Deciding the meaning of scripture has been going on since scripture was seen as authoritative. The simple statement, “It says what it means and means what it says”, betrays ignorance when it comes to understanding scripture.
Even the Old Testament law had along with it an explanation about the application of many of those laws. Jewish scholars could see that the Law of Moses had to be reasoned with. For example, when it came to an eye for an eye, one scholar said the size of the eye should be considered. If a small eye had been lost, it did not seem fair or just that a large eye would have to be given up to satisfy justice. You may find that a little silly, but it is not. Fairness in law requires that all things be considered. In other words, you don’t execute someone for shoplifting. The idea of equal value was, and still is, important.
So arguments such as how many angels can stand on the head of a pin will continue. Such discussions should not, but do, cause division and even violence. We take religion seriously, especially when we line up on opposite sides and shoot scripture at each other. It happens all the time and it usually deals with the “letter” of the law versus the “spirit” of the law.
The problem is that “law” and scripture are not the same thing. There are principles and guidelines in scripture as well as direct instructions. Such as “giving as one has prospered.” But even such a guideline as that can evoke disagreement as to what it means. The list could go on, but that is not my interest when I speak of the scripture wars.
While arguments about whether John the Baptist’s baptism was valid for the forgiveness of sins, to a hundred other things are interesting enough and can split groups into warring factions, these are not the worst of the scriptural wars. The worst are those where scripture is hurled as bombs to explode an understanding of scripture which supports human value. It happened all the time throughout history and it is happening now.
One of the first great sins of humanity was when one group looked at those who were in a different group and decided that the different group was inferior to them. We could say it started with Cain and Able. Seen as inferior, they do not deserve to be treated as equals. In fact, they could be treated like animals if they could be overpowered. They could be used as slaves or anything the imagination desired.
All human groups have looked at themselves as superior to others. The Egyptians, mostly because the people of Israel were squatters in the land that bordered on the one access to Egypt from the east, and did not believe in Egypt’s gods, decided they could not depend of these foreigners to be loyal to them, so since they were not Egyptians, relocated and enslaved them.
All wars ancient wars ended with persons taken as slaves. Even the Jews saw foreigners as potential slaves after a battle. Value even differed between tribes of the same people. Jacob and Esau were brothers, but their value was seen as unequal because of their birthdates.
With this inequality so deep seated, it is no surprise that any number of things became deciding factors in determining the value of the person or persons. In a patriarchal world it was easy to place women as inferior to men. This has gone on for centuries and in many places it is still part of the social structure. In each case where the Bible was considered a determining factor, scripture was used as proof. Those who would come to oppose this view also pulled out scripture to prove the other side wrong. One would think there would be a clear winner. After all, scripture is authoritative, is it not? But neither side sees the other side’s scriptures as being correct and authoritative.
Color became the most common judgment of a person’s worth. Even shades of color counted in the worth of the person. Black became the extreme on one end and white on the other. This was true even though humanity did not advance first through the lightest skinned people. It is interesting that color is not a strong element for determining value in the Bible. So it is also interesting that scripture was, and is, used to support discrimination based on color.
In the Bible, as well as societies beyond the Bible, value was based on ancestry. Regardless of color, if you were part of what was believed to be superior ancestry, or of a superior god, others were inferior. Since they were inferior they did not deserve to be treated as equals with equal value.
It is at the point that scripture is used to prove that some persons are inferior to others because of gender, race, region and any other thing that devalues the person, that the real harm is done. Using scripture to argue over intangible things is one thing. Using scripture to argue human value is quite another.
Does scripture argue for human value and equality? Of course. But those who argue the opposite position lob their scriptures across the trenches in an attempt to win their position. And so the war goes on as it has from the beginning. It is so deeply entrenched that there is little use to argue at all, especially using scripture. So how can these kinds of issues be solved? Any suggestion can be opposed. But I think we need, when human value and equality is involved, to step away from proof texts and look at how pitiful history has shown such an approach to be. In each case, with one sex seen as inferior to the other, with certain colors being inferior to others, with a certain color from a certain region being so inferior they are considered less than fully human, so they can be used like animals, or with economic status as a value, history has shown those who refused to grant equality by using scripture to be historically inferior!
Not only Jesus, but others who have demanded that all human beings be treated as they themselves want to be treated, see it as the beginning and the end of human value. What that takes is a change of heart, not a scripture war.
CONCERNS: Wayne Phlegar is recovering from a broken kneecap. He will be in a brace for about three more weeks. Connie Crites has two brothers dealing with cancer. Eleanor Crush (caner), Randy Conner has had radical surgery to remove his cancer. His wife, Debbie has asked for our prayers. They have not yet determined the source of Tooney’s head aches. Her mother is a friend of Judy McWhorter’s. Mike Breeding and his wife. Mike is Ron Matney’s nephew. Alma Martin. Joni Beach’s mother (cancer), Connie Crites’ father, (heart problems), Helen Nicklas, Jenni and Wilma Cullum. Jenni is dealing with some arthritis in one leg. Erma Williams is still job hunting. Remember Tim Elder, Scott Laughon, and those who work with Health Talents Int. and Bread For A Hungry World…
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 20-25
Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Eccl. 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUN. 27-JULY 2
Monday: Genesis 28:10-22
Tuesday: Matthew 18:1-14
Wednesday: Luke 5:1-11
Thursday: II Samuel 12:15-25
Friday: Acts 19:23-41
Saturday: Psalm 91:1-16
Melanie Beaver has returned to her home in West Virginia to continue her education at Marshal University. She has been an active part of camp and our youth for many years even before she came here to enter Roanoke College.
Some of you may remember Vickie Ham. Vickie moved here in 2007 and was going through a divorce and needed help at Christmas for her little girl, Sara. She was also recovering from cancer. Vickie worked her way though all of it and is now in Oklahoma City, soon to be married. She wanted to thank us for all we did for her.
Thanks to Rich Crites for repairing the damage done by someone to the lower wall in the handicapped parking area.
THE NEW DIRECTORY
Enough new directories have been printed so that you may take at least two copies. If you took some last Sunday, you will find the corrected information which you can take and correct yours at home. If you brought yours back to get a corrected copy, please place them on the hat rack in the foyer so they do not get mixed in with the corrected ones. Information on where to place the corrections is also available on the foyer table. Thanks
Today, June 19, is Super Sunday as well as Father’s Day. Where can you find dad a home-cooked meal today without waiting in line except right here after church in the annex? Come!
Panda Mania is fast approaching! We are just three weeks away from this year’s Vacation Bible School. This will be the last year for VBS, at least for awhile. The children who come always have a good time, but our attendance has declined. Helpers are needed. If you are willing, see Erma Williams. As you can see in the foyer, there are things you can do by supplying some of the needs. Take a panda and provide the needed items. The Panda mania dates are July 11-15, 6:00-8:30 PM.