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Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”
This blog has three main themes. The first is that God will accept anyone. (See John 6:37.) The second is that God wants us all to live lives of abundance. (See John 10:10.) The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus. (See John 14:12.)
And this thought ties them together:
In the meantime:
But the main theme of this blog is that such “markedly strict literalism” results in a closed mind. And a whole set of Christians who are only cheating themselves. And a set of Christians who are driving away potential converts “in droves.”
I’ve referred to such close-minded literalists as boot-camp Christians, or as “Comfort Zone Christians.” Yet another descriptive term could be “half-way Christians.” As in, Christians who go only half way in building up their spiritual “mansion.” They put in a foundation, as in “an underlying base or support; especially: the whole masonry substructure of a building.”
Which makes this a good time to note that the word “fundamental” comes from the late Middle English – Medieval Latin – term , meaning
But then these Christians don’t build anything on top of that foundation. That results – spiritually speaking – in something like the image at right: A “foundation,” with noting built on top of it. Or put this way:
The theory or theme here is that people who read the Bible in a strict, narrow or “fundamental” way are only cheating themselves.
(See About the Blog.) The result is that they have “perverted” the original sense of the word “fundamental;” they have altered that term “from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended.” Instead of laying a foundation, and then building a spiritual house on top of it, they’re happy living on just the foundation itself.
And they end up living a barren, “spirit-less” life, contrary to John 4:24: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (Not to mention, 2d Corinthians 3:6: “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”) Not only that, these too-iiteral fundamentalists end up – spiritually speaking – sleeping, eating and living only on a cold, concrete foundation, and thus effectively in a hole in the ground. That’s the metaphor for the day anyway…
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On a more positive note: Last Sunday, August 6, was the Feast day for The Transfiguration of Jesus, For more on that see On the Transfiguration of Jesus – 2016, and/or The Transfiguration – The Greatest Miracle in the World. One key point is that it’s arguably the “greatest miracle in the world” because – unlike the other miracles of Jesus – this one happened to Him. All the other miracles involved Jesus doing things for other people.
But the key point there is that the Transfiguration “stands as an allegory of the transformative nature” of the faith of the Bible. That is, the allegory of undergoing a “marked change, as in appearance or character, usually for the better.”
But you can’t do that if you read the Bible too literally.
The key point there is that this Mary had to undergo quite a transformation herself…
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The upper image is courtesy of Alexander Louis Leloir, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. I’ve used the image in previous posts, including On arguing with God and On “originalism.”
The image to the left of the first main paragraph is courtesy of a 2012 post by Peter Enns, the “American biblical scholar, theologian, and writer… Outside of his academic work Enns is a contributor to HuffPost and Patheos,” and is “best known for his book Inspiration and Incarnation, which challenged conservative/mainstream Evangelical methods of biblical interpretation.” The post is titled Why I Don’t Give up on Fundamentalists (including the not nice ones), and includes these thoughts: 1) “Fundamentalists are human beings and therefore are of infinite worth,” 2) “Fundamentalists are my brothers and sisters in the faith,” and 3) “Some fundamentalists are on a journey out of fundamentalism, even if they do not yet know it, and they need a place to land.”
The “‘foundation,’ without anything built on top of it” image is courtesy of Construction of the administrative building foundationszfk.ru.
The lower image is courtesy of the Marian perspectives link at Mary, mother of Jesus – Wikipedia. The caption: “The Virgin in Prayer, by Sassoferrato, c. 1650.” (Or in the alternative: “Jungfrun i bön(1640-1650). National Gallery, London.”) Also, for a thorough analysis of how the term has evolved over the years, see What Is “Fundamentalism” and Who Is a “Fundamentalist?”
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As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has three main themes. The first is that God will accept anyone. (John 6:37.) The second is that God wants us to live abundantly. (John 10:10.) The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus did. (John 14:12).
A fourth main theme is that the only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:
…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity. According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable… Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency…
So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians. They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.” But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer… (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…)
Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.” See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?” The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by “learning the fundamentals.” But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.
Also, and as noted in “Buck private,” I’d previously said the theme of this blog was that if you really want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*”
In other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.” See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001. The related image at left is courtesy of: “toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg.”
* Re: “mystical.” As originally used, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.” See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism. (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”)
For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?