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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Dead German Guys Say It Well

Ran across this quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer this week. He lived in WWII Germany and was executed by the Nazi's for participating in a plot to assassinate Hitler. And he was a theologian and a pastor! Here's what he had to say...

"There remains, then, only the decision whether we will trust the Bible or not, whether we will allow ourselves to be supported by it as by no other word, in life and death. And I believe that we can only be happy and at peace when we have made that decision."

In my life, this is one place I have to come back to frequently: is it God's word or isn't it? Because if it IS God's word to us, then I had better rearrange my life to do what it says. It all starts with making the decision. Once that first decision is made, to trust the Bible, the other decisions we are faced with in life become much simpler. Not easier! But much more simple.

Thoughts?

May you find happiness and peace today through the Living Word-

Nick

5 comments:

Josh said...

I totally agree with "Dead German Guy" :) but I have a slightly tangential thought: I have struggled a long time with the Bible being "inerrant" or "infallible." In college they called it "god-breathed" but that doesn't really answer the question. I'm reading through Psalms right now and the first 45 chapters are David whining to God. It doesn't even seem like very good theology. I totally believe God teaches truth in and through His word, and its easy to set these Psalms aside as one man's whining, but the question becomes: In God's Word, how do I tell God's words from human words?

Pastor Nick said...

Josh-

For me, it is helpful to keep in mind the genre of the book. So the Psalms, in my view, were not written for the specific purpose of teaching theology. While I think we can learn theology from the Psalms, it is not the purpose for which they were written. These for thousands of years have been the prayers of the church- the honest confessions, complaints, praises and worship coming straight from the human heart. I honestly think we read things in the Psalms that are inaccurate theology- because they are meant to teach us about the human heart rather than teach us about God. Does that make any sense?

So, how do we tell the difference between God's words and human? Again, I think looking at the intent of the book and keeping passages in context is the best starting place. Thoughts?

Nick

Josh said...

That makes sense. I think the rabbit hole just scares me. If I can wipe away David's words as not impacting theology, what about Paul's words? Or James or John? How much of their intent was theology and how much was social engineering? And yet, I am uncomfortable taking the whole of scripture as an "inerrant" reflection of God because some of the human perceptions in it just seem plain wrong. I guess I'm trying to figure out how to keep scripture as a solid rock instead of the shifting sand the enemy's rabbit hole would lead me to believe...

Pastor Nick said...

Josh-

As a follow-up, I don't think we have to "wipe away" the words of David- I just think the WAY we learn theology from the Psalms is different than books of other genre (history, gospel, etc.) So, in one Psalm, David asks God to bash the babies of his enemy against rocks. Because this poetic and heartfelt prayer, I don't assume this action would be godly. I can take a step back and see from the whole of the Psalm that 1)David is angry, 2)David is taking is anger honestly to God, and 3)David is trusting in God for vengeance rather than enacting it himself. WE certainly learn theology here, but not from taking the words literally.

Maybe that's a better guide- context and genre help us determine when to take words literally and when to look for the deeper meaning that is consistent with the rest of Scripture. (Which is what I do with Paul, too.)

Glad you're wrestling with this. I've got some good books if you like to read. :-)

Josh said...

Thanks, I may take you up on that... after I get done having my spiritual behind kicked by Crazy Love. :)