Having conversations over diverging points of worldview is, at its’ center, a beautiful, redemptive exercise. It flexes us, challenges us, humbles us and sometimes, changes us profoundly. When all parties involved enter into dialogue with the superior desire to learn, to be gracious, to be willing to be wrong, glimmers of truth emerge in the back and forth.
Perhaps what is most frustrating is dialoguing with one who presumes that you are lost, misguided, blind and in a need of their arm to guide you off the highway to hell. Damaging to the dialogue is when one asserts that all authority and scripture and God herself are on their side because they are literate and spent five minutes reading a verse out loud and suddenly, being a Biblical scholar isn’t so difficult after all.
When someone validates injury because their words were on their heart, or truly intended out of love, and are not really their words, but God’s. God who loves you, but is, like, running out of patience with you.
Instead of writing about “Truth in Love” or what it means disagree over interpretations of scripture, today I would like to link you all to my favorite articles on the subject. If someone is silencing you by suggesting that since they can read the plain text of GOD and God will judge you and all of your studies of scripture are simply your attempts to make it fit how you want to fit, you might find these helpful.
Addie Zierman, “The Truth in Love”
“But to “speak the truth in love” is not a singular occurrence that can be qualified with a cliché. It is the work of a lifetime. To know Truth down in the deepest places of our hearts takes time. It is work to dig into our own humanity, one lousy spoonful at a time, until we create a channel through which kindness might flow.
In their purest form, truth and love are an inseparable part of one another. To be a Christian is to believe that Christ is Truth, that God is Love. To live that out should look counter-cultural. Truth in love should not leave others feeling bludgeoned and bloodied but rather held. Understood. Valued. Beloved.”
Addie Zierman, God-Breathed
So many times, I’ve heard this verse used to precede something unkind: the argument, the confrontation, the “truth in love.” Here is a scripture about morality or right-living, pulled straight from the God-breathed Bible, so you’d better listen, shape up.
It’s that old bumper sticker theology: God said it; I believe it; that settles it, and it’s God-breathed, God-breathed, God breathing down your neck until you want to run as fast as you can away.”
Fred Clark, Slacktivist, How frail a foundation, ye saint of the Lord
If Jesus is the basis for your faith — the object and the subject and the substance of your faith, then your “approach to authority” and “the way in which you read the Bible” can be completely disassembled without you having to “kick your entire faith out the door.”
In fact, if Jesus is the center of your faith, then you’re probably going to have to regularly and repeatedly “completely disassemble” your ideas about authority and the way in which you read the Bible. Your faith will require you to do that. Almost constantly.
Rachel Held Evans, “Everyone is a Biblical Literalist Until You Bring Up Gluttony”
“I too need reminding that, for all my big talk about a “Christocentric hermeneutic,” more often than not, I’m following a “Rachelcentric hermeneutic” when I read the Bible, complete with my own biases, preferences, insecurities, and opinions guiding how I “pick and choose.” (Oh I can wield every Bible verse that challenges Calvinism like a knife, but I’d rather not talk about how I’m actually applying the Sermon on the Mount to my life or what I really think about enemy-love.)
Should we stop discussing which biblical instructions apply today and how we ought to apply them? Certainly not. Should we remain silent when the vulnerable are oppressed and exploited or when injustice and immorality pervades our culture? No. Do we abandon our convictions about what the Bible says is sin? No, not even when we disagree on that. Are rhetorical questions overused in blog posts? Yes.
But it’s good to remind ourselves now and then that just as Southern slaveholders had a vested interest in interpreting Colossians 3:22 literally, so we tend to “pick and choose” to our own advantage.”
Steven Harrell, a conservative responding to a comment on Julie Rodger’s wonderful post “the story of gay.”
“Ole Tiger Larry-
I’m a very tolerant, usually relaxed, conservative Christian from the Bible Belt. But, I am deeply offended and upset that you told Kathy that God does not approve of her and that she must change her beliefs in order to become a true Christian.
You are a fallible, human person. You do not have the authority to tell Kathy, or anyone else, that God does not approve of them. You do not have the authority to tell Kathy what she can/cannot believe if she is “truly a Christian.” You do not have a monopoly on Truth. Scripture is complicated, God is multi-faceted. There are multiple ways of genuinely and faithfully interpreting all of the verses that you are throwing out, and just because Kathy doesn’t think about them the same way as you doesn’t mean that Kathy’s relationship with God is not valid. Homogeny is not holiness.
Your mean-spirited tone and unkind words are a blasphemy against a gracious God whom loves Kathy immensely, enough to work out a supernatural plan of redemption for her.”
“Do you remember the other big moment when we read about something being “God-breathed” in scripture? Sure you do. We find it in the very beginning, in Genesis chapter 2 verse 7 when God took the dust of the ground and breathed life into it to create humanity.
In that moment God breathed something into existence…..which wasn’t perfect. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t God.
(And before you try arguing we were perfect before the Fall, first ask yourself why the forbidden fruit would have been a temptation if we were already perfect. Remember, God called us “good” not perfect.)
Because scripture is also “God-breathed” it means it too isn’t God. Nor does it even come directly from God, but instead it passes through an intermediary. In the beginning, the intermediary between us and God was dirt. God breathed into it and the result was that we were created.
In the case of the Bible, God breathed His truth into the hearts and minds of people and the result was that the Bible was created. But like that ancient dirt that gave birth to us, the people who wrote the Bible, God’s intermediaries, weren’t perfect. Which is why Paul says “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
Micah J. Murray, Beware of thinking Biblically
“He is “the Word made flesh“. Jesus IS the Scripture – alive with blood and skin and breath and tears. And when we see him for the first time, we realize that we’ve been reading the Holy Words wrong all along. We MUST allow all of our reading of the Bible to begin and end with the words and life of Jesus. Otherwise we will most certainly get it wrong and miss the point completely.
The Bible is God’s word to us; it is true and trustworthy and beautiful and full of life. The Bible is never, ever wrong. But all too often, we are very, very wrong about it. We must never underestimate our own ability to think Biblically to terrible conclusions.
So do we give up on “thinking Biblically” altogether? Certainly not. But we must approach our own conversations with the constant awareness that we might be wrong. That we don’t have all the answers. That someday, five hundred or a hundred or thirty years from now our brothers and sisters may look back and wonder how we could have missed the point. We must be open minded, willing to read its pages over and over again and change our minds as our hearts are opened to the truth.”
So these are just a few things that I have clung to today as I long for the time when myself and others can sit around a table and fully affirm one another without declaring one’s faith invalid. The day we praise each other for being critical thinkers with genuine and sincere hearts.
If you have other links regarding “Truth in Love” or Biblical Literalism, Fundamentalism or Inerrancy, I would encourage you to post them below. I’ll then add them to this post.
Justin Hanvey: How Do they know we are Christians? Not by Our Love:
“They know it by our willingness to jump through hermeneutical hoops to say tattoos are not a sin, or that sometimes divorce is okay, or that gluttony really isn’t all that bad, but if you’re a homosexual there’s absolutely no way to read the Bible as anything other than condemnation of it.
They know it by the fact of our concern when we find out they don’t go to church, and the fact of our concern when we find a fellow christian hanging out with nonchristians at the bar.”
Holli Carey Long, Thump.
“And, I have also read these.”
You shall not take vengeance nor bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. –Leviticus 19:18
When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. –1 Samuel 18:1
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. -2 Samuel 1:26-27
Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything. –Ecclesiastes 11:5
He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” –Matthew 22:37-39 (Also Mark 12:30-31 and Luke 10:27-28)