The last Bible Reformation - from Luther to Gay activists
In a recent debate on the literal translation of the bible, it appears that many Christians who are openly Gay view the bible as non literal in order to reconcile their sexuality and their interpretation of the bible. Hence many are perturbed by other Gays who are holding on to the traditional interpretation of the bible including creation, salvation through Jesus Christ alone, amongst many other debates. How can they reconciled a literal interpretation of the bible with their sexuality, they asked? Whilst we can accept a diversity of views, it is important that we do not find ourselves championing a position because of our Christian background - be-it liberal or fundamentalist or because of our sexual orientation, but out of a thorough study of the bible from a neutral perspective, display humility in accepting that we can be wrong, and most importantly having a close fellowship with Jesus. At the end, all things will past away except God's love for us, whose love resulted in His death whom our acceptance bring us into eternal fellowship with Him.
The Bible (from Greek word [hē biblos] ) is a combination of the 66 books of the Old Testament and New Testament of Christianity. The Old Testament includes Hebrew Bible or Tanakh consisting of 24 books made up of three parts -: the Torah (Pentateuch), Nevi'im(Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). In the Old Testament, the Hebrew bible is renumbered into 39 books. The New Testament is a collection of 27 books with Jesus as its central figure, written primarily in Greek. The Canon of the Bible or the definitive list of books considered by the Christian Community to be the bible is considered "closed". The Old Testament canon is defined by the Jewish Council of Jamnia in AD 90. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent: on April 8, 1546, by vote approved the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon. The Westminster Confession of Faith: in 1647, of Calvinism, decreed the finalized 39-book OT and 27-book NT.
Should be interpret the bible literally? The foundation of Christianity is based on the literal translation of the bible, i.e., that the events, places, and people of the bible and their interaction with God from the times of Abraham, to David, to Jesus, and then to Paul really existed and not a figment of imagination. But that said, the bible is a book written for us, and NOT to us. In order words, the bible cannot be said to be a literal commandment to us, but instead written to its intended recipients be it, the Jews, the Gentiles, or early Christians based on their particular dispensation, culture, and context. The concept of timeline and the sequence of events is of great importance as it provides the understanding and reason why certain things occur when they should . We are to study and interpret in accordance to where we fit in the overall timeline and how it is applicable today. In order to understand the bible, we need to understand the motive and the reasons for the events that has happened in order to translate it to apply to our circumstances. To literally interpret the bible without considering all the above is no reasonable interpretation but reading the bible blindly.
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is a methodology for theological reflection by John Wesley, leader of the Methodist movement in the late 18th Century and popularised by Albert C. Outler. Upon examination of Wesley's work, Outler theorized that Wesley used four different sources in coming to theological conclusions:
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is a good guide but err in including scripture in the same plane as tradition, reason, and experience. Tradition has been used by the church to introduce new beliefs that has no foundation in the scriptures. This includes the supremacy of the Pope, the worship and Mary, and prayers to the Saints. Reason has been used by the church to introduce new pathways to salvation though other religions. Without the supremacy of the scripture, the scripture will be negated. Hence the Wesleyan Quadrilateral is useful as long we have Prima Scriptura. Prima scriptura is a doctrine in Christian theology that says the Bible is "first" or "above all" sources of divine revelation. Implicitly, this view acknowledges that, besides the Bible, there are other guides for what a Christian should believe, and how he should live, such as the created order, traditions, charismatic gifts, mystical insight, angelic visitations, conscience, common sense, the views of experts. These are in a second place, perhaps helpful in interpreting Scripture, but testable by the Bible and correctable by it, if they seem to contradict Scripture.
Our tradition, reason, and experience can be hopelessly flawed because we lived in a fallen world, and in some ways we are all fallen and subject to the outside pressures of our opinions, culture, upbringing, and pride. For the last one thousand years in particular, the churches have developed a tradition to come against Gays which has not existed in the early churches. If the bible is read with reason i.e. in context and our personnel experience relating to Gay people, we may have interpreted the bible correctly. But alas, only in recent years, have we begin to understand the scriptures correctly. Above all, it is not our tradition, reason, and experience that counts the most, it is our walk with God and guidance from Him to understand the word of God. What is written in the four Gospels is far too little to be a directive such as other religious books. This is deliberate, as Christianity is about relationship with Jesus, and after His resurrection in this present dispensation before He comes back again, it is the Holy Spirit, our comforter who will reveal deep seated truths as if Jesus was there. When we interpret the bible, it is no longer our opinion, our culture, our prejudice, our self righteousness or morality, is no longer anything of ourselves, but we come humbly at Jesus' feet being thought by the Jesus himself through the Holy Spirit.
