Challenging Assumptions

I used to believe every single word in the Bible was perfect. Not just in the original languages, but also the English translation of the King James Version. Perfect. Because God had “inspired” it and made that possible.

These days I recognize that men wrote the Bible. It is a library of 66 (or more) books written over 1500+ years by 40+ human authors in numerous cultures and a handful of ancient languages. Some of it may have been under the “miracle” of inspiration; some things may have been revealed to them somehow ahead of time; however, there is no way you can really prove or disprove that, so I’m not taking up that argument. It’s not enough to say that the Bible says it is inspired; that’s circular reasoning.

The thing I notice now is that the God of the Bible appears to morph quite a bit from the first to the last book in the collection. What I realize now is that it isn’t God who is changing, but the perception of each author from culture to culture. These men are simply describing God based on their current understanding. So I think God gets lots of blame for commands given in the Bible that God never really gave – for example when God supposedly told the Israelites to go into Canaan and “slay every living thing that breathes”. Yeah, right. Brutally kill every man, woman, child, and animal because “God said” it’s our land now. Sure…

Now, the God I see Jesus describe isn’t like that. This God is a father – our “heavenly father”. This God makes sense to me. He loves, protects, forgives, patiently corrects, supports, provides, and shows me by example how I should treat my own kids.

Jesus even went as far as to say “he who has seen me has seen the father” and “whatever the Father does, the Son also does”. I refuse to get into a discussion of whether or not Jesus is God – that can neither be proven nor disproven. But I can say that if the example of Jesus shows us what the Father is really like, then the genocide recorded earlier in the book of Joshua could not have been ordered by God, because that’s not how Jesus treats his enemies. When his disciples wanted to “call fire down from heaven” on a village that wouldn’t let them spend the night, Jesus totally rejected that approach and said they’d just move on to the next town.

I view the Bible as sacred and helpful. It’s a great library of ancient wisdom. But it’s not perfect, it does have internal inconsistencies, and you have to read it with an open yet critical mind like any other wisdom literature. I do believe that something special can happen inside anyone honestly and humbly seeking truth in the Bible…but I think that can also happen by seeking truth in nature, in a film, in a reflection on the past, etc. If you are trying to draw closer to God, God will draw closer to you; I think the author of the Book of James (one of Jesus’ disciples) accurately depicted a truth there that I have personally experienced.

Related to this, I had a great conversation with a longtime friend who pastored a church for over ten years. He was the one who introduced me to some of the authors that led to my leap of doubt.  We worked closely together and shared many, many long hours of philosophical sharing. Nothing was ever off-limits then, and nothing has changed to this day. He’s a true friend.

As I began to reveal the leap of doubt concept to him, he asked a challenging, honest question:

How do you follow Jesus if you don’t trust the book that tells us about him? Too far down that road and it becomes a faith of “whatever feels right to me”, in which case you become your own God.

I appreciate questions like that when they are genuine and not a set-up (like our banned poster). I know him and know his was an honest question trying to understand, not to pigeonhole and condemn. So I replied:

Yeah, it’ll kind of end up that way with me working out my relationship with God directly. I can see that. But there are things in the Bible that resonate within my being (very subjective, I know) and those I follow without having to convince others that I have the only right way.

In the end I think it’s that way for everyone – if what your preacher says doesn’t ring true, you’re not going to truly “believe it”, though you may go along with it for the sake of peace. Same thing for interpretations of scripture. So, in the end, everybody decides what they think is true, even if they’re part of an organized religion.

I know quite a few Roman Catholics who do not believe the Pope is infallible. I know Protestants who are evolutionists and do not take much of the book of Genesis as literal history at all. People choose what they will or won’t believe ultimately based on what makes sense to them – that’s good and right. Then my buddy asked:

How do your own assumptions ever get challenged? What if what “rings true” isn’t really? Didn’t Calvinism “ring true” at one point? Is there no authority outside your own desires and experiences? I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m truly curious. I do think it’s important to have some anchors outside of myself to keep me from running away with things. I don’t trust myself enough to make all the judgments myself. And some, if not all of those anchors, are chosen by faith…not by reason.

These are great questions from a good friend. They deserved a reply:

I’m not threatened and I don’t feel judged – no worries. Just being honest about where I am, which frees me tremendously. I don’t have to have all the answers (or even many answers). But see – you are challenging my assumptions right now, which is totally cool. So have quite a few others over the last six months.

