Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.
Discussion: The Blue Parakeet by Scott McKnight
From Chapter 6, “From Paper to Person: How Do We Read God’s Words?
In this chapter McKnight strengthens his view that the Bible should be read as a story by noting that the when we read the Bible from an authoritative approach the relational aspect is neglected.
The relational approach distinguishes God from the Bible. God existed before the Bible existed; God exists independently of the Bible now. God is a person; the Bible is paper. God gave us this papered Bible to lead us to love his person. But the person and the paper are not the same.
The distinction between a person’s words and the person is an important one, but I am not sure we Christians have always made that distinction.
I am not going to go into all of the detail that he talks about in terms of a relational approach to reading the Bible, but I would like to end McKnight’s thoughts with this:
So, too, if we frame our relationship to the Bible in terms of authority, we will inevitably have authoritarian issues emerging as theology. Here is a conclusion that has taken me nearly thirty years to come to: without denying the legitimacy of the various terms in the authority approach, those who have a proper relationship to the Bible never need to speak of the Bible as their authority nor do they speak of their submission to the Bible. The are so in tune with God, so in love with him, that the word “authority” is swallowed up in loving God. Even more, the word “submission” is engulfed in the disposition of listening to God speak through the Bible and in the practice of doing what God calls us to do.
As I read this paragraph above I am drawn to think of Jane and how “pastors” such as Eric Davis have responded to the heartbreaking story of her rape experience and a Christian school’s response to her. While reading Davis’ responses, I gather that he reads the Bible with authority. He writes a lot about authority, such as the authority of pastors and elders over a church. Is anyone surprised to hear how Jane was treated by those in authority over her?
Sadly, these men and women who claimed authority over Jane neglected to see her in a relational manner. They focused on sin, rules and regulations, and tried to make it all go away. They neglected to see Jane as a wounded person. They neglected to see Jane’s strength as she gathered the courage to go to the police. They neglected to acknowledge the trauma that Jane had faced.
I believe that Jesus wept over Jane’s treatment by those who claimed spiritual authority over her. Anyone who claims to read the Bible should weep as well.
Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer – it does not rise from deceitful lips. May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.
Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin. As for the deeds of men – by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the ways of the violent. My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.
They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance. They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground. They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a great lion crouching in cover.
Rise up, O Lord, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword. O Lord, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life.
You sill the hunger of those you cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children. And I – in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
Proverbs 12: 2 – 3
A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but the Lord condemns a crafty man. A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted.
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 – Purple ribbons symbolize Domestic Violence Awareness month
8 thoughts on “SSB Sunday Gathering – October 1, 2017”
I too am grieved by the appalling response of church-folk toward our sister, Jane. I pray that she knows how many people can empathize with her and will support her in the midst of so many foolish Christian enablers.
On another note, as a survivor of verbal and emotional abuse, I still struggle with the term “domestic violence,” only because it generally implies physical violence, and usually between a husband and wife. The term seems to exempt non-physical forms of abuse. I recognize that some form of acknowledgement of the problem is better than none; I just wish there was a way to promote a more all-encompassing definition… How many of us have been undermined or ignored because our abusers didn’t use their fists?
Cindy – I understand what you’re saying. A lot of people in the abuse advocacy community are calling it intimate partner violence. However, even that name rules out when the abuse happens from a relative or roommate. I’m glad that community advocates are willing to work with anyone who experiences any type of abuse.
I’m actually trying to think of a different word that would encompass all types of abuse and in any type of relationship. That’s a difficult challenge. Maybe domestic abuse would be better. Domestic inferring the abuser is known by the victim and abuse to cover all areas of abuse.
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“A lot of people in the abuse advocacy community …”
Kathi – you really had me there for a minute. I thought who in their right mind would ever advocate people being abused! Good job I continued reading.
Looking at the McKnight quotes, whilst I would say I do believe in the authority of scripture, there are huge swathes of evangelicalism who have forgotten that ‘knowing’ God means to experience him. They are scared stiff of experience because it is outside of the bible.
The whole MacArthur camp is a classic example of this. I lurked for years at team pyro, and noticed for all their doctrinal discussions, too often about what is wrong with other people’s, with one exception only they never ever stopped and testified say to a wonderfully answered prayer, or someone in their church being dramatically changed or freed from something. Something God had done. It is as though God has become only a doctrine to be dissected rather than a person whom we can, albeit in a glass darkly, experience.
I love the Nicole’s song–I had not heard it. Great job in compiling this post Kathi!
Kathi – thank you for your kind response. I know there is no perfect solution to this abuse definition dilemma other than doing what we can to people to the truth, which can be such a strange, uphill battle.
With regard to the spiritual component of sharing or exposing the truth, too often the Christian community prefers to “assume the best” of offenders (such as Jane’s rapist), while neglecting the wounds of those they have harmed or grossly covering up the truth for the sake of protecting the image of the church in general. Yet, the Apostle Paul wrote, ” Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even EXPOSE them…” Ephesians 5:11
Surely Paul’s directive represents both relational and authoritative counsel.
You and the readers here might appreciate a piece I authored a while back entitled, “The See-No-Evil Disconnect: Abandoning Victims to Protect the Status Quo,” a piece I wrote after reading another exposé about abuse in the church.
I tend to think ‘abuse’ itself is as good a catchall as any. then you can split it out into violence, financial, verbal, etc. FWIW.
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Considering more women are affected by domestic violence than breast cancer, I would love to see more money and talking points go toward dv awareness. Not that I’m against money being raised for breast cancer research or talking about it, but the focus during October seems to be pink.
That being said, I would also like to see more awareness given toward the fact that men can be diagnosed with breast cancer and can experience dv too.