Archive for November 30th, 2009

I was in a fun conversation recently. We were talking about counseling. The other guy wasn’t so sure he saw the value in it. I told him that I thought there was tremendous value in it. One of the greatest questions we have as humans is, “Am I Being Heard?” He agreed but then he said the statement that made me cough.

He said,

“Oh you’re right, people want to be heard. The problem is that’s all they want. Most people just want to talk, don’t ever disagree with them. That’s the worst thing you can do.  If you disagree they’ll have a conniption and get angry.  You know who the worst offenders for that are?”

I told him that I did not, and he continued.

The worst offenders are pastors! You ever known a pastor that said he was your friend until you disagreed with him.

I answered in the affirmative that I had but that was true of other professions as well.

He responded by saying,

“yeah but pastors are the worst, especially youth pastors. Question them at all about their programming and they get all riled up, and defensive. Most don’t have kids but figure they can tell you how to raise your own and the one’s that do have kids usually have younger ones. It’s never a youth pastor’s position to tell my kids to disobey me or that I stink as a parent.”

He went on to explain the situation to me. It appears that he and his son disagreed about a major life decision. The YP agreed with the son and told him that he thought the mom and dad were bad parents. When the man asked him about it the YP told him that he knew what he was doing  (apparently a theme with the YP whenever he was questioned) and told the guy that he was a pastor and his authority.  As near as I can tell by my friend who introduced us the man and his wife are excellent parents. Now, here’s my question, what do you think about his assertion that the youth pastor should never tell the kid to disobey or that his parents were bad parents?

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I think I know what the problem is when it comes to Genesis, creation, and my faith. The difference between myself and others is that I’m not static in my understanding and I’m not afraid to explore the possibilities presented by alternate points of view and interpretation. I’m not afraid to be challenged even if I happen to put up a good fight along the way. I blog because I want to learn not because I believe I have anything particularly thoughtful or original to say. I’m writing this post not as a lesson on creation or origins or hermeneutics (even though I know some will invariably go that direction and thereby miss the greater point); I am writing this post as a thought or two about faith.

“We know in part,” Paul wrote, “then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

I know what I believe; I do not know completely what I do not believe. The possibilities are endless, but I also recognize that a large part of my problem is that I graduated from Bible college nearly fifteen years ago and, to a large extent, I never quite treating the Bible like a textbook. I know how I feel about textbooks—they disseminate information, present information on beautifully illustrated pages, and give us enough giddy-up in our heads that we can create pie-charts, graphs, and systematic manuals all day long, all night long, till we are puking out information to our classmates or writing blog posts or research papers just to get it out of our minds.

One of my classes is Introduction to Special Education (ESE 500). Every week we have a 20 question test over the chapter material. Maybe we feel that way about the Bible sometimes—like there’s going to be a test at the end and if we do not get all the answers right then we will not get the credit we feel we so richly deserve after having diligently studied for the test, read the chapter, and memorized countless charts, graphs, and graphic organizers. I’m not a test taker so if there is a test, an entrance exam, I’m out for sure. I’d rather write a paper.

Scripture is not a textbook; it is a story.

I hate charts, graphs, and graphic organizers. Even in Special Education, how can I justify my making a person’s disability into a spread sheet? People are not pie charts; furthermore, passing a test is not necessarily an indicator of whether or not I know the material or whether I can do the job or whether or not I care. Conversely, the Bible is not a textbook that we should study as if there will be an exam. Nor, for that matter, is our particular knowledge or understanding of the Bible the badge determining whether or not we ‘can do the job’ (live by faith), love God (in Jesus), or love our neighbors as ourselves.

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