The Council of Trent (1545-1564) confirmed the bible list of books but also placed the Bible on its list of prohibited books, and forbade any person to read the Bible without a license from a Roman Catholic bishop or inquisitor. This was perhaps a response to the reformation by Martin Luther. On October 31, 1517, Luther's theses were nailed to the door of the Castle Church as an open invitation to debate indulgences or purchasing remission of sins. The Protestant Reformers were like our modern day "activist" and challenged the absolute authority of the church. Man made traditions were taking precedence over the Word of God, and these were literally man made by the pronouncement by the Pope rather than traditions founded over hundreds of years and common practice and beliefs. Extremely repressive inquisitions with torture and deaths were established to maintain this hold on power. Ten of thousands died. In summary, the closing of the Canon was a political move necessary in order to clearly defined the bible so that it can be banned from public viewing. It was not that there was a need to stop new books being added, the books in the bible has already been well established and accepted by the known church by AD200. The Council of Trent made this official after 1400 years so that they could banned it for ulterior motives. Practically however, it "closed" naturally soon after the last Apostle died. For in it close a chapter of history of Jesus' teachings, death and resurrection, and the foundation of a new church. A thousand years later, the church has so deviated from its roots that these bible books relating back to this era was banned. After reformation, it took another 500 years to established some understanding of what Christianity meant. We need to, for our right behaving comes from right believing and Jesus is coming back for a spotless Church.
The Gay activist are the reformist of the 21 century, very much as Martin Luther was an activist and reformist opposing the Roman Catholic Church and instigating a return to biblical teachings and worship of Jesus Christ. The press machinery that Luther used to promote his teachings are now superseded by the Internet but the battle between the conservative church and the gay activist no less real. Ultimately, it is a call for the church to be holy, to cleanse itself from hypocrisy , abuse, discrimination, prejudice, and injustice which it has been the main perpetrator against gays. The majority of the population were under the heavy bondage by the Catholic Church 1000 years ago. Today, the mainstream evangelical church puts a heavy bondage on Gays. It is a call to read the word of God not by intellect, nor by reason, but that each of us may be a written exposition of what God has done in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Through the experience of gays and gay christians, the church is coming to the realization that what the Holy Spirit accepts who are we to deny into the church. The bible was created ironically as an attempt to control access and deny the public from reading it. 500 years later, have we changed much for we now deny Gays to come into the kingdom of God, hence practically denying Jesus' offer of salvation to all mankind as written in the word of God. Hence, in effect, after 2000 years, the Word of God, the Canon is still closed, still not available to all even after 500 years of printing press. By God's grace, it will be opened to all before Jesus returns and no power of earth will be able to close it.
The book of 2 Tim from Paul to Timothy was written in AD 67 or slightly later, 40 years after Jesus died and rose again. What was Paul referring to when he said "All scriptures..." for It could not have been the Hebrew bible alone that Paul was referring to. In the context of the passage, he was referring to the persecution by the Jews who came against him in 2 Tim 3:8, and had persecuted him throughout Asia Minor in 2 Tim 3:11 using the Old testament law as justification. So scriptures could not be referring to the Old testament law. What could it be? Throughout the last 30 years of his ministries, Paul must have written down the revelations that He received, collated the testimonies of the Apostles, and to carefully documented his
that all may know and follow in order to live a godly life inasmuch as in following the godly goals and plans God has for their lives despite of persecution (2 Tim 2:12). It is in the context of increasing struggles and challenges against deception (2 Tim 3:13), that Paul urges them to be steadfast in what they have learned though Paul's written teachings and be continually assured of and remember them (2 Tim 3:14) especially in relation to the salvation messages in Christ (2 Tim 3:15). Hence, the scripture Paul referring to was the testimonies of the Apostles accepted by the church concerning Jesus, and also Paul's writings of his walk of faith throughout Asia.
Will the bible of your own life be empty blank pages, of will it be a life of Godliness in pursuing God's plan even in face of adverse circumstances and be found in it always faithful, longsuffering, loving, and persevering to the end until Jesus returns. As Gay Christians, are we going to just be contented whilst the mainstream churches persecute our fellow Gay family and put them under heavy burdens, or are we going to issue a challenge that will sound through eternity to declare that there will be no more injustice done in Christ's name. Our lives may have plenty of blank pages if we are too preoccupied with debates and arguments on the fringes on Christian theology rather that seeing the bible as a revelation of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, it was a revelation of the need for a Messiah, and how the Messiah would come and its attributes. In the Gospels, a revelation of the Word of God known only in glimpses in the Old Testament now made flesh, of Jesus Himself completely known and no more a mystery. The New Testament being a revelation of the resurrected Christ full of glory and power to overcome the darkness of this world, and finally in revelation, the ultimate finale, the return of the King. It is all a revelation of Jesus, being held together intricately from the Old Testament to the New as if sewn together by the tread of God's amazing Grace and Mercy not giving mankind what we deserved, instead infinite love. The Bible is for us to know Jesus, and to follow the Apostles in bringing the good news. Let of the pages of our lives, the bible be filled with the adventures to bring the good news to Gays just as Paul brought it forth to the gentiles in Asia Minor and Rome. The first reformation brought the bible out of the closet and instituted the greatest revival and spread of the Good news. The last reformation will bring the bible into the closets of Gays that the world may know that God's mercy and grace extends to all.
How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him
Our God reigns, our God reigns