New rule from Dennis….

I dreamt up a new rule today (a la Bill Maher’s “Real Time”): anyone who says “I believe in the Bible” is not a Christian.
I’ve found that this platitude usually means that the person spouting it has no idea who God is, let alone what being a Christian is about.
You see, my friends, if one’s faith is in a book, then it’s not faith in a person (Jesus) a Divine Mystery (God), or the very Life Breath that animates all the universe (Spirit). It is those things that a Christian has faith in. If one spends their time studying, trying to somehow “prove” the truth and validity of, and/or defending every single verse of, a book, their focus is on the wrong thing.
A Christian begins with faith. In God, as She comes into the world through Jesus, and the Holy Spirit within every single thing that exists in the universe. The Bible is just ONE source among MANY that help a Christian explain and understand this faith. Not the only one, not even the definitive one. The definitive source is Jesus himself. For the Christian, Jesus is more real than anything else. And the Bible is an important tool in this faith journey. But it was never supposed to be the most prominent one, and has never been used that way by Christians. Ever.

Think about it. If the Bible is supposed to be the ultimate source, then most Christians weren’t really Christian throughout history. Because most people couldn’t read, nor did they have the resources to create written biblical texts. If the Bible is supposed to be the ultimate source, then that ultimate source has a thousand different versions to it, as there are thousands of different variations just in the New Testament texts, in the most original, ancient Greek manuscripts that we know of (which is just fine with me- it shows how much difference and diversity has always been honored in the Christian traditions, and how diverse and variant (and deviant!?) God can be!). No, the Bible was never meant to be this one, solid, unified foundation on which Christianity stands or falls. Those that believe that are not Christian. There are Biblicists. And their faith is not in That Which Is the actual one, solid, unified foundation for the
Christian- Jesus.

It’s essential to acknowledge here that the Bible is still very important to study, and understand, even if you’re not Christian. Because literacy rates have gone up in the past few centuries, especially in our country, the Bible is read by more people than ever before in history, even if they’re not Christian. It’s also used ever more in our common cultural discussions, exchanges, and imaginations (Try reading American literature, or political history, without knowing all the biblical references throughout! You’re missing something….). So please read the Bible, especially if you’re a Christian. But remember also to “read” the other sources at use in our Christian journey:
-the experiences you have of/with Jesus (your own faith journey);
-the experiences of the Spirit guiding and supporting the Christian communities throughout the world, throughout history (Christian traditions, Christian styles of worship, and Christian history);
-the experiences of human beings talking to each other about all these variations on Jesus, the Bible, the Spirit, the Church (our common language usually identified as Reason, and rational discussion).
Remember as well that being a Christian has NEVER meant relying on just one of these, nor has it ever meant being JUST one thing. There are as many ways to be Christian as there are versions of the New Testament texts. The beauty of Christianity is the thousands of ways it has been expressed throughout human history.
But I draw the line today on Biblicism. This is not Christianity. An ossified biblical text is just not a Christian exercise. So I’ll say it again, with a deep breath and a warm heart: anyone who says “I believe in the Bible” is not a Christian. I’ll let you know if I come up with any other rules as we go along….
I Love you all!

11 Comments

  1. So, let me get this straight….you are saying that the Bible is one authority, but not the ONLY authority. However, if you claim it is an authority, and all true, then your “other faith experiences” should align with the truth in the Bible. Correct? If they don’t align, then what? You have a new revelation that contradicts the truth in the Bible? So, truth is relative to what your experiences? Please clarify!

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  2. I think I would say Truth is Truth, whether we find it in the Bible, our own experiences, or anywhere else. And I would also say that Truth can seem very contradictory at times. I’m not beholden to some mechanisitc consistency that just doesn’t hold up, in my experiences or in reality. God can seem very contradictory at times, so I don’t expect consistency in the Truth, and in all the ways She chooses to reveal it.
    I guess a good example I would use for what I’m trying to explain here is slavery. There are all kinds of slavery permissible in the Bible, and within the world, even still today. But that really contradicts the basic Truth that slavery is immoral, in all its forms. So this new revelation contradicts what’s true in the Bible, and also shows us how what we thought was True before isn’t really. Our versions and views of Truth change and evolve.
    Another good example of how God’s Truth “an sich” can be contradictory lies at the very core of who we try to be as Open Hearts Gathering. We struggle to affirm that the Truth as, say, I as a Christian may see it is just as valid and absolute as the Truth is for my Jewish, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or Atheist neighbor, that sits right next to me at Open Hearts Gathering, even though we see Truth in so many different ways. I would tend to call this paradoxical, but it is also contradictory. And inconsistent. So I guess yes, Truth is relative, since our sources for Truth are so varied, and say and purport different things, whether it’s the Bible, my own experiences, the faith of my neighbor, etc.

