Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sola Scriptura? Not here.

A few times here I've said either that I'm not going to debate scripture or that I want people's arguments to be about more than scripture. Here's why: too often, scripture is used by us church folk as short hand for an idea rather than allowing the idea itself to stand alone.

We hide behind scripture to cover our ass. And since I believe we should all be moving targets, let's at least try for some ideological integrity.

For instance, when I wrote about gay rights a year ago, a reader immediately gave me a whole chapter from the new testament rather than try and explain how denying life insurance benefits for a domestic partner is a christian act.

Whole quotes from scripture don't tell me anything except you sure do know how to quote from the Bible. I want to know about your ideas. Ideas are the foundation for conversation and I can't keep having one-sided conversations. It gets boring. And whole passages of the Bible as a response to a question make me think that someone's not thinking as sharply as one might.

And besides, this isn't seminary debate team!!

When I used to teach I would say to students that if they had ideas about Shakespeare, they couldn't just say 'Hamlet is about incest' and then just pull a quote about Hamlet and Gertrude and stick it in the paper. They had to argue for it - build a thesis.

I already know what Jesus says. I want to know what you think.

16 comments:

jesus chick said...

i suppose the reason i think of scripture and/or reference it on specific occasion is because it falls in line with my opinions. . .or the other way around. uh oh.. . here it comes. . i'm thinking of a verse of scripture again. . . .

so. did you want my opinion on something? or was this a general request that *fundies* quit plagiarizing.

ding said...

this was directed in general to people who happen to stop by and do scriptural drive bys.

i'm not saying you can't use scripture but a whole block of it isn't an argument. that's all i'm sayin'. when all i hear is scripture i think about those deadly role plays i used to endure during youth group - you know those ones where you have to role play witnessing to a sinner?

jeebus. you'd have a person doing their best Sinner impression and the poor guy who had to witness to him just kept spouting scripture. it was unbearable and pointless.

Molly Malone said...

i love the Bible, and i use the teachings of Christ as my compass, and the words of the new testament are instructive, too. but, aside from when i'm in a genuinely contemplative conversation with someone - usually a close family member, or a fellow ponderous christian - when people have quoted scripture it has most often been AT me in a "guilting" fashion, not an invitation for us both to consider it's efficacy in our current lives.

ironically, perhaps, i've found that "guilting" or "shaming" fashion has been as true of fundamentalists to me, as it has been of agnotics to me. they've both used it against me as if to put me in a tiny box and insist i must believe their narrow definition of my personal faith.

in either case, it is, as you say, rhetorically lazy. i've really enjoyed discovering your blog!

ding said...

what interests me is a couple of things:
1-the use of a narrow personal definition of faith as a projection/proscription for all

2-the difference between at/with, as in having a discussion with someone rather than spouting scripture AT someone.

my dad reads this blog (hi, pops!) and he called me at work yesterday to tell me he had the exact same thing happen to him at one of his bible studies - an enthusiastic woman spouting scripture AT him, telling him why he should he harder on the 'gay issue' rather than answer his question why what other people do in their bedrooms matters to her. she got huffy.

there's immense opportunity for dialogue between people of all different faiths. it's sad that we're not taking it.

kim said...

I have conversations with people like this all the time - they throw out a verse of scripture as if it should end all discussion rather than be the beginning of discussion. Scriptural drive-bys are based on the assumptions that the Bible is self-evident, that there aren't multiple interpretations for a passage, that one passage can speak for or trump many other Biblical passages. Constructing an argument based on scripture is much more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Kim- there are not multiple interpretations of scripture,not if your reading the Holy Bible. The problem with most people, they aren't studying the word. Most people need to ask themselves, "what IS God saying?" He's saying something, and its not base on anyone's opinion or interpertation. There is a proper way to study the word of God. Prerequisite-The Holy Spirit.

Ding- scriptural drive bys are because the reader is saying, hmmm, let see here, what's wrong with this christian's point of view. Your arguments are reading sooo not like a christian. Does gay have rights? Why of course they do, they are created in the image of God. Do people who confess to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior have a right to Pro Choice? feminism?..... An oxymoron, Oh,really?
Prove pro choice, bibically.


