Response to Piper: 20 Reasons ...

I respect John Piper for not taking low shots at fundamentalists.
However, I think that fundamentalism as a system of Christian thought deserves to be critiqued.

... If someone thinks you are a fundamentalist, it could be because your interpretation of scripture is "it's in the bible" - this is a view of scripture that really just wants to show the highest respect to God by attempting to not drag human understanding into their interpretation of the scriptures. But the problem, as I see it, is that a good number of people are treating the bible like a software liscence agreement. They are not reading it thoroughly; they are just scrolling to the bottom and clicking "I agree" (not my analogy). this creates all sorts of problems, some of which are becoming systemic, one example of which being the "creation science" movement.

The reason for this 'liscene agreement' reading of the bible, I believe, is that new generations have not been challenged to thoroughly search the scriptures and go deep. For example, a careful reading of Genesis reveals problems for 6-day creationists: God makes plants before making weather in genesis 1, which is contradicted in Genesis 2, or the fact that an evil snake is actively present and working in the garden of eden before sin supposedly entered the world. If we take the anti-evolution stance on the basis that no sin existed at all before Adam sinned, then we are left with few options based on what is actually in scripture. we would be forced to take Genesis 3 as a metaphore for something else, or re-think the nature of evil and our understanding of Genesis 1. I humbly chose option #2.

To go even deeper, Ancient Hebrew has no past tense - it only has perfect and imperfect forms. So the English "God created" might be better understood as the perfect form of "God creating" with a contextual past to that present creative act.

People need to be challenged to thoroughly read scripture, and not just accept whatever they read in a verse or chapter, nor just accept what people say about scripture. Jesus said that nothing could be erased from the Law because of the spirit of the law, not because of the actual words themselves. We can know this because Jesus said this in the context of essentially re-interpreting the law for the religious scholars. I'm not advocating a re-interpretation of scripture, but rather a Christocentric, community hermeneuitc. Study in community, and bring it all back to Jesus: Life, death, teachings, and ressurection. this doesn't mean everythign has to be agreeable; it means that Jesus needs to be our defacto baseline for interpreting everything in the Bible.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sin certainly existed before Adam sinned. John 8:44 (KJV)
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
If you want to clearly see what fundamentalists believe, I suggest you examine the study notes of the Dake Bible and see them firsthand.

http://www.dake.com/dake/bibles.html

Ryan said...

Thanks, I'll have a look. But I do want to point out that historical fundamentalism (with it's roots in the 1820s) is quite a bit different from modern fundamentalism.

If we are going to assert something like 'sola scriptura' for example, we must then be willing to take it one step further to 'sola chriso' because that's what scripture does - it points us to Jesus.

If we strictly adhere to sola scriptura, this tells us that scripture is the only rule for life and faith thus making scripture more important than Jesus himself. I think that on some level, we know that Jesus is more important than scripture. Jesus even tells us, through scripture, that he has ALL authority.

Using scripture as an infallible legal code of some sort, or as a moral book vastly misses the point of scripture itself (love god with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbour - showing mercy to even your enemies - as yourself).

A strict legal reading of scripture is precicely how the modern fundamentalist movement uses scripture. Verses of scripture become hard, flat doctrines despite the intent of the authors, and what the bible 'says' becomes more important than what the bible is trying to do. The words become more important than the narrative, and the grammatical structure more important than the context.

Granted many evangelical groups read the bible this way, and not all legal readings are as problematic as I am portraying.

For me the most important and foundational statements of faith are:

Jesus is the promised messiah. His ressurection proves this.
Jesus offers us life through forgiveness, starting now, which extends forever.
Jesus, in the gospels, shows us God the Father.
Jesus has the authority to tell us how to live our lives.

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