“You just interpret the bible to fit into your own thinking. You’re not allowing the bible to change your thinking.” (Temaskian)
I agree – I am not orthodox – but my faith and that bible do not ask me to be. Nowhere am I ever asked to adhere to the thought of a trinity and various atonement theories. Anyone that says anything like that has not read all 27 books and letters in the NT and cross-compared the vaiety of messages being offered from the synoptics, to Paul, to James, to John. These things need to be weighed out a lot better IMO.
As for interpretation, I would call what I do elaboration – in line with the rabbinic literature should be approached. These are not just words on a page – they need to be examined and re-examined and then re-examined somemore for the reality we have to face…what I call experiential theology…living the ideals.
If the teachings are just literal – then literal needs to be defined better and linguistics also needs to be looked at with regards to what is written (and context). I would say ‘yes’ they are ‘literally words on a page’…but they are meaningless without some substance…and now for 2 examples.
(a) The words become flesh – literal or metaphorical? For example, I am talking about an experiential theology – living what it is you are reading…in a sense I am saying…you are the words become flesh (a spiritual paradigm). This point is being made about Jesus in John’s intro – a book I find filled with symbolism and not literalism.
(b) You mentioned the beatitudes – namely the persecution aspect of those beatitudes. You only want to see a literalism to that verse – and not what it is pointing the person towards. Agreed, people will suffer for their faith – for holding to teachings that run contrary to some aspects of society…ever try be loving person in a gang? You don’t only lose respect I can tellz ya that.
But that teaching is about holding firm to your beliefs – having integrity even when it might hurt. Its confirming your faith is not just some magical feeling but experiential in nature and real…tried, tested, and true. It is also pointing the person towards change. If you don’t like the fact the Romans have orgies to their gods – then stop paying tribute to that god or attending those bathhouses. It’s about standing firm for change – and either the situation changes or you will suffer – but either way knowing your going to suffer you make a concrete stand in the face of opposition (ie: like civil rights activists in its hay-day).
I would say that teaching in the beatitudes is the reasoning for keeping one’s core beliefs. Yes there is an aspect of ‘other-worldly’ but your not persecuted for your stand in heaven – but on earth…that teaching is addressing the scenarios people will face ‘here and now’ and asking them to stand firm.
***Comment originally aired at Temaskian’s blog ‘another reason why it’s depressing to be a theist’