Calvinism indeed “rang true” at one point because of how I was processing stuff – supposedly rationally. I distrust much about that approach now. I’ve grown to distrust men who want to make judgments FOR me. They’re just men. God and I are connected vitally – I know this by personal experience, so I’m not worried about my “standing” with God. I really believe God is my heavenly father, not a psycho/whack job who says “love me love me love me or I WILL BURN YOU!” Some of that understanding came from the lips of Jesus recorded by the apostles, then confirmed by life.

He responded:

I’m not talking about anyone making judgments for me, I’m just talking about having some checks and balances on my own flawed judgment.

To which I replied:

Yeah, and I’m willing to hear people out but in the end it’s still ME who has to decide whether my judgment is flawed or not after hearing people out. So in the end, each of us really IS our own judge. And I may still be led astray…by MYSELF… or by those who challenge my judgment and I capitulate to it. But I’m not worried about my connection with God, and I believe/trust that God will help me deal with it. That personal responsibility with a loving father there to support me… priceless.

This approach leaves me free to follow the advice of the apostle Paul (whom I have some doubts about, but that’s for a later post): “Test everything; cling to what is good”. So I’m free to test ALL things – whether it’s from Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, or even Bill Maher. “All truth is God’s truth”. I don’t have to be afraid of it; instead I should embrace it wherever I find it. And when I can’t be certain if I’ve found truth or not, I can be okay with not having to have all the answers because I’ve taken the leap of doubt into the freedom of uncertainty.

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WDJT?

What did Jesus teach?

What was his actual “good news”? What did he actually mean by that?

Was it really “believe these facts and pray this prayer and you get to go to heaven when you die?” Is that it?

Here’s his first recorded “sermon”, documented in Luke chapter 4:

Then Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual he went into the synagogue on the day of worship. He stood up to read the lesson. 17 The attendant gave him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened it and found the place where it read:

18     “The Spirit of the Lord is with me.
He has anointed me to tell the Good News to the poor. He has sent me to announce forgiveness to the prisoners of sin and the restoring of sight to the blind, to forgive those who have been shattered by sin, 19 to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Jesus closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue watched him closely. 21 Then he said to them, “This passage came true today when you heard me read it.”

Good news to the poor. Forgiveness to prisoners of sin. Restoring sight to the blind. Forgiveness to those shattered by sin.

So then Jesus went out and built himself a church building, hired a staff, and began weekly services with a rock band, multi-colored stage lights, giant video screens, and comfortable seating…?

No. You know what he did…exactly what he said. The poor heard good news that they were no longer marginalized in God’s “society” (despite how they were treated in the Roman Empire). Addicts were forgiven and encouraged. Blind people saw once again. He announced that it was the “year” (not the day) of the Lord’s favor – God was wanting to draw people back to him, eliminating any perceived obstacles or boundaries. God was restoring, delivering, rescuing, healing, saving people from themselves and the consequences of their poor, foolish past choices. God was welcoming, not condemning. Loving, not judging. God was to be viewed as our “heavenly father” – and there is much to be gleaned from considering that.

Those of us who have had horrible experiences with earthly parents know what we wish would have happened instead. I think the kind of parents each of us wished we had reflects an innate understanding of the kind of parent God actually is. And I think Jesus was opening the door to that understanding, reminding us that though we have wandered off and wasted our resources like the younger brother in the tale of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), God lovingly, patiently, compassionately waits for us to return, ready to cover our shame, restore us, heal us, encourage us, and let us know we never stopped being his children.

If you know that tale, you also know that the older brother in the story – the one who stayed at home supposedly faithful, loyal, and well-mannered – was hateful and spiteful and condemning of his younger brother. And when Jesus told that tale, it was directed at the Pharisees – the self-assured, self-righteous, judgmental religious establishment of his day. These were the conservatives who had all the “right” teachings and “moral” practices, yet were the ones Jesus reserved his very harshest words for.

But for those of us who have experienced heartache, shame, guilt, and consequence for our foolish and obsessive choices – for those of us like the younger brother who squandered our gifts, resources, and so many precious years – the good news of Jesus is that Father God is patiently waiting for us to give up, to surrender, to return to the family. He waits for us to enjoy the love that was always there and to heal the shame and pain that could never come between us and our father. And he longs to see us become all that we can be for his sake and for the sake of this spinning globe we inhabit. But not merely for ourselves. No. Because everyone is part of this family. All are welcomed. And all have a special place and special gifts/abilities that enhance everyone else’s life.

