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Switch to Forum Live View How do progressives relate to the Old Testament?
5 years ago  ::  Nov 23, 2009 - 9:07PM #1
Phantasm
Posts: 767

This is a topic that I've been struggling with.  I've been looking to get more involved in the Bible.  But an early problem I'm having to deal with is how to deal w/ the Jewish scriptures, specifically the Law of Moses.  How do the people on this board relate to the first 5 books of our Old Testament?


This is an issue that's been weighing on my heart for some time.  I find that traditional Christianity more or less avoids these scriptures, except for when a few hot-button issues like abortion and homosexuality rear their heads, and here I am trying to engage the whole of these scriptures.  I've been working on forming an intelligent response on my own, but I also recognize I need to hear the opinions of others.


 


Any imput would be appreciated.

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 24, 2009 - 2:40PM #2
Stardove
Posts: 15,136

Nov 23, 2009 -- 9:07PM, Phantasm wrote:


This is a topic that I've been struggling with.  I've been looking to get more involved in the Bible.  But an early problem I'm having to deal with is how to deal w/ the Jewish scriptures, specifically the Law of Moses.  How do the people on this board relate to the first 5 books of our Old Testament?


This is an issue that's been weighing on my heart for some time.  I find that traditional Christianity more or less avoids these scriptures, except for when a few hot-button issues like abortion and homosexuality rear their heads, and here I am trying to engage the whole of these scriptures.  I've been working on forming an intelligent response on my own, but I also recognize I need to hear the opinions of others.


 


Any imput would be appreciated.



I find that I believe many of the stories told in the Old Testament are allegories.  Maybe some events did happen, but certainly not all. 


A talking snake?  I don't think so.  It's interesting a woman is unclean for 14 days after her cycle begins.  At the exact time to make a baby she becomes clean.  Right.  Those that grab certain scriptures skip the don't trim the beards part.  Some skip no tattoos. 


Job has the very first mention of Satan (the word) I wonder who was in heaven taking notes of the meeting between God and the angels.


One thing I noticed reading the entire Bible like a book from first to last chapter is all the animals who were killed in the OT.  I discovered many things no preacher ever spoke about either.


The best sermons are not preached, but lived.

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 24, 2009 - 8:27PM #3
grampawombat
Posts: 269

Progressives are all over the map on almost every topic. If there is anything approaching a common progressive response to the Bible, I think it would be that it is taken seriously but definitely not literally, and that it is one of many documents that have had a profound effect on the world.


For me, one aspect of progressive thinking relates to scholarship. As I understand that perspective related to the Hebrew Scriptures, they are a collection of works written by many authors, some from oral traditions, brought together beginning in about the 5th century BCE, that serve as an important part of the basis for the Jewish religion. The Torah was probably the result of inputs from four groups: Jahwists, Elohists, a Priestly group, and a later group called Deuteronomists. These inputs were then worked on by an redactor (editor) to form a single document. Some of the stories are very old, but the editing and combining probably did not occur until after the Babylonian exile.

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 24, 2009 - 10:08PM #4
Phantasm
Posts: 767

Thanks, guys.  I appreciate the imput.  I figgure there will be a diversity of opinion, which I'm counting on here.  I hope this topic will catch the eye of other people around here!


 


Anybody else care to give their opinions?

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 29, 2009 - 3:49PM #5
Billmc
Posts: 37

Sure, I'll join in. As Grampa said, PC does not have an official doctrinal list or enforced consensus on beliefs. We are still somewhat proud in holding to "the priesthood of the believer." Smile


What I would like to add is from my own journey:
1. I was raised fundamentalist with a strong bent on Dispensationalism. So, for the most part, my religious training taught me that the OT was fairly unimportant, that the NT was all one needed to know in order to "get saved" and live a "Christian life."
2. But I discovered that Jesus and the early church were, low and behold, VERY Jewish and that is was almost impossible to understand the meaning of what they were saying without the context of the OT. So the OT, for me, gives me good insight into historical-critical understanding of the teachings of Jesus and the early church.
3. At the same time, I know that I am not a Jew and that the Law of Moses is not binding on me in a literal sense. But I do willing place myself under "the law of Christ" which means that my worldview rests on Jesus' Two Great Commandments and the Golden Rule.
4. So all of this leads me to endeavor to practice the best of Jesus' teachings, while, at the same time, appreciating the OT and the apostle's writings as context for what Jesus taught and how he lived.


In my own struggles with the scriptures, I find it interesting that Jesus said it is the holy Spirit (not the Bible) that would lead us into all truth. It is said that the Reformation kicked the Pope off the seat of authority and put the Bible there. But I wonder what would happen if we simply allowed the Spirit to lead us?

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 29, 2009 - 5:05PM #6
Phantasm
Posts: 767

I was raised in Lutheranism since I was born, me and my two siblings who are older than me.  And Lutheranism is going through a crisis right now about admitting gays and lesbians into the clergy.  This crisis is a big deal in my family, specifically between me and my Mom.  So this is where I am currently coming from.


My mother and me are totally diametrically opposed in terms of religion.  I've been flirting w/ Progressive Christianity fairly recently, but the sentiments that attract me to it I've more or less held since I've been a teenager.  My Mom, on the other hand, is more or less a Fundamental.  Every time I try to tell her there is more than one way to read the Bible she pushes back equally strong if not stronger that the Church has been becoming more and more "liberal" as the decades pass (that 'liberal' is a byword for her has become a pretty recent development, as far as I can tell).  Whenever she brings up a religious topic in the car, say to or from church, it becomes a big deal for her that "the chuch needs to get back to the Bible."  And every time I try to tell her that there is more than one way to read the Bible besides litterally, we just totally butt heads.  Sparks fly.  Arguments break out.  We have argued in the car before and it ain't pretty.  So in the past several weeks I just have not brought up the topic of religion when we're together.