-A Sinner

ding said...

anon,

do i have to use the bible to 'prove' that democracy is a good thing? do i have to use the bible to 'prove' i should pay my taxes? do i have to use the bible to 'prove' it's ok to vote democrat?

no. the bible also doesn't mention anything about voting rights for women, desegregation, labor unions, women getting an education or living in apartments by themselves. so asking me to 'prove' a pro-choice position is pointless.

so. why don't you 'prove' to me that gays should be denied equal protection under the law; 'prove' to me that we have a right to impose our religious law on others.

really. do that.

ding said...

aagh- i can't emphasize enough that we are not living in a society where religious and civil law are the same thing!

why is that so hard to distinguish?
civil law.
religious law.

secular authority.
religious authority.

perhaps i don't sound like any christian you know because i recognize the difference between the two!

jesus chick said...

do you remember me saying something about theres my christian life and my political life. my christian life and my social activist life. the two have to pair up at some point. perhaps putting it this way: you are a bible/scripture believing christian and everything else (political, social activism) lines up with those beliefs. i think *anon* doesn't grasp how you believe scripture and yet embrace the gay lifestyle (rights, etc.) and of course there's the whole abortion *terror* thing going on in south dakota. it's a terror that a woman can't decide if she wants to kill her own baby? there are some discrepancies and it's confusing for some (aka me). civic or not.

ding said...

aack!
you mean to do this, don't you, jc? you deliberately misunderstand me!

it's a *terror* that people who AREN'T THAT WOMAN feel they can tell her how to make her own decisions about her own body, based on THEIR OWN religious beliefs.

it's like our invasion of iraq - we had no business there and look at them now - wrecked. religious fundamentalists have NO BUSINESS inserting themselves into the terrain of a woman's private decisions. it's for her - her family, her partner/spouse, her doctor.

(and not everyone believes a fetus is a baby. it's a fetus. it's a baby when it draws breath.)

ding said...

in other words:

it is not unbiblical for christians to believe and actively advocate for a social agenda that protects everyone's basic civil rights.

it is not unbiblical for a christian to believe that all women - not just christian women - have moral agency; it is not unbiblical for me to call myself a feminist or a progressive.

if someone thinks it is, it's clear they have no idea what those ideological positions really mean.

and what i'm noticing is that some people here are confusing advocacy for practising. in other words, y'all think i advocate for reproductive freedom because i routinely have abortions.

wrong, wrong, wrong. i advocate for things like reproductive freedom and gay rights because i believe in things like PRIVACY.

but, i digress. this thread isn't about what i think. it's about why christian conservatives still haven't told us how they think it's ok to legally force christian doctrine on everyone without relying on the apostle paul all the time.

Anonymous said...

Whoa!

Church gal, whatever that means to you; perhaps religious? I hope this doesn't come off as being self-righteous, but you're so typical. Typical in the sense that you've probably have rejected most of your upbringing haven't you?

If I wrong about that, then you probably are justifying your own foolishness instead of bringing it under the subjection of Jesus Christ’s (authority). You know the lofty ideas we have that are really just that, lofty! In other words, you’re justifying your right to choose what you want to be able to do. It’s my business! What privacy, to not be accountable to anyone?
Sinners do what sinners do; Sin. I am a sinner, the only difference I have been change to think different now. I WANT to think different. My thoughts are foolish! Defend gay rights? No! Defend pro choice, No!
Jesus hung out with sinners, right? However what kind of sinners were they? Practicing choice types or, were they the type who knew they needed help? Big difference! Jesus came to saved those who needed help.

There are a lot of things not found in the bible. Like who should I married? What church should I attend and the list can go on.

Civil liberty- I believe in liberty oh, you betcha I do! Please by all means educate me on your liberty-

“it is not unbiblical for christians to believe and actively advocate for a social agenda that protects everyone's basic civil rights.

it is not unbiblical for a christian to believe that all women - not just christian women - have moral agency; it is not unbiblical for me to call myself a feminist or a progressive.

And this too churchgal –
(“and not everyone believes a fetus is a baby. it's a fetus. it's a baby when it draws breath.”)
Should gays be allowed to adopt? It’s a liberty right?