You see, I’m put here for you. I am your keeper. Your encourager. Your helper. We are family. So we need to live as family. We need to stop treating others as tools, enemies, inferiors and instead treat one another with patience, respect, and a love willing to sacrifice our own comfort so that none of us lack what we really need – physically, emotionally, spiritually. When you read Jesus’ “sermon on the mount” in Matthew 5-7, you see that kind of society proclaimed; some call it his “Kingdom Manifesto”. And when you read about people entering into “life” in this passage, it’s not about getting into the afterlife (“heaven”), but rather real living – vibrant, purposeful, love-filled joy that never gets old when compared to the fleeting pleasures many of us have wasted our time, money, and efforts to experience.

In other words, Jesus was concerned about the quality of our lives in the here and now, not in the “Sweet Bye and Bye”. He’s micro-focused on our relationships with others here as we cultivate his kind of society by our actions and character, not by legislating our morality and forcing others to capitulate. It is a society without borders where we all have a unique role to play for the sake of everyone else. Everyone is valued. Everyone is loved. Everyone is forgiven. And everyone is welcome. It doesn’t require a building, a non-profit corporate charter, and board-certified college-trained staff. It’s just humble people who think his way of living, his plan for peace, is the best path and hope for this planet. You come, too.

Splitsville

I was raised in a hellfire-and-brimstone Baptist megachurch, complete with all the rules, prohibitions, fear, guilt, manipulation, and self-righteous certainty that goes along with it. Not only were Baptists the only right ones, our particular collection of churches (the Baptist Bible Fellowship) was “the best” and our particular church (Temple Baptist of Detroit) was the pinnacle. Or so we thought.

I went knocking on doors trying to convert people for the church, gave much money, time, and talent to the organization. I sang in their choirs, performed solos of original music, and even became an ardent “Bible Believer” (code for those who believe the King James Version is the only God-inspired translation of the Bible in English, and the only one that matters).

I went to their Christian school for junior high and high school, then went to a BBF college (Liberty University, home of Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority). I read the books, studied the theology, surrendered my life to their version of spirituality. I wasn’t perfect, but learned how to hide my “moral failings” like any good hypocrite.

The more I read the Bible, especially the book of Acts, the more I came to see that the church I grew up – actually the entire fellowship of churches – looked nothing like what actually happened in the Bible. There were always rationalizations, reasons, explanations, excuses given for this disparity, but in my late 20’s my wife and I started looking for what we considered “authentic Christianity”.

The Search

This search led through a number of smaller church communities, including some of the Nazarene tradition. The main difference between Nazarenes and Baptists is that Baptists believed once you were truly “saved” you could never lose it; Nazarenes, on the other hand, believed you could lose it (but Baptists figured those people were not “truly saved”). Nazarenes also believe  you can reach a state of “sinless perfection”, while Baptists don’t worry about that at all.

We noticed that people were the same regardless of which tradition they held. We also noticed that we felt more love, acceptance, and grace from non-religious people than we ever did from the religious types. That was confusing. In our continuing search, we tried out a home Bible study that in a short while turned into a home church.

Feeling that we had finally find a community of people who authentically practiced what we read in the Bible, we stayed with these people for six years as it slowly morphed into what we now realize was a cult. It was led by a charismatic, intelligent, and very arrogant person who was a gifted teacher and expert manipulator. We became entrenched in a Calvinist perspective of scripture where only those previously chosen by God (“the elect”) were saved, and your evidence of your election was that you lived faithfully to the end. Anyone who left the group, therefore, was deemed unfaithful, unelect, and clearly destined for Hell. Fear is a powerful motivator.

We finally began seeing through the distortions, lies, and manipulations of the leader, and decided to confront our fear and put our destiny in the hands of God. We discovered through this that God is not a tyrant or psychopath demanding to be loved or else, but that God is a tender father/mother who loves us, cares for us, provides for us, and desires what is truly best for us.

The Search continues

We continued our search for authentic Christianity. I explored Eastern Orthodoxy – the most ancient Christian tradition – on and off for several years, but came away from my studies realizing that nothing of substance is really documented for about one hundred years after the formation of the church. As entrenched as the Orthodox were in their tradition, no one knows if their practices were passed down from the apostles or if they were invented in that hundred years as something that “seemed right” to the practitioners or leaders. Church tradition became very suspect.