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    • Dennis,

      Your example on slavery is not accurate. Slavery is only wrong if the slaveholder behaves immorally to the slave. The Bible never allowed a slaveholder to act immorally. Besides, slavery in the Bible was completely different than the stereotype Americans draw from.

      Lastly, subjectivism seems to be the epistemological method you use to know truth. This is not reliable. When we discern what is right based on feeling alone, we are left without a basis for ethics. For example: Charles Manson may say God told him to kill people. What basis is there for saying his feelings aren’t God’s commands?

      Reply
  3. So, why would you believe anything the Bible says if you believe it has so many contradictions? Who is to determine what is Truth in the Bible and what is “relative”? Who is to make that distinction? Is it then, left up to each individual to establish their “Truth”? Do you see where I’m going here? If I know the Bible is all true, then I can not also believe that Buddhism is also truth, or Hinduism, or any other religion. And, if I don’t believe that the Bible is all true, then why would I believe any of it at all? If you answer that question as you being the authority to determine what is true in the Bible, then aren’t you elevating yourself above God? You are in fact, saying, that you know more than God!

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    • I’ll try to answer as many of these as possible….first of all, I don’t believe in the Bible, I believe in God. The Bible is a collection of books, and like any book, I am very comfortable believing some parts of it are true and others aren’t. Who is to determine what is True? I am. God created me with a brain, a heart, and guts, and I use all three to figure this stuff out.

      Yes, it is up to each person to figure out what Truth is. It seems pretty clear to me that this is the way God wants it to be, since Truth is so relative, since I see Truth mainfested in the world so differently than many other people living as authentically as I. I don’t know if any one of us has a better grasp on the Truth than any other, and I think it’s up to God to evaluate that ultimately- not me, or you, and certainly not any flawed set of sources like the books of the Bible.

      I really feel sorry for you, that you can’t see other religious paths as true just because you think the Bible is all true- which is an illusion, as I explained in my previous example on the issue of slavery. Only God is all true, and I believe that by saying the Bible is all true you are elevating a collection of books above God.

      Only God is all true, but we are all left with the responsibility, given to us by God, to try to figure out what is true along the way, on this journey of life we all take. We aren’t robots, and yet we aren’t perfect. Neither is any collection of books such as the Bible.

      And with that said, I must tell you that this is the last time I will respond to your comments. You’re welcome to continue to leave them, but whoever you actually are, you’ve become somewhat of a Troll. I invite you, then, to have actual conversation at this point- with me, with this beautiful community that I’m a part of. Join us for a Gathering, or contact me personally. I’m certainly willing make some time face to face together, as I do with many people with lots of questions such as yourself (contact info. is at the “About” tab). Otherwise, please know that I am done making time for this. God bless you in the meantime!

      -Rev. -DTF

      Reply
      • You say: “Only God is all true, and I believe that by saying the Bible is all true you are elevating a collection of books above God.” How do you know God is all true? What source do you rely on? If you say the Bible, why do you cut and paste the sections you like?

        Before I was a Christian, I hated the God of the Bible. I was hostile to Him, and lived autonomously. Believe me, I was spiritual, but never truly knew Jesus Christ. All people can be spiritual, but this does not mean they know God; it just means they are meant for more. (All people can feel emotions when they feel a tug on the other line of a fishing rod, but some only find a stick.)

        The truth is, we must be born again. You and I have a sinful nature that’s in enmity with God. Apart from regeneration, we hate God’s law and rebel against Him. We must repent and believe the good Gospel.

        I would love to share more. I have a passion to disciple others into the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Maybe we can meet at a coffee shop one afternoon. Thoughts?

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  4. Furthermore, what are your thoughts about these verses and directly how you will be judged by what you have taught as a “teacher of the word”?

