How Christians are destroying the reverence for the bible
Christian Unions in Exeter, Birmingham and Edinburgh have been prohibited from using university faculties and in some cases from being recognized as a club because of alleged discrimination towards non-Christians and gay people. At Edinburgh University, a course looking at orthodox Biblical teaching on relationship, sex and marriage has been banned from being taught on campus because it recommended literature on “ex-gay“ therapy. The Students' Association claimed the Pure course was homophobic, and breached the SA's and the universities anti- discrimination policies. Edinburgh students quickly began the protest online at the student social-networking website Facebook. The "Stop PURE" group page states: “ a Group aimed at gathering all those who are clear minded enough to see that the Christian Union's PURE course, aimed at "curing" homosexuality, is a derogatory and degrading course, with literature that is insulting and bigoted towards homosexuals and anyone else who doesn't take the bible literally.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has condemned the suppression of Christian unions in some universities, arguing that trying to ban them because of their traditional views on homosexuality was like trying to ban the Campaign for Nuclear disarmament. However, for the gay community, whilst nuclear weapons are proven to be destructive, their views against Gays are unfounded and subjective based on homophobia.
In his first intervention in the debate, Dr Williams said that it was becoming impossible for traditional Christians and Muslims to state their views without being accused of something “akin to holocaust denial or racial bigotry”. Dr Williams seems to be aligning with the Muslims, many whom has indeed denied the holocaust and are supportive of terrorism. Meanwhile in Colarado Springs, the Rev Ted Haggard begins his restoration therapy to eliminate same sex desires led by the Rev Jack Hayford, and Tommy Barnett. These are two well known writers and pastors, leaders in the Christian community.
When we misused the truth, the Word of God, and distort it to condemn and judged gays in a most unreasonable manner, we too will ultimately subject ourselves to be judged in the same manner. The antagonism between the Christian Union and the rest has always been there. Not recognizing the union is a clear violation of the rights and free speech of the Christians to practice their faith. However, these are special rights when compared against the basic rights and freedoms of Gays which they have hitherto denied. Therefore the same unfair measure they used against gays, have become the measure that others will used to judge the Christian Union and inevitably the church. Their discrimination has gone a full cycle back to them and this is just the start of an ongoing push to limit Christian Outreach despite the fact that many of their beliefs are legitimate and bible based. The ultimate injustice led by key Christian leaders such as Jack Hayford and Tommy Barnett is the restoration therapy for the former Rev Ted Haggard. The long term harm and doubtful biblical basis for such therapy is akin to torture. They are setting the church up for their own restoration therapy where the church will suffer persecution and prejudice (the same manner that they have treated gays) that they might be restored to a Gospel faith of Grace and Mercy and not hypocrisy and law.
The bible we have is a sacred word of God. In the 2 Tim, it is not only the Old Testament scriptures that it is referring to, but to ALL scriptures including that of the Christian scripts. For the apostles have now made records of the events that have happened and these have become the reference standards of accounts concerning the birth and death of Jesus Christ, the coming of the holy Spirit and the growth of the early church with signs and miracles and their struggles to overcome the Jewish Laws. It was a totally new theology for which these “new” scriptures would give new doctrines (based on the foundation of the Old Testament) which leads to correct or right living with God working in our lives leading to works that bear kingdom fruits. The New Testament gives meaning, fulfillment and conclusion to the Jewish Old Testament and hence to be considered similarly inspired by God as that of the Old Testament for the early Jewish Christians. For the Jewish Christians, the gospels become entwined and one with their Jewish scriptures. There is no separation of the scriptures of the Old and New for the early Christians, it became part of the scriptures they have known.
The bible has a public face, it is represented by two major groups, the evangelical Christian right and the Catholic Church. To the world, their theology seems to be derived from a fundamentalist or literal interpretation of the bible. Hence, the bible is seen as the real culprit and the name of God and the Gospels are devalued. The incorrect beliefs are not caused by a literal interpretation of the bible i.e. that the events recorded in the bible are historically factual and not metaphoric or Jewish tales. The bible should be interpreted in view of the sequence of events, in view of the intended recipients, social, religious, and the historical context. Applying the bible wholesale without seeing whether it is truly applicable in our context (as we were not the intended original recipients), brings us to bad interpretations. For example, the Law was given to the Jews. We see how the Jews failed, and how Jesus came to fulfill its requirements, and the struggles faced by the early church to have a paradigm shift to the dispensation of grace and mercy. The Old testament are not the only scriptures referred to by 2 Tim. Yet, the churches of our day read the Old Testament and apply it as though the New Testament does not exist. In judging gays, the Christians have been hypocritical as they themselves do not follow the law, and also grossly misinterpreted the bible bring discredit to the name of God and the authority and relevance of the bible. Hence, Christians are destroying the reverence for authentic the Word of God by trying to put old wine into the new wine skin.
The Word of God is given to all. It is not special knowledge for a privileged chosen few like the Gnostics claimed. The Word comes to all in parables because the truths contained within can only be unlocked in the journey of seeking God when one becomes connected to Christ, to be on the “inside” so to say. The answers are “simple” but understating is neither simple nor easy. It takes faith and a walk with God just as the disciples walked with Jesus, the God incarnate. Just as the disciples received revelation of the parables, we too received it from Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. The key to understand the bible is a strong connection with God through the Holy Spirit. The infilling of the Holy Spirit or Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a means to energize this connection to God when we accept and open up our hearts to be filled with the Holy Spirit much alike the widening of a road to receive more of God. Salvation gives us access to Jesus. It is up to us to make it to a super highway, a living relationship with God.
Whosoever has the heart to love God, to seek the truth and accept the word of God into the hearts by faith just as they are without adding or rationalizing the word according to his/her prejudice, they will bear the fruits in their lives of God’s redemption and new life of victory over sin. Some have thought the bible too simplistic (no easy answers) and like the Jewish religious leaders could not accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Others are still bound by following laws and insistence on outward morality. They had a fixed concept of God contrary to the scriptures despite being religious experts. When Jesus came, they missed their opportunity to see God. They missed the moment in place and time that many of the prophets of old like Isaiah have prophesized but did not manage to see the coming of the son of God nor had the opportunity to see Jesus speaking to them in person. What a great opportunity did the religious leaders have missed! They had the scriptures, they should have known. Instead of bearing fruit of a new creation life as children of God through Jesus Christ, the missed the 33 years Christ had on the earth to teach them on Kingdom truths. Whatever they had been taken away from them by Satan and did not reach their hearts because they tried to use their minds, their intellect to understand the bible (Mat 13:19).
The heart of the bible can be understood best from a perspective of a discriminated group. The New Testament Bible was written from a Jewish Christian perspective, i.e. a twice exiled group. The Jewish nation as a whole was alienated from the other people’s groups in the world. The Jewish Christians were further alienated from the Jewish community as they were considered as a heretical sect. Similarly, gays are discriminated and rejected by society as whole, and gay Christians are further estranged from the gay community because they are viewed as siding the Christian community who has been the main antagonist of gays. Being despised and “excommunicated” results in great humility, understanding, and meekness and suffering when taken with a godly spirit.
Christianity has become the domain of the rich, and powerful, the majority, and the privileged. Through this set of foreign glasses, the truth can be misconstrued and misused as a tool to against gays. Yet, the truth will prevail in love. The Jewish Christians under incredible odds did manage to spread the gospel message to the rest of the world who had rejected them. I believe that in the last days, history will repeat itself and Gay Christians as the “modern day Jews” will influence to church to become more inclusive and to return to a biblical faith to focus on the Gospel of God’s grace and mercy instead of legalistic laws and self righteousness which has hitherto plagued the Protestant church for the last 500 years.