I can appreciate the symbolism and beauty of both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions – perhaps more so than regular attenders – but that doesn’t mean it is the one “right” way. We explored the Plymouth Brethren tradition for over  a decade and came away with the same reservations, only worse. Their focus on weekly communion, dispensationalism (that gave us the whole “Left Behind” phenomena), and their approach to interpreting scripture felt more like we were back in the cult at times. And seeing that their whole brand of teaching and worship was invented less than two hundred years ago, it can hardly be argued to be ancient or apostolic.

We have Lutheran and Presbyterian friends with whom we’ve shared in depth, even attending some of their services. We’ve experienced worship with the Disciples of Christ, Pentecostals, and a number of other spin-offs and splits. And yet, didn’t Jesus pray that his followers would all be one? Certainly these churches weren’t helping that cause, but were rather encouraging the distinctions, differences, and division.

So who is right?

They can’t all be right. And based on our experience, none of them is. So the megachurch we currently attend (mainly for their ministry to kids and teens, not for it’s “correctness”) launched a campaign over a two-year period to unite churches in southeastern Michigan to promote the good news of Jesus primarily by acts of service, but also by words at times. This looked promising – especially the service projects – but in the end it just felt more like marketing and manipulation. If you’re doing something for ulterior motives, it comes through as disingenuous and isn’t love at all.

Along the way I’ve also read a lot by authors from emerging/Emergent Christianity and modern bible scholars who question a lot of the perspectives held dear over the last 400-500 years. N. T. Wright, Scot McKnight, Brian McLaren, Peter Rollins, Rob Bell, Shane Hipps, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Erwin McManus, and many others have much to say that for me adds context back to the Bible that has been lacking for a long time. Instead of reading scripture as if it were written to the 20th century white American  middle class, they’ve insisted we do the very hard work of understanding what the original author intended the original hearers to understand in their culture using their shared stories.

I came to understand that much of what I have been taught by men that the Bible “teaches” it doesn’t actually teach. Instead, men have interpreted it (incorrectly) and taught their interpretation as fact and even as absolute truth. The interpretations of men, not the “word of the Lord”. This is what divides people into denominations and sects (this plus fear). But Jesus said that love would be the hallmark of his followers, and it would be evidenced by unity. So whatever it was that Jesus actually meant, it can’t be what has led to this proliferation of religions and traditions.

That begs the question -what did Jesus actually teach, and what did he actually mean by that? What was his actual “good news”? Was it really “believe these facts and prayer this prayer and you get to go to heaven when you die?” Is that it? Read Matthew chapters 5 – 7 (it’s not that long and you may even find it enjoyable – but don’t read it in the King James Version, try the New International or New Living Translation or The Message or the God’s Word translation). See what his essential good news really was and we’ll pick this back up in a day or two.

Banned

I had to ban our first person today. It was weird, but not unexpected.

We have no intention of trying to convince anybody of anything. We are simply stating where we are, and if it resonates with you, then great – maybe we can encourage each other through honest conversation that doesn’t have any ulterior motives or secret mission to persuade, shame, or otherwise manipulate each other. We respect each person’s right to make up their own mind – as a matter of fact, we encourage it. Even if you disagree with us… that’s OK.

What’s not okay is sneaking in pretending to want a conversation when really you are just trying to pigeon-hole us into this or that category so you can then agree with or condemn us. What’s worse is asking all kinds of leading questions trying to trap us into revealing the nugget that enables you to condemn us. Jesus never did that.

Let me repeat: Jesus never did that. When confronted by those trying to trap him in his words, he usually provided terse replies that revealed their lack of understanding of where he was coming from. Jesus saw through them; and having grown up in Bible-believing fundamentalist and evangelical circles, I know exactly where those types are coming from. I know the arguments, the tactics, the dead give-away signs that reveal their ulterior motives. Heck, I was one of them in the past.

In Matthew chapter 7 Jesus makes it clear that we should trust others into God’s care and not resort to manipulation/shame/condemnation to get people to change, nor should we resort to giving out all kinds of unwanted, unrequested, irrelevant “pearls of wisdom” or other kinds of positive manipulation. He used the metaphor of trying to give pearls to a pig (which can’t appreciate or value it) or giving holy things to a dog (which likewise cannot grasp what is so special about the item).

You don’t have to agree with us, and  you’re fully welcome to ask honest questions; we’ll probably have a response, but not necessarily an “answer”. But if you’re coming here to “evangelize” us to your modernistic evangelical paradigm, just move on elsewhere because we see through it, reject it, and aren’t interested in your pointless polemics.

As I offered our banned user, you are welcome to email us at info@theleapofdoubt.com, but don’t annoy us with your posts or else you’ll lose the privilege of posting here. We’re welcoming and non-judging except for those who come to condemn…in their case, they have judged themselves to be unwelcome by their actions which are not in keeping with the spirit of this page.

