Not everything in the Bible is Biblical!

FI Biblical

19 minutes

I love The Princess Bride. (Like everyone, right?) This 1987 film is a near-perfect blend of fantasy, romance, and our universal desire for justice framed with sarcasm and a constant flow of quotable lines.

One of the petty villains, Vizinni, is a hyperbolically confident know-it-all, unendingly enamored of his diabolical plans. At every turn the hero, Wesley, overcomes the obstacles thrown at him. Each time, Vizinni screeches out, “Inconceivable!”

After several of these moments of frustration, another character, Inigo Montoya, quips that perfectly quotable retort: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

He was right.

Vizinni declared something inconceivable when it violated his plans. In his self-confidence-drunk imagination, it was inconceivable that someone could be more clever, stronger or even luckier than he had accounted for. The word “inconceivable” was his protest when reality challenged his view of himself and the world.

There is a word with this same sort of problem used all the time in the modern Christian church. This word seems innocent enough, yet most every time it’s used it is a distraction, a cover-up, sometimes even an intentional manipulation.

It’s a word that seems simple enough, with a self-evident definition, and yet that assumption is the problem. Most of the time when the word is used, the word does not mean what we think it means.

The word? “Biblical.”

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Did Jesus treat the Bible like we do?

FI Jesus Bible
12 minutes

Not long ago I posted a comment on Facebook. It was meant to be encouraging to my Christian friends. I didn’t expect it to be controversial. I wrote:

“Christian: If your theology, doctrine or world-view is based on anything other than Jesus, it’s time to upgrade your operating system. Saying something is ‘Biblical’ is not helpful because the books in the Bible documents all kinds of beliefs, laws and stories, many of which aren’t meant to be prescriptive, or were prescriptive in a different time and culture, but are no longer. Everything we need to know about God, we see in Jesus. Our guide for how to treat others, we see in Jesus. Our hope is in Jesus. Jesus is God’s final word.”

Very shortly I received a comment that pushed back. “Wait…” they wrote. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting and training in righteousness.” The writer challenged me: “To deny the validity…of any part of scripture requires we deny the validity…of Christ’s words…I believe Jesus is pretty clear that no part of Scripture is outdated or invalid.” She ended with a powerful statement: “I think selective acceptance of the Bible is dangerous and contrary to what Jesus taught.”

Unlike some people who correct me online, this person isn’t a grumpy troll. She is a thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate woman that I happen to know takes her faith quite seriously. Knowing something of her heart, her words felt significant to me, and worth reflection.

Her last statement has been turning over and over in my mind now. Did Jesus clearly teach that no part of Scripture is outdated or invalid? Even asking that question feels heretical to some Christians.  Something about her concern seems exactly right. Something also seemed off.

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Weekend Wisdom / How to read the Bible when it seems like nothing but ancient & irrelevant rules.

FI WW Bible 2 Old Rules
20 minutes

The Bible is God’s word, right? That means the rules and standards in the Bible are God’s rules and standards, right?

Well… it’s not quite that simple.

The Bible has quite a number of rules and standards in it. For some people, the rules have been their primary experience of the Bible. In fact for some it’s the rules that have become the hurdle to get over.

Do all the rules apply? How can they when some of the rules seem to be in conflict? Does it make sense that rules and standards set up for a different culture thousands of years ago would equally apply today? Aren’t some of these rules just used by people to control others?

These are all fair questions.  This is the 2nd entry in my series called, “How to read the Bible when you’ve got really good reasons not to.” This week: How to read the Bible when it seems like just a list of out-of-date rules.

Unfortunately, we were not able to get a video of this presentation, so this week reading is your only option. It’s a huge bummer.

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The tools for facing fear.

FI No Fear
11 minutes

In the quicksand of fear.

This summer was supposed to be a time of renewal for me. That was my plan, anyway.

This spring we put a house on the market. Selling it would free us from some emotional and financial commitments that have been weighing on us, an overfull backpack when the trail calls for lightness. Four months later the house hasn’t sold, and I’m afraid.

I’ve had a book in development with an agent for what feels like forever. For months, my agent’s counsel was to build my platform. Keep writing online. Build engagement. Help people. I’ve been doing that, and the book sat waiting.

Now, my agent says we’re ready to shop the book to publishers. I should be excited, right? Instead, my brain keeps inventing new ways I might be rejected. I’m afraid.

Almost eight months ago I took a significant pay cut. Along with that came a cut in hours. I took it as an opportunity. Space for me to focus on writing so that I could take steps toward my dream. My dream? To support my family through my writing and speaking so that I can serve my little church without drawing a salary from them. In all that time, I’ve made essentially no headway. In fact, I’ve had to take a second job. Months ago I was invigorated and ready to dive in; today I’m just afraid.

Then there are are the blaring fears echoing around us. ISIS! Politicians on “the other side” who want to sell us out or destroy our freedoms! An Activist Supreme Court! Fear of what will happen to the church now that same-sex marriage is legal. Fear of what will happen to the church if we can’t get over ourselves and be loving. Fear that “the other side” of every theological debate is taking over, undermining the church, leading people astray. The noise of fear is clanging, loud and chaotic. With so much noise, it’s hard to even think. I find myself feeling soul paralysis, walking numbly through my day, stuck in my spirit.

Stop. Deep breath.

Maybe you too have felt the dull ache of fear, leaving you feeling alone and uncertain.

Today, I use the prerogative of pastors and writers: preaching to myself. Maybe as you overhear, you’ll find some encouragement.

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Weekend Wisdom / How to read the Bible when you know too much.

FI WW Bible 1 Know Too Much
20 minutes

The Bible is a vital tool for learning about Jesus and building a relationship with God. Yet, many people have a difficult relationship with the Bible. A variety of hurdles keep them from experiencing the Bible in a life-giving way. This summer, to help with this problem, I’m teaching a series called, “How to read the Bible when you’ve got really good reasons not to.”  Each week we will tackle a different obstacle or issue, and offer practical suggestions for moving forward.

The first hurdle that all of us bring is our own experience and pre-conceptions. Some people have very little experience with the Bible. They find it intimidating.  Others were raised on the Bible and know it like the back of their hand. They find themselves a bit jaded. All of us bring some preconceptions with us.  What are they? How can we move past them to a fresh perspective on the Bible?

If you’d prefer to read this presentation, you may below the fold.


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