Friday, September 6, 2013

Has Your Understanding Become Your Calf?

Proverbs 3:5 (KJV)  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
That verse has been coming to mind quite a bit recently.  Mostly because of some personal experiences, recently  One’s a little more personal, the other is something more spiritually foundational and some of the results bring things I wrestle with.

I’m a member and a moderator of the Christian Bloggers community on Google Plus.  Chris Wilson, the community leader, came up with the idea of recording individual Hangout interviews so that the community and others could learn more about the members who allowed themselves to be interviewed.  I volunteered.
There were definite lessons to be learned from the experience.  We had some bandwidth issues that forced it to be an audio interview without me being seen on camera and, at some points, muddied the audio I was hearing.  The interview taught me that, after 40+ years away from broadcasting, doing interviews is very much like riding a bicycle.  The first few times back at it will be very wobbly and unstable.  Having an ex-broadcaster’s OCD about anything that’s equivalent of being “on the air”, I could nitpick a ton of things on my end, especially too many vocal hesitations and places where I should have expanded further.  But it also has some good content.  So, I’ll lean on Proverbs 3:5 for your edification and enjoyment of that one.  The interview is here: .
Switching subjects, some other things recently brought that verse to mind.  We all are familiar with the passage in Exodus 32 about the Israelites in the desert forming and worshipping the golden calf.  God wasn’t happy about it and neither was Moses.  And Israel apparently repented.  Most of us would consider the subject a closed matter.  But there’s a passage in Hosea, after they’ve been in the Promised Land for some time.
Hosea 13:2 (KJV)  And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.
Idols abound, based on man’s understanding and, at the very end, there’s that silly calf, again.  It’s interesting that they kept choosing a calf.  If we go back to passages prior to Exodus 32, the calf was a regular offering to God.  So they chose to worship something as a god that should have been recognized as less than God and offered up to Him.
A recent online conversation got me thinking about that.  One of my fellow bloggers has been publishing a series of posts about the things where his beliefs vary from normal Christian understanding.  Including the inerrancy of the Word.  Further discussion brought out that he doesn’t consider the Bible as infallible, either.  Instead of having me comfortable in my own knowledge, those two statements would have me wrestling with what I understand.  Particularly, if I still believe that Jesus was the only one whose sacrifice gained me access to heaven and God for eternity.  Follow my train of thought.
First, let me say that I follow the dictionary definitions of inerrancy and infallibility.  Both are almost exactly the same.  So, I treat them the same.  While I recognize there are some nuances.  It’s kind of like those calves.  One may be a Holstein with black spots and one may be that red heifer. but they’re both still calves.
So, if one were to say that the Word is neither inerrant or infallible, then how does one regard it as Scripture?  Is some of it true?  If so, which parts?  And if you and I disagree on what parts are true, which of us is right and which of us is wrong?  Or are we both wrong because a third party has a different set of “right” portions?  Certainly, those are things worth wrestling with.  There are others.
If we believe that Jesus had to go to the Cross (and did) for our salvation, what are we basing that on?  If we say the Bible is not inerrant or not infallible or both, then are we saying we’re basing our beliefs on flawed documents?  Even more, how do we conclude that Jesus was the only one who could do that?  Or do we start selectively choosing what parts of the Gospels are true and what parts of our understanding of Jesus are true?  And here’s an interesting question.  If we claim Christianity in any way, since Jesus recognized Scripture as being Scripture, can we follow Him without doing likewise?
There are Indian religions that allow including Jesus among hundreds of other Gods.  No one in their right mind would claim that those religions could lay claim to being Christian.  But they definitely ignore Proverbs 3:5.  In the sense described in the Bible, anything that ignores Scripture status of the Bible has to be leaning on their own understanding.  What we know and understand becomes our calf.
Do you see where I wrestle with some of this thinking that questions Scripture?  If we say that only parts are true or that human error has infected the Bible, then it leads to some harsh conclusions.  Is God incapable of either avoiding the problems or making use of them, the ones caused by human error?  Doesn’t all that turn God (big G) into god (little g)?  And make Him no more than the myths we claim other religions to be?
No, I didn’t nicely come to a conclusion here.  Or give nice answers.  I believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  But I can’t impose my thinking on what you conclude without having both of us leaning on my understanding.  These are all things each of us needs to study on our own, read about, and form our own conclusions.  And we need to recognize that, since those conclusions determine our spiritual destiny, it’s important that we do study them out.  So, we’ll close with two questions.
Has our understanding become our calf?  And what are we doing to grow from understanding to relationship?

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