We’re not looking to gather a mass of adherents to start yet another organization the world doesn’t need, but we are open to a community of people tired of the chains of so-called certainty who are seeking the freedom to love God, follow Jesus, and not have to say they “believe” stuff that in their heart they doubt.

Deep

A couple years back my band was performing at a club in Pontiac, Michigan. Our songs were intended to get people’s toes tapping, their bodies moving, and along the way express some of our philosophy that may or may not resonate with anyone in the room. It was our mission to play great, honest music; if it helped someone on their journey, that’s a bonus and side-effect.

After our set, one of the customers came over and asked if he could buy me a drink, and said, “Dude, that was really great…but it was deep, too. I didn’t know whether to slit my wrists or change my ways…”

His buddy came up quickly and said, “Yeah, Jesus Chr…. uh… and Freud and Nietzsche, that was really deep!”

I thought it was comical how he seemed to intuitively know that Jesus influenced our way of thinking and songs in spite of the fact that we were not on some kind of evangelistic mission for any church or anything, and didn’t even mention the name Jesus much less anyone else’s name – we were just guys playing tunes we believed in a bar.

I responded, “Well, since you mentioned Jesus, I have to say that Christians give him a bad reputation that he doesn’t deserve.” That received a “Damn, straight!” from both of them. I went on to say that if Christians actually did what Jesus taught – treating people with love, respect, patience, humility, and lack of condemnation, things would be a lot better for everyone. They wholeheartedly agreed.

I think it’s a shame how unscrupulous and dishonest some people are in trying to “market” Jesus to the masses as they build their religious organizations. There’s always some kind of ulterior motive that is obvious to those who are being “ministered to”.

It’s evident when someone doesn’t really want to be your friend, but instead is using friendship as a tactic for getting you into their group. It’s obvious when someone really doesn’t want an actual empathetic give-and-take conversation trying to understand one another, but instead is using it to pigeon-hole the other person into some neat little box or set them up to lose at some kind of debate as though that will change anyone’s heart.

Jesus did good. He spoke honestly. He was merciful and kind with people who were social outcasts, misfits, the “scum of the earth”. But with religious people trying to trap him in his words he was cagey, short, and didn’t play along with their little schemes. Whatever anger he displayed was always directed at the religious people of his day for their hypocrisy, manipulation, greed, heartlessness, and dishonesty.

It’s no different today. And, in truth, I’ve been on the bad side of this equation too many times in the past. I’ve been the “dishonest evangelist” that people saw right through and distrusted immediately. It sickens me, but I now forgive myself and move on, taking the leap of doubt into the deep, deep freedom of not having to have all the answers anymore, and being just fine with that.

Ruined

“It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble,
it’s what we know that ain’t so”
– Will Rogers

Theology has ruined me. Decades of sermons, books, studies, blog postings, seminars… all to ultimately learn that everyone is “right” in their own eyes. For each school of thought there is a complete defense for their system.

Never mind the numerous pre-suppositions and assumptions that form their foundation. Ignore the gaping holes in logic that frame their construction. It’s like a roughed out house with no real walls yet… or like an emperor in a parade  wearing imaginary clothing. Any error is glossed over with a suspension of disbelief since a true believer in their system would never dare really raise the question.

Raising honest questions is what taking the leap of doubt is all about.

If you aren’t allowed to be honest about doubt, then you aren’t living in reality. If you aren’t allowed to question teachings that men have created and passed along (for two years or two thousand, it doesn’t matter), then you aren’t living from the depths of your heart.

What is it that causes people to avoid the difficult questions? What is it that causes people to side with one group’s interpretation over another, claiming they are the only ones who are right about that topic? I think there’s simple four-letter word for it.

Fear.

Fear to be wrong. Fear to lose. Fear to be reprimanded. Fear to be on the outs (with God or the group). Fear of insecurity. Fear of isolation. Fear of uncertainty… because if each school of thought is rife with its own problems, then what can you really be certain about?

The truth is, there is MUCH you can be certain about that is healthy, good, constructive, restorative, and freeing. Much. And it has little to do with theological correctness or political correctness or anything that divides people into separate warring tribes.

You can be certain of God’s love. You can be certain God has your best interests at heart, even if you have to travel some very dark valleys along the way. You can be certain that God is merciful and forgiving and supportive and a very present help when you’re in deep trouble. But that kind of certainty has another name – it’s called faith.