    1. “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” 2 Peter 2:1-2

    2. 2 John 1:9-10 – What teaching do you believe he is warning against here?

    3. Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one deceives by teaching what?

    4. James 3:1 – Teachers are held to a strict standard to rightly uphold the Truth in the Word of God. Does that not cause you to tremble? It does me, I want to be certain I am upholding the full Word of God!

    My heart aches for you and many prayers are uttered for the sheep in your flock. This is not merely a discussion of “who is right and who is wrong”. My heart aches for you, your family, and the people who sit under your teaching.
    I fully believe that the one true God is able to cause all things to work for His glory whether in heaven or on earth. My prayer for Open Hearts Gathering has always been that the scales would be removed and you would seek the One True God and rest in His truth. It so deeply saddens my heart. I realize my words are empty to you and even as you read them your heart will likely only become hardened. I will continue to pray for you.

    Humbly,
    Tabatha

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    • Ok, well, just to assure you, I truly believe that OHG is in good hands. I appreciate you being just as concerned as I am about our community that you are also making time, as I do, daily, to pray for us. And I’ll just leave you with one question: what if what you believe is actually the false teaching, the false prophecy? As I pointed out in my example on slavery, the Bible isn’t all true….so it seems to me that by believing that yourself, believing something to be true that actually isn’t true, that you may actually have the false teaching here. Just thought I should point that out….

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      • In your mini-sermon you seem to be confused concerning the Doctrine of the Word of God. The Bible is the spoken Word of God. The phrase “word of God” means more than the printed words on a page. God is a communicator and has been speaking into the human realm since the beginning. He speaks through His creation (Psalm 19:1), through ancient prophets (Hosea 12:10; Hebrews 1:1), through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Acts 16:6), through Scripture (Hebrews 4:12), and through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:9).

        The phrase “word of God” appears often in the Bible and can have a slightly different meaning depending on context and the Hebrew or Greek word used. For example: John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Here, Word is a title of the Lord Jesus. The term translated “Word” is logos, which basically means “the expression of a thought.” Logos can be thought of as the total message of God to man (Acts 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Jesus embodied that total message, and that is why He is called the “Logos,” or “Word,” of God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9).

        – Christians do not worship the Bible, we worship the one it speaks of, Jesus Christ. – John 5:39

        Reply
  5. If Truth is so relative, then why is 2 + 2 = 4 and not 4 + 4 = 4 ?

    If God loves us so much, why would He dare leave it up to us to determine what Truth is? That just doesn’t seem right to me…and guess what it’s not right. He did give us the Truth in His word. You say,
    “Yes, it is up to each person to figure out what Truth is. It seems pretty clear to me that this is the way God wants it to be, since Truth is so relative, since I see Truth mainfested in the world so differently than many other people living as authentically as I. I don’t know if any one of us has a better grasp on the Truth than any other, and I think it’s up to God to evaluate that ultimately- not me, or you, and certainly not any flawed set of sources like the books of the Bible.”

    Here you are ultimately saying that Truth is relative to each person’s experiences, guts, hearts, feelings, etc. And then you turn and say it’s ultimately up to God to determine what is Truth. So, are you saying that you aren’t even absolutely sure that you’re right? Then, why ask me if I am sure that I am right? I have NOTHING to loose if I am wrong. Then you say that you wouldn’t leave truth up to what you call a “flawed” book, the Bible. Yet, you elevate your experiences, guts, feelings, as capable of determining Truth? Do you not believe that we are flawed as humans? We all are flawed. Yet most importantly the Bible isn’t.

    The Bible contains no contradictions and no errors in any way. What you see as contradictions have logical explanations.

    And, by the way…I HAVE joined you before and had direct conversations with you! I’m not about “trolling” I am about exposing false teachers….as I am taught to do so in the Bible!

    Reply
  6. Dennis,

    I will say that I need to apologize for my tone in the previous posts that I have made. I have become convicted of the manner in which I was addressing you. I realize that the Lord is fully capable of fighting his own battles of heresy against His name. I often loose sight of His power and might and begin to think He needs me to fight for Him, and that is simply not true. I can become undignified when the Word of God is mishandled. To be clear, I do not recant my stance on scripture being inerrant and infallible yet I do need to apologize for my attitude. Please accept that apologize and thank you for remaining open to discuss your various beliefs.

    Reply

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