Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.
Sunday mornings are changing a bit at the Gathering. I thought it might be nice to go through a book and see how our discussion goes. I’ll continue to add a verse and music.
Let’s start off with The Blue Parakeet by Scott McKnight. This is one of my favorite books on how to read the Bible and the silencing of women in the church. Let me know what you think of this change.
From Chapter 1, “The Book and I”
Throughout this process of conversion and reading the Bible, I made discoveries that created a question that disturbed me and still does. Many of my fine Christian friends, pastors, and teachers routinely made the claim that they were Bible-believing Christians, and they were committed to the whole Bible and that – and this was one of the favorite lines – ‘God said it, I believe it, that settles it for me!’ They were saying two things and I add my response (which expresses my disturbance):
One: We believe everything the Bible says, therefore…
Two: We practice whatever the Bible says.
Why say “hogwash,” a tasty salty word I learned from my father? Because I was reading the same Bible they were reading, and I observed that, in fact – emphasize that word “fact” – whatever they were claiming was not in “fact” what they were doing. (Nor was I.) What I discovered is that we all pick and choose. I must confess this discovery did not discourage me as much as it disturbed me, and then it made me intensely curious (and it is why I wrote this book). The discoveries and disturbances converged onto one big question:
How, then, are we to live out the Bible today?
This question never has been and never will be adequately answered with: The Bible says it, and that settles it for me. Why? Because no one does everything the Bible says. Perhaps you expected this question: How, then, are we to apply the Bible today? That’s a good question, but I think the word ‘apply’ is a bit clinical and not as dynamic as the phrase “live it.”
Have you encountered the mindset, “God says it, I believe it?” If so, how did you respond?
Have you seen any changes in your thought process of the Bible and God over your life? Where are you now?
Do you still find yourself trapped in toxic thoughts of “how God wants us to live” or have you found freedom from man-made rules?
What advice would you offer someone who struggles to break free from toxic ideology and is trying to find freedom in Christ?
Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me,or they will tear me apart like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands – if I have repaid my ally with evil or without cause have robbed my foe – then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust.
Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. Let the assembled peoples gather around you, while you sit enthroned over them on high.
Let the Lord judge the peoples. Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness,
according to my integrity, O Most High. Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure – you, the one who probes minds and hearts.
My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day. If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows. Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment. Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads.
I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
Proverbs 11: 7
For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;
may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.
Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?
Photo credit: Kathi – Cape Kiwanda, Oregon Coast
24 thoughts on “Trying Something New for SSB Gathering – July 23, 2017”
Just wanted to thank you for all the work you do on these gatherings. Great idea to do a book discussion. Sounds very interesting. Looking forward to hearing more.
Here’s a thought to start the discussion:
The book says “We all pick and choose” (what we believe from the Bible)
Here’s my question—what about the words of Christ? Isn’t the real secret to understanding the whole Bible—focusing on Christ? Studying everything He did and said.
Do we pick and choose which words of Christ to follow? The book says “no one does everything the Bible says.”
Does that mean that no one does everything that Christ says?
Jesus said, “Heaven and Earth will pass away but My words will NEVER pass away.” Matthew 24:35(HSCB)
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” James 1:22 (NLT)
Have a great weekend, everyone!
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Amen Avid Reader. You simply and so eloquently stated what I believe to be true since my conversion into Christianity, coming out of abusive churchianity.
John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
John 15:26 ” But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. ”
John 15:27 “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
The Holy Spirit always testifies of Jesus and His Teachings, anything apart from Christ is man’s vain philosophies and traditions that kill our freedom, true freedom that we have through Christ alone for our faith.
All too often we hear Scriptures quoted without pointing them back to Jesus Christ and His context of the meaning, thus many have adopted a form of Christianity without Jesus as the true Redeemer of all of mankind.
Kathi, I love the Psalm you quoted here. Our LORD is so great.
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Interesting. I think it really depends on what kind of person they are.
Some people simply are not going to want to hear that the bible says lots of things, this is cultural, etc.
Some people will not accept anything deemed ‘liberal’ and if you start from that basis they won’t hear you.
What I always wondered about is people’s focus, or what they considered to be ‘important’ and what they never cared about, so I would probably start there.
The other thing bothers me a lot of times is the attitude coming from people. So, say your pastor really does believe that divorce is not an option, but that you are in danger, hurting as a result of your husbands abuse/adultery/etc. What is his attitude in talking to you about it?
For me, I would say this sort of heartless attitude I see on this topic coming from pastors makes me doubt that their theology is right to begin with!