This kind of faith that is not like wishing on a star. It is more the confidence through experience that when you move ahead (despite the risks and uncertainty), God will be there every step of the way. Sometimes he may be silent, but he’ll be there.

And God will provide what you need at just the right time (assuming you’re working on the kinds of things God actually cares about). God is not an enabler of co-dependents, but he is a loving, caring father… and in truth, a nurturing, supportive mother. It’s unfortunate that it is so common to use the masculine pronoun regarding God, because if we (male and female) are made in the image of God, then God must have both attributes and is not solely a “he” anyway. That is worth considering, contemplating, owning.

Things like this are worth being certain about through experience, worth having real faith. They help build your life, your faith, and ultimately help restore the world. And that is something that theological arguments over our origins, destiny, and the cosmic nature of “sin” and “punishment” fail to do.

Theology camps often provide an alternate universe in which everything makes sense (to them), but is so detached from the realities people actually live in that it plays out to the ruin of people, society, and the planet. Because if God is going to burn it all up anyway and only rescue his “chosen few” (the ones in their camp), then nothing else matters but their rescue. They may be eager to get the word out to bring in more people to their side, but that then brings in more money, power, and desire for control. And with that comes more fear. And more than anything else, fear will bring us all to ruin.

God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment.
– Paul of Tarsus to Timothy in Ephesus

Logic-Go-Round

I learned about the concept of “pre-suppositions” when I took Philosophy 201 in college. When making a rational argument, people have certain assumptions and rely on particular foundational building blocks of logic in order to prove their point. So long as their assumptions are true and so long as their pre-suppositions are agreed to beforehand, a discussion can ensue and people can dialogue together toward understanding (and perhaps even agreement).

One of the classic presuppositions derided in the Baptist schools in which I was educated was the fossil record. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the following circular reasoning derided:

“This fossil is 2 millions years old.”  “How do you know that?”
“Because it is found in this layer of rock.”
“How do you know the rock is that old?”
“Because 2 million year old fossils are found there.”

The teacher would then have a good laugh, certain that the fallacy of the fossil record had been simply and swiftly put to bed.

However, the same teacher would rely on similar circular reasoning when appealing to the Bible as authoritative truth from God himself:

Every word of the Bible is true and authoritative.  “How do you know that?”
“Because God wrote the Bible.” “How do you know God wrote it?”
“Because the Bible says that God wrote it.” 

This is a slight simplification of the argument. There are certain nuances and terms used such as “God inspired the Bible” – whatever that means. “Holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the Spirit” – which means and implies what? No matter, because this is self-referencing and relies on the pre-supposition that the Bible is the very “word of God” in the first place. It also assumes that God needed to use written language at a later point in human history to get across what his design in nature and his wiring of the human heart failed to get across.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think God is that incapable of communicating nor that slow to have to do it over a period of 1500+ years through 40+ different human authors, all who somehow “magically” wrote 100% truth through God’s empowering spirit…and then to force humankind to have to wait several hundred more years before some authoritative group of men (no women allowed) could agree as to which sacred writings were really from God, which ones weren’t from God but were still OK, and which ones were “heresy”.

Hopefully we can all agree on at least these presuppositions:

1. Human beings physically wrote what we now consider sacred writings.

2. Some of them at least experienced some kind of “inspiration” – whether that is akin to what artists have experienced throughout history or not is subject to debate.

3. Some of them were simply doing their day-to-day thing – collecting proverbs, documenting the history of the kingdom, writing letters to distant friends – which required no artistic inspiration at all, though they may have felt the words “flowing” somehow…maybe.

4. Later humans determined which writings were more sacred to them than others.Whether or not God was involved in that process is open to debate.

5. Still later humans attempted to translate those sacred writings into their own language, assuming they accurately understood the historical meanings of the words, euphemisms, cultural context, etc. so that what they translated is a fair depiction of what the original author intended.

6. Still later humans read those translations and came up with their interpretation of what each passage meant and how it applies to their place and times. These humans rarely agree as to the particulars of any of these sacred writings, but each claim their interpretation is the only correct one.

7. If Jesus’ teachings were clearly remembered and documented by the gospel authors, and if they were correctly included in the collection of sacred writings (i.e. the canon of scripture), and if they were reasonably translated into English so that we can understand it… then the important thing for us to evidence our following the way of Jesus is NOT what interpretations we agree with our what religion or liturgy we practice… it is how well we love one another.

And the logic of love makes the world go `round…