This gay clergy issue is going to make or break my church.


The camp totally opposed to the idea, which my mother is a part of to some extent, is withholding funds from the Lutheran church (specifically the ELCA, the branch of Lutheranism that our church belongs to).  This is happening in middle of the economic crunch.  The head pastor just today came forward to say a larger number of pledges have not been met than usual compared to previous years.  They may either have to make all church employees take a 3% pay cut or eliminate the associate pastor position.  This is horrific given the times we're living in.  And the anti-gay-clergy crowd may very well be *partially* responsible.  The opposition camp thinks the "only way" for their voices to be heard is to withhold funds!  There is a breathtaking lack of imagination coming out of these people.  That they don't know what else to do betrays the intellectual weakness of their argument, which basically consists of "quoting the Bible" and nothing else.


To put a long story short, interpetation of Scripture is clashing with my church's fiscal policy.  At issue is especially how we're to relate to the Jewish Scriptures.  The anti-gay-clergy crowd continually runs to the injunctions against homosexuality in the Mosaic Law.  So how do people like us talk to people like my Mom?  How do we get them to at least consider other positions rationally?  Or have we forever locked our horns with them in battle until the older people in the church die?  I sure hope not.  I want a peaceful solution to this proto-civil war in my denomination.  This issue is our Gettysburg, to continue with the civil war analogy.  If this becomes an all-out ideological war in the church, it could fracture the ELCA into hundreds of small camps screaming at and excommunicating each other.


So I ask, how can my church make peace with the anti-gay-clergy camp without totally capitulating to their side?


This post is not a digression.  It is directly related to my opening post.  I would appreciate any advice you guys could give me.

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 29, 2009 - 6:50PM #7
Billmc
Posts: 37

I'd be the last one to tell you what a denomination should do, as my experiences with denominations tell me that they are deathly slow to change. They do change, but it usually takes generations, often waiting for the "hard line" to, unfortunately, die off.


But as far as personal interactions go, I'd ask the "back to the Bible" crowd if they consider Jesus' teachings on things to be the most "authoritative". You can even cite the end of Matthew 28 if necessary to gentle urge them to see that Jesus claimed all authority in heaven and on earth and that he said his teachings should be taught to people everywhere. Jesus didn't say to go teach the OT nor to wait for the apostle Paul. He told his disciples to teach what he had taught them.


If you can get them to agree with this notion, that Jesus and his views/teachings are what Christianity and Christians should primarily rely on, then you can gently ask them what Jesus had to say about homosexuality. The answer: nothing. Jesus had absolutely nothing to say on the subject and it was not because there were simply no homosexuals in the first century. We can reasonably ask that if the subject was not important enough for Jesus to teach against it, then why is it important or divisive for Christians?


This "argument" should cause any thinking Christian to at least wonder WHY they hold to the view that they do. If they quote the OT or Paul, then again, it comes down to whether Christians primarily follow the OT or the apostle Paul or Jesus Christ. If they insist that all scripture is equal, it opens up another whole area of discussion for considering whether OT laws about God commanding animal sacrificing or killing of enemies to still be binding on his people, or if Paul's instructions on women not wearing jewelry and keeping their heads covered should be followed.


Truth be told, those that hold to "all scripture is authoritative..." are just as much cherry-pickers as anyone else. They just cherry-pick the scriptures that support their own biases and ignor the others.


But, again, this needs to be approached non-confrontationally, with love and understanding. I generally say something like, "Well, with everything the Bible says about things, I had to ask myself which teachings and passages were really meant for me, for my life. And I came to the conclusion, being a Christian, that what Christ had to say was the most important. So I then had to ask what Jesus said about...(fill in the blank)...and my study of the scriptures showed me..."


This approach will almost never make someone "convert". But it should start them thinking about where they get their beliefs. And that is key to getting them to open up to Jesus' other teachings on compassion and acceptance.


Hope this helps.


 

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 29, 2009 - 7:11PM #8
Happyrose
Posts: 20

Hi Posters


Reno Catholic Examiner, Charles Gill


This writer is one you should check out.  His blogs are on the net everyday and he is a scholar par excellence with a vast knowledge of Judaism.  I think he would probably fall in the category of a "spiritual progressive" in his political views which I concur with. Anyway, if you are a Christian or Jewish and progressive while maintaining Biblical relevance in your political views you will enjoy his insights.Smile

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 30, 2009 - 10:48AM #9
Phantasm
Posts: 767

Thank you, Billmc, that is very helpful!  Sometimes I feel like I have to become a Biblical scholar myself just to fight these guys.  Not that I mind, Biblical scholarship is one topic that I actually like to study.  Your approach does simplify things.


I think the closest thing to what Jesus had to say about issues of this kind is in John 8, the accused adulteror.  What did Jesus say to to her? 


"Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."  (NASB)


nasb.scripturetext.com/john/8.htm


And then we never see or hear from this woman again.  I find there's a lot of subtlety in this story that we can work with.

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 30, 2009 - 10:49AM #10
Phantasm
Posts: 767

Oh, and happyrose, thanks for talking about that author.

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