“The question is not who is right, but who is living rightly?” Rob Bell
I am a thoughtful evangelical. I affirm the traditional creeds of the Christian faith. I believe in the theological tenets of the faith but I have given up on judging others. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent a lot of my Christian life judging others by the standard of the church that I was attending at the time. Growing up I spent time in denominations that measured hems of girl’s dresses and lengths of boy’s hair. There were certain behavioral mandates that were absolutely mandatory (like no going to movies) and others that were not so strict (like smoking). By these sets of standards you knew who was “in” and who was “out.” If you weren’t careful, at any moment you could slip from being “in” to being “out.”
I have had a recent experience with a large number of people who profess the name of Christ who have spent a lot of energy telling me who was “in” and who was “out.” Don’t get me wrong, some of them had some valid concerns. They were worried with theological issues that certainly deserve attention, but instead of asking questions and entering dialogue, they chose to hold up their divining rod and measure people’s convictions based upon their own understanding of Scripture.
We do not interpret Scripture in a vacuum. I am very wary of people who say, “I just do what the Bible says.” They forget that their reading of the Bible is formed by ancient traditions and lenses that have been molded since the times of the Old Testament. No one comes to the Scripture without certain pre-conceived notions. Until the creation of the printing press, the Bible was ONLY read in the context of community, it was not a document for private devotion. The beauty of studying the Scriptures in the context of community is that others see the same text with different lenses, that forces you to challenge your assumptions and readings. Suddenly there is room for the Holy Spirit to work in and through the community to inform the text and transform our lives.
I can not measure up to the mark. Jesus warns us not to judge unless we are willing to stand up to similar scrutiny. That is why I choose to be:
Lost in Grace,
PS. Great quote sent to me by a friend:
"Bigotry originates in the elevation of any group--political, ethnic, religious--above God's universal grace which creates humanity in the divine image.” Bishop Kenneth L. Carder