One thing that seems so hard for many fundamentalist Christians is the idea that much of their religious traditions and beliefs come from man, not God. They seem totally unable to even conceive of that idea. Without that acknowledgement they have doomed their version of Christianity to the trash heap of time. Science, that they generally deem as the enemy, will eventually become just be too convincing for them to deny.
Before I was excluded from a Lutheran church for my belief that the Bible is not totally literal or inerrant I had a lengthy discussion with a clergy leader there. He tried his best to convince me of the inerrancy of the Bible. When it became obvious that I was not going to discount scientific discovery as “God just trying to trick us”, he made the statement “What would happen to your faith if you found out that everything in the Bible is literally true and without the possibility of error?” He got a very different answer than what he was expecting.
When I responded to his question that I would be totally astounded by that fact but it would not change my beliefs in Jesus and that he is the foundation of my faith. I concentrate on his words and messages and not on what others said about him either during his life or especially many years after his death. But, I think my counter-question to him had a much deeper ramification. I asked him “What would it do to your faith if God told you that the Bible was written by men and was not totally from or even endorsed by Him?” I never got an answer to my question other than “that is quite impossible.”
Once we accept that man’s fingerprints are all over the Bible and other ancient religious texts the sooner we can get to the core of Christianity and that is the words, messages, and commands of Jesus. When he came to live with us on this earth it was not just to die for our sins, he could have done that in a day. Instead, he spent thirty-three years here to teach us how to live. When we no longer base our faith primarily on man-made belief that occurred after his death we get to the true meaning of being a follower of Jesus.
- No, I am not throwing out all the traditions and doctrine of the church. I certainly celebrate much of that history. But we must realize that man’s fingerprints are all over this traditions and doctrine.
- No, I am not opening it up to anyone that wants to believe whatever they want. Jesus made it clear that being a follower of his was more important that just saying certain words. He did not intend his church to be something-for-nothing; he intended it to be the guiding light of our lives.
- No, I am not saying that all the authors of belief system we currently have were not inspired by God but I am saying that every word they wrote came from their heartfelt thoughts but they were by no means dictated directly by God.
- No, I am not throwing the Bible out of the church. Instead I am giving it the rightful place and that is to teach us church history, give us examples of Godly living, and most importantly give us the words and messages of Jesus.
Change is difficult, especially within many very conservative church establishments. We need to accept that man’s fingerprints are all over our Bible and then move from there to a belief system more like the early Christians. That is what the current emergent church movement is all about…..