Tuesday, December 04, 2007

An Oddly Positioned Postscript

There are clues to theological views - and something else struck me in reading Kevin McCullough's criticism of Hillary Clinton I first wrote about here.

I want to bore in on the emphasized phrase in the next quote. This is not so much a criticism but an examination of a real difference in my understanding of God's action in my life and what this statement expresses to me.

And for Bible believing Christians being "guided every step of the way" is a pretty gigantic claim. After all I do not know a single fellow Christian who would claim to live their life in such away as to have reflected biblical guidance through every single step.
There are some nitpicks - consider them appetizers - before the main course.
  • Saying you have been "guided every step of the way" is not saying you have followed the guidance - only that it was available. I have been guided every step of the way - in my arrogance I have simply chosen to ignore the guidance and "do my own thang". This point will become part of the main point down the road

  • She has just said her "faith journey" is unfinished - did this apply to her life not having "reflected Biblical guidance through every single step"
Those are nitpicks really - back to this phrase:
"reflected biblical guidance through every single step"
Folks who have read me much know that I am not shy about the Word of God being
. . . inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work. (NET Bible)
I believe the Bible is inerrant in its original autographs. However, notice that Paul presents the Bible as a tool for the Christian. How is someone to know how to use the tool if they are not instructed? Who instructs us on how to use the tool? Our pastors? Or does the tool guide us on how to use the tool? I havely certainly learned to use a few tools just by picking them up and using them - but that isn't the guidance God gave us in scripture.

According to the Word of God, our guidance is not from the Word of God directly - it is from the Word of God (the incarnate Christ and Scripture) as we discern it by the Spirit of God:
God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God [that is the Bible BTW], for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ. (NET Bible)
Kevin McCullough left out the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Now, he cannot be expected to have a complete theological dissertation in a post on Hillary Clinton - but certainly Hillary (if she is a Christian) had the guidance of the Holy Spirit "every step of the way" as we all do. And just like current vehicle navigation systems, He can tell you to turn right at the next corner all He wants - but you can choose to go straight, left, drive into a ditch, or turn around and/or go backwards. You can even just stop the car and go nowhere. Guidance does not equal obedience.

The deeper problem, as pointed out by Carl Palmer (as reported by me) in "How to Hear God Speak" is:
Along with the focus on the Bible was the loud and clear message that while God speaks through the Bible He now speaks ONLY through the Bible. Another weakness was what he would now call a minimizing of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They never learned about the Holy Spirit - they never talked about Him. Very seldom did they say that the Holy Spirit is the one that inspired the Bible or that it was the Holy Spirit that enables you to understand the Bible. So it was stressed that he must be very careful not to add any other "experiences" to the word of God . . . he went astray because he didn't know how to live as a Christian. The church taught him how to come to Christ; but he wasn't taught, or didn't respond to, how to follow Jesus. Following Jesus day-to-day is all about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
What happened to Carl is that as he elevated scripture from primary to only way God would speak to him, he didn't expect God to speak any other way. That inevitably led to a life centered on a book rather than a life centered on a Person. God wants us to have a life centered on a Person, and not a Book . . . The Bible is the primary revelation of God's will for us. The Book is designed to help us love God with all of our hearts, all of our souls, all of our mind, and all of our strength - and not be the object of that love (as much as we do love the Bible). . . Another thing that happened was that he was inevitably led to focusing his life around a set of doctrine - a set of rules. Carl tended to a life of legalism because it was all about what was written . . . and he was never taught how to live in Christ in his weakness
Of course, Kevin's lack of grace toward Hillary Clinton is, to me, all about his unwillingness to admit that Hillary, like me, lives in Christ in weakness. That is what Kevin does as well; and certainly I pray Kevin knows that about himself.

Christ was also the Word of God made incarnate. Jesus also made it clear to Peter that only through God, and His Spirit, could Peter have discerned that Jesus was the Christ. Again, the Word of God is spirtually discerned. Christ also made it clear that the Spirit is what leads us to truth and that the disciples should be rejoicing at His leaving because then the Helper could come to them and lead them to all knowledge.

However, here again is one of those significant divisions in Christianity as described by Carl Palmer:
The church Carl grew up in would have said: "Yeah, but that was a special time - that was then and this is now". This was taught because they believed that the Bible was finished. God's purpose was to get all of His will down in scripture, Old and New, and now He does not need to speak that way anymore. So, what you do is focus on the Bible.
Now, before I lose my creditials to the Sola Scriptura Society - Carl again:
You must test every message - by the written Scripture. God never ever says anything to us personally that is in conflict with the written word of God. That is why the Bible is there - as a record to test what we hear from God against. God does not do things that conflict with Himself. Scripture is our greatest defense against deception as we listen for God's voice in our lives

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly