Friday, March 13, 2009

Pagan Christianity - Chapter 11


Barna and Viola know how to live dangerously. There are those (as I demonstrated with my review of chapter 10) who are willing to bend and flex on other ecclesiastical discussions, but "don't you dare mess with the bible."

I'm certain that the analysis offered in chapter 11 will draw the ire of many a critic, but the information presented is factual and objective.

Somehow the inspiration/canonization arguments throughout history shrouded the overall context of the early writer(s) and reader(s). So much so, that the institutional church has treated God's truth as a buffet table. "I'll take a little of 'women are not allowed to teach' and I'll pass on the 'slaves, obey your masters' because the last one is contextual."

The problem is not what the New Testament says. The problem is in how we approach it.

The approach most commonly used among contemporary Christians when studying the Bible is called "proof texting." The origin of proof goes back to the late 1590s. A group of men called Protestant scholastics took the teachings of the Reformers and systematized them according to the rules of Aristotelian logic.

The Protestant scholastics held that not only is the Scripture the Word of God, but every part of it is the Word of God in and of itself - irrespective of context. This set the stage for the idea that if we lift a verse out of the Bible, it is true in its own right and can be used to prove a doctrine or a practice.

How often I have heard "You will know them by their fruits", "You reap what you sew", "Wives, submit to your husbands", "Do not throw your pearls to pigs" - - - many more - spurted out without reference to the context in which these words were written. It's true that they can be used as self-righteous buck-shot.

Because of the proof-texting method, a vast wasteland of Christianity behaves as if the mere citation of some random, decontextualized verse of Scripture ends all discussion on virtually any subject.
I highly recommend you read this chapter (as well as the entire book) to learn about how the New Testament was ordered and about the emphasis on the narrative story approach - rather than passage memorization.

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