My Friend, I do appreciate your thoughtful and well-expressed reply.
Last weekend I was listening to NPR on Sunday, “This American Life,” a segment concerning belief. A young woman, through a series of events not relevant here, was talking with a coach who had been in the news concerning faith: she had lost a good friend and wondered how God could allow that to happen. His response related to his view starting with the Fall of Man in the Garden such that sin entered the world. She didn’t find his answer satisfying. The host of the show noted that they could not agree on the coach’s premises and therefore his response could not provide either meaning or solace to her. I think that probably expresses the differences in our views that we both are aware of.
I noted some conflicts in scripture that any reading, especially a literal one, would, it would seem, have to acknowledge. Your view, as I understand it, is that scripture is completely and literally true. You say, “As regards troubling Scripture, we need to let it speak for itself and take God at His word. Scripture testifies of itself and is not subject to our judgments of it, rather we are subject to its judgments.” But that assertion does nothing to dispel the contradiction. Isn’t that like saying that black is white with the assurance, “Trust me?” Or just, “Have faith that it is so?” Nonetheless, I do recognize the authority of “love your neighbor,” “do not judge,” and “show mercy;” and, as you counsel, I do let that counsel “speak for itself.” I also take Jesus at his word that, “by their fruits you will know them.”
It seems to me that the Jewish notions that God is nameless, is the Living God, acknowledges that not only can no name confine God, neither can any book, including the Bible. It seems to me that to reduce God, and to limit God, to the descriptions and commands of the Bible is to make of the Bible and of God idols, made in inflated views of ourselves and our works, contrary to the command to make no idols. The God I believe in and worship is bigger than any system that seeks to define God and to guide or direct the worship of God.
Now, in attempting to meet the substance of your reply, while understanding that we cannot agree on the path, I wonder if the river we arrive at is the same. Are you saying that your religious convictions lead you to accept that Julian’s sexual orientation, even his operations to address the ambiguities of his physical state, are between him and God? Or are you determining that by Biblical authority he is violating God’s will, but, while it is a sin, it is no worse than your latent sinful nature? If so, how is that different from judging him? Or are you saying that, by God’s command, you would counsel that the church welcome Julian unconditionally, both into its fellowship and in any leadership he offers and qualifies to fill?
Again, thank you for your reply. It does help me to focus on what the Christian issues are in the matter, and it helps me understand the basis of other views.
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