Let me say this, when I was a sinner, a practicing one. I despised people like you. You’re on the fence, going to church and thinking you advocating for my freedoms; thinking you doing me a favor. I was never and I mean never freed by your type! I was freed because someone loved me enough to tell me the truth about what Jesus said. They never allowed me to justified obvious wrongs. Oh, I tried to reason away there objections with my foolish reasoning, but something was saying they’re right and you know it! My freedoms and true acts of liberty would only be found in Christ’s true teachings. Not water down version of it. Legalism, heck no! My liberties were sending me to Hell. My stupid “rights” were foolish! My freedoms are now victories. How I look at you, get off the fence, you are not as freed up as you think you are. You are a fool churchgal! Admit it. Stand up forthe truth of what God says. He’s not saying anything new. Look at this world. We don’t need to progress as christians we need to take those stands that says enough!!! If someone’s offended by it,
The gospel is offensive!
The problem with this country- people can’t tell the difference between them and a christian!

Will the true christian please stand up!

A follower of Jesus Christ.

ding said...

you know, anonymous, you have no idea how right you are. i have rejected alot of things from my childhood - primarily how ignorant most people were in my church.

but i'd really like you to look at how many times to directed your response to Me rather than the issue at hand. i really can't care less about what you think about my sinfulness. it's none of your business and i'm only accountable to God for it.

you haven't answered the question: where do we get off legally forcing religious law on people?

i'm gonna keep asking this question (and ignoring your rather emotional rant) until you answer.

Anonymous said...

Churchgal, are there any absolutes in your life? Your blog is what I been talking about with other christians. If people are being slaughter for their beliefs, should I try to legislate change? Or is that a private matter, too

Can I tell a person not to get an abortion? Yes, I can, with love and what I know to be true about "life". Will it stop them? I don't know,I only hope that the person will see life as something much bigger then a fetus being remove. However,it's their choice. I'm not a radical. It's a way christians ought to conduct themselves in matters like abortion clinics and laws. Have you ever loved people who you know were going nowhere, I mean by their choices. Why do you have salvation anyway? Now, answer my all my questions.
Spare me the reply, I'm not saying, save the world.
You only advocate for the things that matter to you, don't you? So do I.


Churchgal, what is the real issue here, you or the laws of the land?

Oh and, if you weren't a christian being read my many. You think I will bother with your blog? Let me finish eating my sushi. Yum!

ding said...

enjoy your sushi.
(shrug)

it's pointless communicating with you. i can't keep track of your arguments because they're not making much sense.

you keep wanting to make this about me and my personal positions and you're not gonna get it. you won't understand it unless everything i say lines up perfectly with some narrow definition of christian behavior.

so - pointless.

ciao.

Anonymous said...

The church gal thing is interesting. People in the church call themselves a lot of things; May that is why the world is so confuse about us. What should define any us in what God’s word say about us, none of us christian folks have obtain high status, but I pretty much know what the bible says on the issues you present. Do you want the scriptures?
"Bad Christian's" blog, and he is a son of a preacher man has progress too(Liberlism) What's wrong with you church kids; too much doctrine? Don’t forget you were privileged to be brought up in a Christian environment. Instead of being resentful and rebellious, perhaps you need to thank the people who brought you to church every Sunday morning to hear the word of God. You obviously believed something by hearing the Word.

The title of this post is Sola Scriptura, not advocating for social agendas. By the way, yes, I believe Christians can stand up for social injustices and still be call a Christian. However, we should know which ones to choose. You understand my points just as much I understand yours. You’re choosing to not answer my questions, because it reveals the truth about how you truly think about being a Christian with a pro choice and gay rights view. Like I said, I’m not on the fence, never was. I know about the other side, though. Obviously, this is new way of thinking for you.

And, sin is personal as one blogger wrote early to you. It is between you and God I don’t think I’m concern about “YOUR” personal sins. I am arguing against what you are writing about Christians views on using the word and your social agenda point of view. I as a fellow Christian and anyone who visits your blog are within our Christian community rights to call you out on issues that are contrary to the teaching of the word of God. If you don’t like what we say, delete it, you do have that right!


Jesus Chick said it very well:

” do you remember me saying something about theres my christian life and my political life. my christian life and my social activist life. the two have to pair up at some point. perhaps putting it this way: you are a bible/scripture believing christian and everything else (political, social activism) lines up with those beliefs”.

This is my point of view. It makes sense, you just don't agree. Okay.