morning. And there's the magic: by God's grace, we CAN follow Jesus, however imperfectly we may be at this point, and in following Jesus we learn an amazing thing... that Jesus' teaching and example are there to lead us to an understanding of that one true Love from which this awesome grace flows, and that we were made to receive that love and to give it ourselves.

My Garden said...

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth = Bible

superduper said...


SocietyVs said...

"I suppose the answer I have come hold right now is that I would have to be convinced that it was God -- not some other force, spirit, devil, whatever -- that was telling me to do such a thing. I would resist an order like that tooth and nail." (SFD)

To be honest I really love the question you posed here about Abraham and the order to kill his son - which seems contradictory in most of our minds - (some people see no problem with it).

My problem with the question is something rather simple, time period & ethics. Has the way people deal with people changed thru-out history (ethics) and was God humble enough to speak our language and respect our times - so as to break into the earth and into Abraham's ears (in a way that Abraham could grasp it 'was defintitely Him' speaking)?

I think God speaks to each generation of people in their current contextual understanding of the world around them. Abraham is from a world-view we might never understand - so much more archaic than ours - although the inner-questions might be there - Abe needed more - which he got. We won't have another sign apparently nor do we need one - we have eons of history to peruse and make a decision with (concerning 'faith' in God).

But if God asks me to sacrifice my son you can be sure I won't listen one iota - things have changed from Abe til now and I admit that 100%. Jesus even presents a picture of God that seems to be 'anti-violence' (so murder is right out)...and that would be my logical basis for the decision - since I follow Jesus and the times, well they changed (even Jewish scholars are ready to admit this in their 37 books - a progression of the way faith in God is viewed).

The only thing troubling is people that try to live up to earlier times standards (ex: Mosaic Law) of right/wrong and don't realize that God used these things so we as humans could be reached - or God humbles himself to become in 'our image'.

HeIsSailing said...

I think the purpose of Scripture is man trying to make sense of God. I don't any more thank the Bible in Inerrant in any way. Is it inspired? I don't know. Maybe inspired in the sense that great music is inspired, since the authors were contemplating the spiritual realm very deeply. The Purpose of Scripture for me as a reader was to discover God's plan of Salvation for mankind. wow.. I am not so sure about that now..

Soul Food Dude said...

Not too long ago, I held something of the same view as heissailing describeds above. But I changed my mind. I realized that I love Jesus, the miracle-working man from God that the gospel stories claim to speak the truth about. I realized that I had fallen so in love with this Jesus that so long as there is room for me to believe, I will -- because the hope I find in Jesus is by far the sweetest thing I've ever found. It is humbling to be confronted with uncertainty of the past, with not even a good understanding of why and how I believe the gospel. But yet I cannot deny that I can believe it, in full view of all the evidence I could find, and that this Jesus has made all the difference for me. I was into mysticism -- I find Buddhism a very attractive religion/philosophy -- but now I find nothing but myself in mysticism. And in the gospel story, I find someone else... someone who confronts me, challenges me, and loves me. But I agree with heissailing in that I don't think the Bible is inerrant. However, I do think that God speaks through Jesus, and Jesus is found in the Bible, and the context of Jesus' view of God is found in the Bible, and that God is definitely using the Bible in a unique way to disclose very important things about himself. I don't think the Bible is infallible, but I think God is, and if God desires to use this quirky big book, then I trust his usage. I think trust in God really gets rolling when we can no longer trust ourselves, and any one view/interpretation we come up with. That God prevails even if we don't always know when it's happening.

the_burning_bush said...

Teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.

I also liked mygarden's answer.

the_burning_bush said...

"Jesus even presents a picture of God that seems to be 'anti-violence' (so murder is right out)..." SocietyVS

It seems like a mistake to label Abraham as a murderer. Maybe it is a mistake to label him at all.

"things have changed from Abe til now and I admit that 100%."

Perhaps you are suggesting you have suprassed Abraham? Or that somehow society has surpassed him?

Or maybe you are saying: "Back then God valued faith and obedience. These days He wants us to recycle and quit smoking."

Is this supposed to be a change for the better?

SocietyVs said...

"Perhaps you are suggesting you have suprassed Abraham? Or that somehow society has surpassed him?" (BBush)

I think my point is relative to time period and not the actual person of Abraham. Society has shifted and changed over the past few thousand years and God is still with us - and I think this communication has changed for humans and God - based on the reflective time period and how God uses what 'we currently know' to speak into us. I think I made the point 'God humbled himself to be like us'...which speaks volumnes in one little sentence.

"Or maybe you are saying: "Back then God valued faith and obedience. These days He wants us to recycle and quit smoking...Is this supposed to be a change for the better?" (BBush)

I think faith and obedience are still part of the equation - so much so that to deny either is to deny this value system the disciples laid out. Faith is an aspect (we believe in God) and obedience is another ('follow me' - or action on our parts in regards to our faith).

I am starting to develop a new light on the scenario concerning 'value systems' (or what I call a paradigm). I think the teachings of Jesus give us a great 'value system' and 'perspective' on each and every situation we will face. I would say I value my faith in God quite highly - and this is usually reflected in my actions.