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“Have you seen any changes in your thought process of the Bible and God over your life? Where are you now?”
In my journey out of fundagelicalism I’ve come to believe that the Bible really ‘teaches’ only two things:
1) Be a Mensch (Yiddish for good person) to the best of your ability.
2) Don’t do the kinds of things to others you wouldn’t want done to yourself.
The rest is just commentary.
Every page of the Bible is an arrow pointing us to Christ. Helping us realize that we’ll never be good enough at keeping the law—thus we rest on the atonement of Christ.
Then we follow the footsteps of Christ by following His words. Jesus said: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15 (NASB)
Have you encountered the mindset, “God says it, I believe it?” If so, how did you respond?
I find this mindset to be one that is not interested in any kind of discussion; they want to shut conversation down before it even begins. They’re not interested in learning or understanding, just being Bible-quoting automatons. When I think about it, there are quite a few things that the Bible says that we would never do today. Need I point to all the Old Testament laws and rituals? There are quite a few things that the Bible doesn’t even address. Need I point to the various discoveries made in the medical and scientific communities? Remember, there was a time when Christians thought that the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun revolved around the earth. The Bible has a purpose – one is to point us to our Creator – but the Bible is not an all encompassing book. It doesn’t address every single issue in life. It is written for a specific purpose and teaches us how to love the Lord and love others. When we make the Bible into something that it isn’t, we become like careless wrecking balls in the lives of those around us.
Just for the record—the Bible actually described the Earth as being circular.
“God sits above the circle of the earth.”
Isaiah 40:22 (NLT)
Yet as Darlene mentioned—too many church leaders were making up their own weird science.
I saw a great representation of what people used to think this dome thing looked like. I wish I had a link handy…
Would love to see that if you can find it. Hmmm…..wonder what it was like when most people believed the Earth was flat and sitting on a bunch of turtles! 🙂
God “hangs the Earth on nothing.” (Job 26:7)
Kathi and I are on our way home from a conference in Orlando!
Let us know how the conference went. What was the subject of discussion?
The Bible is not meant to be a science or medical instruction manual. For example, the advancements that have been made in the medical field have nothing to do with the Bible. Prior to the 20th Century, people were ignorant about the origin of sepsis and its connection to unclean health practices, such as washing one’s hands prior to working with food. People who want to connect intelligence and understanding of our universe to the Bible have little grasp of history. Bible reading did not give scientists the ability to understand space, make telescopes to study planets, and to land on the moon. My point: the Bible was never meant to be a science or instruction manual. So let’s not try to make it one.
I meant to say: The Bible was never meant to be a science manual or medical instruction book.
I said what I did above because I’ve known Christians who think the Bible is an excellent source in learning about science and health. In fact, they think the Bible is the only book they’ll ever need in life. I’ve known Christians who think we should eat as the Jews did, because that must be the healthiest diet ever. Why? Because it’s in the Bible. Their mindset: Just follow the Bible and you don’t need doctors. Just follow the Bible and you don’t need to see a Licensed Therapist for counseling. Just follow the Bible and you don’t need an education. Just follow the Bible and you don’t need……fill-in-the-blank. Very harmful thinking!
Julie Anne and Kathi,
Really looking forward to hearing about that conference. Would LOVE a blog post if you have time. So far what you shared on twitter about it looks really exciting!!!
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I agree with you that we need to learn from science and medicine. I’m all for doctors and real licensed counselors and getting as much education as you can—hence my obsessive reading addiction. 🙂
What I was just trying to say is that God put certain things in the Bible so that we would recognize that it’s not just another book. That it really came from the heart of God. For example, as we were discussing earlier, the Bible describes the Earth as round and sitting in space long in a time when people thought it was flat and resting on top of some giant object. The Bible also revealed the concept of fingerprints long before our modern science caught up to that. (Job 37:7)
The problem is with the crazy doctrines that people make up about the Bible. As you eloquently described, people who think that the Bible says you don’t need an education—that’s just someone’s misguided personal opinion. The Bible actually encourages us to seek an education. To seek professional help when we need it. There’s just too many personal opinions being mistaken for actual Scriptures.
It was Christians for Biblical Equality. I’ll see if I can post something about it. I have to wait for my daughter to fly in and then have a 4-hr drive home.
Yes, I really want to. I need to catch up with my schoolwork, too, but I think it would be good to put up a post- especially since I came from the complementarian camp.
Hi everyone! Thanks for all the great thoughts on here. My hope is to bring more discussion on Sunday mornings and I think Scott McKnight’s book will resonate with a lot of people.
