Shuck and Jive

Monday, February 21, 2011

This Blog Post is Not Based on the Bible

I found the following on James McGrath's blog.

Ouch! But if the shoe fits...

James has a fine post, Trusting the Bible Vs. Trusting Human Reason.

He speaks against an argument I find leveled against those of us who advocate for equality for LGBT people in the church. We are accused of relying on "culture" or "human reason" as opposed to the "authority of scripture."

Creationists say the same thing. A church signboard in my community a couple of years ago had written upon it:
Evolution is manmade. Creation is Bible.
One can only marvel.

James points out that no one can even read the Bible without human reasoning. Do check out his post. I find it very good. In fact, I agree with him. It is pretty obvious.

For those who claim that there was some sort of supernatural agency active in the creation of the various biblical texts, it makes absolutely no difference in regards to what one does with the texts. You still have to use reason to read it and to convince another of what you think the text "means".

All of that said, I actually find the accusation that I rely on "human reasoning" to be a compliment. Yes I do, thank you very much. For most of the decisions I need to make in life, I don't use the Bible at all. It would be rather absurd to consult the Bible for advice or knowledge on virtually anything from cars to sex to evolution.

The irony is that those who claim to be "oh so biblical" don't make decisions based on the Bible either. They just say that they do. The only time I really find people using the Bible is when they quote a verse to uphold an opinion they picked up from somewhere else.

The claim that someone's opinion is based on the "authority of scripture" while another's is not appears to me to be little more than disingenuous piety.

I am game for reading the Bible as much as my pious brethren. I preach from it on a fairly regular basis. I have several shelves of books about the Bible (some that I have even read).

But at the end of the day, I refuse to let the Bible be an excuse for not owning up to my own opinion.


  1. Man, I've had this argument so many times, but mostly don't get very far - that being that everyone is necessarily selective with regard to the Bible, and necessarily uses reason. The question being: in what way are we selective, and how well do we use reason? I agree entirely, and sometimes it feels a little lonely :)

  2. John, try this - the next time you have a problem or a question open the Bible at random and begin to read. If you "listen" to what is on the page you will find your answer. If not on the first page then the next, or the next. - Of course you may not like the answer but there will be one.

  3. Really? It will tell me how to get the podcasts on our church website to download when someone subscribes? Awesome! Thanks, Jay!

  4. @Snad, the answer is (the first verse I turned to):

    "It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved." Psalm 127:2

    It works doesn't it!

  5. Does that mean I can just forget about it?

  6. I don't know. Now you will have to use human reasoning (or not) to interpret that word from the Lord.
    : )

  7. I've also noticed that when people say "The Bible clearly teaches XYZ" that usually means "The meaning of XYZ is hotly contested, and what follows is my [human!] reasoning for thinking that it means ABC".

  8. You are in good company when you rely on human reason. God does it all the time. In fact, the Bible is the result of human reason. Of course, as human reason is provisional and always less than the perfection of God, the results of human reasoning are always provisional and less than perfect. So having relied on human reason for the production of the Bible, God now relies on human reason when it is read and applied.

    Scripture is not consistent. But God is.