For a while, just to keep my sanity, I’ve kind of held the opinion that the Old Testament is not a bunch of stuff we are supposed to do, but that it’s history, poetry, and a record of the Israelites. Kind of like, Proverbs is not a book to live by, it’s a book full of wise sayings and teachings ( some of which to a specific person, mind you), not stuff you’re SUPPOSED to do. (Have I mentioned I hate lists of rules and supposed-to’s?)
But it kind of occurred to me last night…and I know I’ve been told this as well, but really, most of the books of the new testament are letters to specific churches who had specific problems. In Corinth, there was a lot of sexual immorality, so they were written a letter talking about that. Not saying that these aren’t good things even if they weren’t written to us, or to me personally. But really, isn’t everything supposed to be in context?? Isn’t taking what Paul says to the Corinthians, for example, and applying it to my life, saying “I HAVE to do this because the Bible says”, taking it out of context?
Basically what I’m trying to say is, the letters written to the churches are guidelines not rules. Like Proverbs. Well, not even “guidelines”…more like “apply these if need be, or if you want, but don’t say this is The Way”. I mean, isn’t it kind of legalistic, as well, to take everything ever written to the churches and say We Have To Do This?
Also in thinking about this, and in light of this post [blog shut down…basically the post was that there are different teachers for different needs…some may need Rob Bell, some may need John Piper], I kind of wonder if the debate between predestination and free will couldn’t be cleared up right here. Such and such church needed to hear about predestination; these other people over here needed to hear about free will. Does that make sense?
So people would say “but the Bible says it’s God-breathed and profitable for correction, reproof, etc, blah blah blah”…but if you think about it…what that writer was talking about was what we call the Old Testament. And he didn’t mean they were supposed to keep following the Law either! (And after all, it WAS men that decided what would be included in the canon. The “New Testament” wasn’t around when he said that…it was still being written!)
Pretty much what you’re left with is the Gospels, namely, what Jesus said. If you ask me, following what Jesus said is a hell of a lot easier, less legalistic, and more childlike (didn’t he say “come to me like a child”?). And basically what Jesus said was “love God, love your neighbor”.
That, I can handle.
(And no, I’m not trying to “pick and choose” and find a “palatable” gospel. I’m trying to get back to the basics of what is actually necessary, and throw off what’s not.)
Something else I’ve always wondered is…isn’t it in a parable Jesus says “well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your lord”? Why does everyone take that to mean that’s what Jesus says when people get to heaven? Not saying he doesn’t; I have no clue. But still, that was a parable, not a definitive truth of God. Parable = allegorical story, example, analogy…not gosh-darn truth.
So yeah, kinda my rambly thoughts for now.