Monday, August 9, 2010

How to close conversation and relationship

At seminary, I was always amazed at the people who would quote chapter and verse at the professor to make their point which opposed what was being taught. I remember specifically one session in my philosophy course. The professor was Dr. Jerry Walls, one of the well known proponents of Wesley-Arminianism. He co-wrote the book, Why I am not a Calvinist, with Dr. Joseph Dongell. We were discussing the Calvinist/Wesley-Arminian debate. One student who obviously disagreed with Dr. Walls asked, "Are you familiar with Romans 9?" The rest of the class gasped. How arrogant can you be?! To question whether a seminary professor is familiar with a Scripture passage goes beyond arrogant.
I in no way am at the level of Jerry Walls or Joe Dongell when it comes to theology or philosophy. Yet I have experienced people whipping out Scripture verses to show me how wrong I am as if I have never read the Bible. I have been assaulted with Scripture.

Add Biblical arrogance to any discussion and watch the conversation spiral into a mean spirited, shouting match as everyone takes their corner.

But we do this all the time. We whip out chapter and verse, bludgeoning the homosexuals over the head with Scripture or battering women over the issue of roles in church. We quote the scripture as if it is the ending argument. There. Its final. You have no place to go. And we leave the person on the other end of the conversation bleeding. I am not questioning the authority of Scripture. I believe Scripture gives us the beginning place for our experience of God and also is the filter for our experiences of God. Can we wrestle together with the text instead of wrestling with each other using the text as a weapon?

What if we asked the question, "so how does your view work with these Scriptures?" "How do these Scriptures affect your experience of God?" How does your experience of God make sense of these Scriptures?" What if we allowed Scripture not to be the end, but the beginning of dialogue?


  1. Great thoughts. I've often considered that we are so afraid of being cut to the heart by the "sword of the Spirit" that we take it away from God and wield it ourselves.

  2. Thank you Craig. I never viewed it as a fear of ourselves being cut to the heart by the 'sword of the Spirit.' You've made me think. We use Scripture as a weapon to uphold our own righteousness? Out of defense? Thanks for adding to my journey.

  3. I too have experienced being bludgeoned by scripture. Unfortunately it happens in the church I serve by folks that use scripture like a cub scout with a Swiss Army knife. they haven't figured out how to use all of the tools available to them so they use the one they are the most familiar with; the one that cuts. Unfortunately - they cut everything. The truly sad part is they miss out on understanding that scripture is alive, amazing and deeper than they know. I feel bad for them; often.

  4. So true, Monica. They know certain verses and are suddenly an expert. The more I study Scripture the further I feel from expert status....