Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where's your marker?

He said to me, "If I can't believe this is true, then my faith won't have any traction. It will all be for nought." He was talking about a particular passage in the Scriptures. It sounded legalistic to me. I challenged it and now he had painted himself in a corner.

I'm not sure if he's right or wrong in what he believes but this exchange made me think. "What is the one thing that has to be true to make our faith count?"

Another member told me his several years ago. He said that for him it was the truth of the resurrection. If Christ hadn't risen from the dead then everything else we believe is all for suspect. I've thought about that over the years and I agree.

I remember my first week in seminary. I came back to my room from my Intro to New Testament class. I was in tears. My professor suggested the Matthew, Mark, Luke and john may not have written the four Gospels attributed to them. That shattered my world. I didn't know it back then, but I was a fundamentalist. I was a literalist. If the book says it was written by Matthew then it had to be written by him. I remember asking my self what I had gotten myself into. Why had I come to this place?

In the ensuing weeks I learned a lot about literary criticism. I came to understand that in an oral society, it was common for stories to be handed down from one person to another until finally, someone decided it was so important that it needed to be written down and preserved. I had to re-evaluate what I needed to believe in order to maintain my faith.

When it comes to scripture I no longer need to believe that every word was God breathed to a particular person whose name is on the book. I believe the Holy Spirit works through people to give us the truth that God wants us to know.

Faith is a process. We grow. We come to new understandings. That's why today I hang my hopes, not on a particular passage of scripture, but on the cross and the resurrection. Jesus died for my sins and set me free and in the resurrection he showed us that his promises were true.


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