|The wondrous truth!|
Senior Pastor Jim Moats of the Christian Bible Fellowship Church in Pennsylvania recently admitted that he was not a SEAL soldier after many years of boasting his exploits to his congregation and to the media. In the aftermath of the death of Osama by the US Seal Team 4, the good Rev was interviewed by the local newspaper, his story published which was effectively refuted by many as fake and ultimately led to his retraction.
The Senior Pastor is what most would call a conservative fundamentalist. He graduated from the Bob Jones University, a very conservative seminary and has said in his web side that "He unashamedly preaches an "old fashioned message for a "new fashioned" people. His old fashion beliefs include being critical of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and against gays. It is the same shallow basis of him being an ex-SEAL. Simply quoting verses from various passages each with a different context and motivation in order to support a pre-conceived aggenda does not make it blibical.
"The bible says so" is often used to cover up a multitude of mistranslations from the original languages to English, and to under emphasise that the true meaning is dependend upon the history, culture, religious practices, and yearnings of the writer and the intended receipients. It was written not to us and we are the third party gazing into the narrative. Much of the bible is prophetic which requires faith to believe and wisdom to discern rather than a casual surface reading.
When we don't understand the bible, we interpret the bible at the surface and say "the bible says so" rather than seek the deeper truths within. The Jews so proud of the law and the scriptures, committed the biggest transgressions that one could ever do - they killed Jesus and tortured Him.
When we don't understand the bible, it is also easy to say that "the Bible is full of errors and not the truth". We call ourselves intellectual but Jesus' death and resurrection remained a stumbling block, and Athens the centre for higher criticism rejected the Gospel message even though unlike other cities, they gave it a good hearing.
In fact, few churches are really fundamentalist. The term was made known in the 1910 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church notion of the "five fundamentals":
The cry of the Reformation - Sola scriptura (latin for "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. This was in response to the Catholic church that was based of man made tradition/history, motivated by worldly organization structure, and have become the very rich and powerful rulling over two thirds of Europe. Being anti-gay had nothing do to with Christian Fundamentals and salvation by faith alone through grace in "Sola scriptura".
When the mega churches in Singapore in the Transformation 2009 conference was seeking to gain controlling influence over the seven mountains in Singapore, it was nothing new. In Europe, the church was the Prince of the nations, and even now the Catholic Church has one billion adherants. So the mega protestant church in Singapore is a small "red-dot".
Pastor Jim Moat's claim that he was ex-SEAL by using stories from movies, is how many mega churches and "conservative" church would interpret the bible on the GLBT issues. It goes far beyond fundamentalism and Sola scriptura which covers very exacting points:-
The meaning of "Fundamentalism" and "Sola Scirpture"had little to do with gays being deprived of their basic rights. Rather, it was motivated against the heresy of the Catholic Church concerning Jesus Christ and the persecution of Christians by the powerful and wealthy church who had become part of the World Systems and culture. How it has evolves to become "anti-gay" is a major failure of self reflection.
The Methodist Quadrilateral (Tradition/ Reasoning / Scripture / experience) is an attempt to bring balance. The opposite revelation may be more pertinent, for the Church tradition against minorities and the weak and the historical institutionalization of the church making it a powerful political weapon causing grave harm. Negative experiences of people groups discriminated by the church must not be forgotten. Reasoning can descend into endless debates when interpreting Scripture without appreciating the forces of Jewish history, location, culture, and ancient pagan religious practices.
A framework to interpret scripture maybe to recognise:-
a) Scriptural Truths are not a human idea but an unchanging reality
Scripture is not a matter of opinion or casual interpretation, for the inspired truth by the blibical writers are unchanging but hidden in the sands of time, culture and religious motivations, molded by the Jewish fears, faith and hope. Scripture is inter-woven by the tread to reveal the need for the Messiah, the nature of Jesus' death and resurrection, and His coming again. It is played out through God's engagement with the Jewish nation through whom all nations are blessed.
b) Scriptural truths are bounded by God's grace, mercy, and redemptive purpose
Scripture interpret scriptures. Blibical interpretation is to be consistent with the entire bible and mindful of the supremacy of Jesus Christ - His love, righteousness, grace, and mercy, and the underlying tread of justice, and redemption.
c) Scriptural truths are has a spiritual reality, and supernatural power.
Scripture is spiritual and best understood when we abide with the Holy Spirit. It is confirmed in signs and wonders, understood in supernatural tongues, prophesy, and word of knowledge.
d) Scriptural truths are explainable from religious context, and experiences
Scripture must be consistent with the general context of a Jewish nation barely retaining its unique identity and religion in a pagan religious environment of many gods with human religious sacrifices, sexual acts of worship, and manifestation of the spiritual and supernatural reality including offsprings between mankind and the gods.
What is the truth? is reflected in our Faith and Hope of eternal redemption grounded on the communion with the Holy Spirit connecting us with Jesus Christ allowing us to experience His boundless love and experience.
As the old hyms says,
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
But I know Whom I have believèd,
I know not how this saving faith
I know not how the Spirit moves,
I know not what of good or ill
I know not when my Lord may come,