Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Patience for Interpretation

Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. (Second Timothy 3:16 - today's KTIS verse of the day)
At last night's "Friends of the ELCA" meeting someone remarked about all the different Christian denominations and how all of them claim to be based on the Bible.  There are differences, for example, about baptism that have existed for many, many years.  There are differences about how people understand God's gift of life and questions about whether it is ever permissible to end that life through abortion or the death penalty.  Someone mentioned that if they "googled" "Christian denominations" that they're sure they would find thousands.  Someone mentioned that there are differences of Biblical interpretation even among husbands and wives.  Are they all to divorce and "disaffiliate" when they run up against differences that won't go away?

How can people continue together in spite of their differences?  In my opinion the church has done well when we sketch out a wide boundary for what might be acceptable in Scriptural interpretation.  The difficulty for many of us in connection with the ELCA is that it seems as though some positions are not based in scriptural interpretation but instead come out of experience and conscience.  We believe what has held us together under a big tent has been an agreement that we will discuss everything on a biblical basis.  That, for some of us, is what it means when we say that the Bible is our "authoritative source and norm."

Last night I wrote a piece called "Is It Possible?"  Is it possible to remain together as we work out our differences?  I think it is IF we agree that all our differences need to be discussed on the basis of scripture rather than appealing to experience or conscience above scripture.  If we can agree on that, I think we can be patient with one another as we interpret and work out what the Scriptures mean for our life today.

Being patient is not post-modern relativism. Being patient--even being patient in suffering--that is a command of God.



  1. 2 Thessalonians

    9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a POWERFUL DELUSION so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

    I can't get past this scripture.

  2. We should NEVER "get past" the Word of God. The Word of God is to get past our defenses and convict us of our sin, put us to death and raise us up. If we devalue God's Word it can't do that. That's the main problem, isn't it.