The CBE conference was really good. For me, it was all about connecting with people, adding tools to my advocacy bag, and gaining new information about addressing complementarian ideology. There are fantastic scholars out there addressing mutuality as well as pastors and advocates working at the church level.
We also met met some fantastic people outside of the conference, including two families on vacation from Scotland, a worker at the hotel who is tall enough to see eye-to-eye with Julie Anne, and I was able to meet a friend that I’ve only known online for the first time in real life. The only think I am happy to not bring back home is the humidity! 🙂
It’s brutal this time of year! I was in florida a couple weeks ago but I live in the south year round).
I’m glad you guys enjoyed! I think I’ve said this before, but it’s so nice to go to a church that is fully open to women, and has them at all levels. There is a peace about it, and yes good scholarship to back it up. So much easier than trying to explain how we can do comp and not oppress women (as I heard a i’m sure well meaning preacher say the other day).
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“I find this mindset to be one that is not interested in any kind of discussion; they want to shut conversation down before it even begins. They’re not interested in learning or understanding, just being Bible-quoting automatons.”
Great Comment! Sounds like what I went through all those years ago when I was in the Calvary Chapel cult.
Don’t get me wrong, the Bible is a great and wonderful thing, and as far as holy books go, it has no equal. But I also think it’s prone to two ills; not giving it the credence it deserves on one extreme, and making way too much of it at the other.
Even though I grew up in a church where all the theology had been settled for centuries, I always felt (semper reformanda) what was taught was that it was always okay to wrestle through issues and ask questions. I was surprised how many people in my ultra-intellectual church simply wanted to be fed the punchline and not wrestle through the why’s. Even more so, I started recognizing pastors and leaders who either blindly accepted the company line, or who held a different view they were unwilling to defend from scripture.
My approach is this. The Bible is true, but we are flawed. We have cultural baggage and fallen logic that we try to apply to the Bible. There are important things that are really clear in scripture, and there are less important things that are not so clear in scripture. Although the non-important things still have a truth, we should graciously recognize that we can miss that truth just as the next person.
Ultimately, though, what’s been said here – we trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into the right truth, not so that we check all the right theological boxes, but that when people see us in our everyday lives interacting with others, they can see a grace and warmth that doesn’t come from merely stapling smiles on our faces.
Those questions are really good and I kind jumped in without answering them.
1) I hear it and it is typically a conversation ender by someone who doesn’t want to reevaluate their position. As an INTJ, reevaluating is expensive because the position must include the consequences of the position, but my tendency is to simply ignore or ask how they deal with a certain Bible verse rather than claim that kind of authority.
2) Yes, yes! My thought process used to be very black and white and very idealistic. I thought that human experience not a source for truth, but when people applied Biblical principles (as my church interpreted them) to their lives, they would be successful and happy, even if they seemed completely counterintuitive. Thankfully, blogs didn’t really exist when I was the know-it-all 18 year old, so I mostly damaged charismatics at my college. Now I recognize that there is a relationship between the truth and the implementation of that truth. So, the theology can be judged by experience of those holding it almost as much as from first principles. That is the experiences of those with a particular view of “submit to your husband” can lend light on whether that particular view is the correct view despite those who hold it based on their Biblical theology.
3) Emotions rather than thoughts, I would say. I grew up with a lot of intellectual freedom within a system of stifling emotional abuse. I can intellectually understand grace, but I’m still emotionally trapped in a system where I expect to get called out whenever I make a mistake. I can intellectually believe in a God who is loving and there, but I get caught in the rut of my self-protectionist coping methods of a father who was physically and emotionally neglectful.
4) Find a safe place to heal. I walked out angry and bitter and with a wall of self-confidence I used to protect myself. It wasn’t long in my new church before the pastor started talking about Ruth and Naomi. Not a sermon full of condemnation for anger and bitterness, but one that instead praised Naomi for not shutting God out in her anger and bitterness, but rather being REAL. It lifted a huge burden. I always thought that anger and bitterness didn’t belong in the throne room (the Reformed picture of prayer) and that we needed to somehow deal with anger and bitterness apart from God. Intellectually, it really clicked. Emotionally, I still feel like I have a long, long road to walk full of victories and defeats.
Mark – Thank you for your thoughtful answers. #4 sticks out to me – When we left church we were very angry. It took us a couple of years to really work through that. Now I find myself more annoyed than angry. 😉
As far as anger in prayer, the Psalms is full of the writer asking “why” and offering up thoughts of discouragement. I think a lot of people really connect with the Psalms because they offer up a lot of honesty directed toward God.