Monday, April 7, 2008

NT Theology makes me want to hit my head against the wall

I've been reading NT Wright's Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. So far it's been a great book: enlightening as to how heaven is portrayed in the Bible, what Jesus' resurrection means for our lives - both presently and in the future, and how we've drastically misinterpreted key passages in the NT concerning the future of our world.
It's been a good read.

Until my lunch break.

It was in reading about the parousia and the 2nd coming and escshatology that I started having PTSD symptoms. I took a class on the Revelation of John two summers ago and it nearly killed me. I can't remember the entire episode (I must have blacked out), but what I remember is yelling at my Bible prof, crying because I could not understand the resurrection at all. (I was confused because somehow there was more than one.) There was a timeline, I was on it... It's all very hazy, but that's what happened. Dr. Reeves was very concerned (and probably a little put out) and tried to help me, but I still don't really understand. Obviously.

I've decided that it's wise that I'm considering an MSW over an MDIV because I am entirely too stupid to go to seminary. I would die; seminary would kill me. I so wish I'd paid more attention in my Redford classes. What I wouldn't give to be able to sit in on Hymnic and Wisdom or Doctrine or NT Theology or Hebrews or Jesus. Man....

See? I must be some kind of sadist: this stuff makes me want to harm myself, but I still want it all the same. Gah....I'm a basket-case.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Starting Again

I've xanga-ed, I've facebooked, I've even MySpaced, so now it's blogspot time. Here I am, adding my thoughts and contemplations to the masses of people doing that same thing. It's a good outlet for the confusion I have coursing through my brain most days. It also helps that I do very little at my job. =)

Enough of the "intro"; let's get on with it. Our first topic: Inspiration of Scripture. Yes, that's right, I'm bustin' out the theological conversations. I'm not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination (just ask any of my college profs) nor do I spend a lot of time reading about histories of interp (although I wish I did). Suffice it to say, this won't be at all scholarly or as eloquent as some of the bloggers out there, but its been on my mind and heart the last couple years generally and the last couple of days specfically. So I bring this conversation to you and I hope that maybe your voice will help me sort out the muddle of my own.

In college I majored in Biblical Studies, which, even though not a marketable skill at all, I loved (almost) every second of it. Even though I loved it and loved learning and can't think of anything else I would have wanted to spend 4 years studying, it cost me no end of frustrations. At least twice, I almost recanted Jesus and walked away completely. Virgin Birth? No. Bodily resurrection? Nope. Rapture? A little. =) But mostly it was the "inconsistencies" I read in the Scriptures. During my Hebrews and General Epistles class and saw that the author of Hebrews re-interpreted the Masoretic text, I 'bout fell off my chair. Was the author being opportunistic with scripture?! What gave him/her (cause we all know it could be Priscilla) the right to mess with the MT? Granted, I have a bias towards the Hebrew text overagainst the Greek Septuagint. And don't worry, I know all the arguments for how the LXX is more reliable than the MT...blah, blah, blah. Still, I was so bothered by that. So bothered, in fact, that I met with both my Old and New Testament professors to ask them how they dealt with reading the original languages of the text yet believed in inspiration of Scriptures if they've been messed with. And it's not just Hebrew to Greek and back; it's Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English to Chinese to Portugese. There is no way to get a "literal" translation in any other language. The words can't cross over like that. And it frustrated me to the point of wanting to give up.
However, I need you to understand that I'm saying all this about inspiration, not about the effect of the Scriptures on people. I have been deeply and dramatically affected/effected by Scripture. I believe Heb. 4.12: "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." And I also believe 2 Tim. 3.16-17: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
I can anticipate your question already...."how can you doubt inspiration of scripture and then turn around and say that 2 Tim 3. 16 is true? For that matter, how can you say that any part of scripture is true?" And the answer to that is....I don't know. I feel like I'm caught in this weird place of belief and doubt and I don't know how to reconcile it. No idea. It's hard enough for it to be in my brain, much less express it aloud. It's like I know the answer - just believe that it's completely inspired by God and quit doubting, but my brain can't let it go. I know all the apologetic arguments for the Bible and they make sense. And I believe that God made Scripture useful for all people, even though it was written for a certain people, with a certain focus, for a certain time. God still uses it to penetrate us today and throughout all of time.
If I believe these things, then why do I doubt it? Why do I argue for the side of errancy when in the conversation? Perhaps it's not the topic....perhaps I just like to be on the opposite side. Because when I talk to non-believers, I'm on the side of inerrancy, bringing out the apologetical info I can muster. Maybe I'm just majorly screwed up in my brain. Not that far of a stretch, I suppose.

This old heart's been left out on my sleeve
And I have paid as it's been rent unto pieces
Seems everyone I've loved has taken a bit of my insides
I'm scattered as the woman whose body was torn for the twelve tribes

When did my heart get so petrified
When did it get so hard to feel
When did my heart get so afraid to love
When did it get so hard

And the easy-living Gnostic proud
Use their knowledge
Like a wreaking ball to tear me down
Flooding me with their fallacies
I can't walk on this water
I'm starting to drown

Strike this rock with your rod
I'll take the blows
Till your living water begins to flow
As it flowed from the Man of Sorrows' side
On that day when his body
Was torn for the twelve tribes
Torn for the twelve tribes

-"Petrified Heart" by Caedmon's Call