Meeting God in the Margin

Seeking Biblical Knowledge in an Age of Biblical Illiteracy

About

IMG_2036

It’s really important for a lot of reasons that I prominently display a little bit about who I am, why I’m doing all of this, and how I encourage people to use and/or receive the things I write here.

My (Lack of) Authority
It is vital for any visitor on these pages to understand that I have no formal training in theology or biblical studies. I have a bachelor’s degree in history, and my emphasis was not in the Middle Bronze Age Near East. So. My education didn’t cover the Bible, okay?  I don’t read Hebrew or Greek, I have no formal biblical training, and I most definitely have no authority to “teach” Scripture.

I am here to share and commune with fellow Christians in the Word. I have nothing to teach you, but I have so, so much to learn and share.

My (Lack of) Experience
I have been a believing Christian for 3 years.  I have been studying the Bible for a little bit longer than that.  I am new to this.  I’m good with words and I am thoroughly engaged in this study…but I am going to get things wrong.  I’m not someone you should be quoting in papers or leaning on for authority.  I’m new.  I’m still taking a little milk with my meat, so to speak.  Don’t lean on my understanding because it might be wrong.

My Denomination & Theological Alignment
I am a Lutheran, which is to say that I am a member of a Lutheran church, believe in sola scriptura, and find the statements of doctrine for Lutheranism most closely aligned with my view of things. That said, I have no other doctrinal/denominational biases that I am aware of when I come to the Bible. If I discover any, I will disclose them publicly*, and I will probably try to eradicate them. I don’t believe there is any room for factionalism in the Body of Christ.

I absolutely abhor doctrinal bickering and denominational condemnations, especially those that cherry-pick verses for the sole purpose of condemning or degrading fellow Christians. I won’t publish any of that mess in comments here, and I probably won’t even read it, so it’s best not to bother. If you believe that Jesus/Yeshua is the Messiah of the Hebrew Bible, then we’re brothers under God, and that’s enough. The rest, we can work out together with civility and love.

My View of Eschatology
I’m not a fan of dispensational eschatology, but I’m not closed to discussion of anything, either. I’m not on board with a pre-millennial rapture, but I am open to anything that may change my mind. I would take genuine delight in reading well thought-out explanations of any eschatological viewpoint if delivered in a scholarly way with good intentions. So share what you believe with me, and I will enjoy reading it.  I am still new to the Bible, so I am very open to being taught, corrected, or informed.

The truth is:  I’m not terribly concerned with eschatology.  I know it’s a subject that animates a lot of Christians, but I don’t care how it all will end.  I’m an Endwellitarian.  I believe that God is in charge, so it will end well.

My View of “Literally True”
I am not married to literalism. I read the Bible literally when it makes sense in context to do so. When it makes more sense to read it figuratively, I do that. When I cannot immediately discern which path to take, I sit on it for a while and return with commentaries and theologies later.

I believe that the Bible is true.  I believe it was written by human beings who were chosen by God and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Because I believe the Bible was inspired by God, I also believe that it is without error.  I firmly believe all of that.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that I believe the serpent in the Garden was a literal talking snake (I don’t).

I believe that ancient literature had a culture around it with a language of symbols and allegories that were understood by everyone in that time.  I believe there are a lot of these symbols and figures utilized in the Bible, and that God, in His wisdom, used them on purpose to communicate more clearly and more effectively with His people.  It does not, in my mind, diminish Scripture’s authority to acknowledge the authors’ use of imagery and figures.  You may disagree with me on that.  That’s okay.

My Motivation
I am here because I love the Bible. I am absolutely taken with it, transported by it, and compelled to study it.

I find the epidemic of biblical illiteracy in the Body of Christ profoundly troubling, so I am doing all of this for the sole purpose of spurring interest and curiosity in as many people as I possibly can. In my own small way, in my own small corner of the world, I have to try to reach out and get people back into the Bible. If someone out there in the great wide world sees something I write, and if that takes him or her to Scripture, then I am doing what I’ve set out to do.

I am also here to share my excitement and joy in Bible study. I am here to encourage others to share their own excitement, too, because I want to learn from and enter into fellowship with other Christians who are as excited about Scripture as I am.

God gave us this book, and generation after generation has preserved it for us. People have labored over it, suffered for it, and occasionally died for it. Today, we can read it for free in multiple languages and formats. We can carry it with us everywhere on our devices or buy it in published book forms of every size, color, and description. There are huge libraries of explanations and interpretations and sermons and lessons and study aids available for every question that has ever been asked about every single verse in every book of Scripture. It has never been easier or more accessible. We have no excuses. So.

Let’s read it together and see what comes of it.


* Why I Do Not Call Myself Reformed (Calvinist)
I said that I would disclose my doctrinal biases if and when I discovered them, and I have developed one.  Because of my interactions with many Reformed brothers and sisters (some of whom are dear to me and have given me tremendously valuable counsel), I was compelled to study a little on Calvinism and TULIP.  Though I found it to be an exciting explanation of how everything soteriological can come together, and though there is something utterly bewitching in a belief that God only gave some of us over to Jesus–and that one of those chosen ones is me–I have several implacable problems with the Five Doctrines of Grace.

My objections center mostly on what I believe to be a false equivalence between God allowing us to choose him (rather than conscripting us like automatons) and “works-based” salvation.  There are several distinctives that spring from the T and U that I cannot do otherwise but reject.  I will likely write more extensively about it some other day for the purpose of inviting Reformed believers into conversation with me over these subjects, but it will require its own article (or series of articles).  Like all issues of philosophy, nobody can “sum it up” in a small space, which is one of the problems right there from the off.

Aside from what I perceive as some scriptural inconsistency within Calvinism, there is also the problematic and rarely-discussed prevalence of cold, arrogant, and loveless dogmatism amongst Reformed believers.  Not all of them.  Not all groups of them.  But enough of them that you find it everywhere Reformed Christians gather in large numbers.  In the wilds of online Christian culture, it is widely known that one should stay away from the Reformed forums unless properly steeled and girded against unkind words beforehand.  That should give all of us pause.

Jesus says that the nations are to know us by our love.  He also says to love others as we love ourselves.  Neither of these endeavors get much visible exercise in majority-Reformed spaces.  The Reformed community even acknowledges this with the widely-used term, “cage phase,” which refers to the period of zeal when new converts “should be kept in cages” to prevent their words of condemnation and intolerance from causing harm to the body of Christ.  How very cute, right?  Well, I don’t find it funny, cute, or amusing.  It’s frankly horrifying, and it calls the entire belief system into question when this is a fruit it produces.  If this is what Calvinist regeneration looks like, why would anyone want to be anywhere near it?  The body must address this.

The Church in Ephesus is given dire warning in Revelation about losing their love in the pursuit of correct teaching.  This should not be lost on us, and it should bring us all back to the table in humility.  We are not to indulge our academic hubris and lock ourselves in ivory towers away from the unwashed masses.  We are to be one.  We are to project from our lamp stands the unified light and love that God the Son and God the Father share.  So.  I am an evangelical Lutheran, and I shall remain one until and unless the Lord leads me elsewhere.

%d bloggers like this: