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Friday, January 20, 2006

My Opinion vs. God

I don’t know about other bloggers, but as my affection for blogging has grown, I started filtering news and life through the question of whether it’s “blogable” or not. I think it’s normal; preachers say the same thing about whether something is preach-able or not; musicians and politicians the same. While I think it is completely valid for Christian bloggers to blog with ‘the Bible in one-hand and the newspaper (what’s a newspaper?) in the other', I have recognize a deficiency in my blogging.

The borders between faith, tradition, and politics are sometimes fuzzy especially for the evangelical Christian who believes in a worldview integrated into every aspect of our lives. My deficiency then: If I take a position on an issue, am I suggesting that God feels the same way about it? For example, if I post that abortion is wrong. Is that my opinion or God's? And, this represents a fuzzy border: abortion is political issue with moral implications of spiritual consequence. If I'm going to defend my position on abortion, I should make it clear where my opinion begins and God's ends. I haven’t always done this; but, especially with a blog like RightFaith, I think I need to do better.

Oh, and especially within my comments. This week I contemplated getting rid of them (partly for the reasons I outlined in an earlier post, but also) because it’s my nature to rip into those whose arguments are vulnerable, often sarcastically. I try to scale back the rhetoric of my comments, then they lose qualitative value, and then I find myself posting a compromised comment that is generally off subject—‘argh,’ that’s frustrating. But, I’ve digressed.

As I sat in the hair salon this morning, thinking about blogging, I reflected on one of Erica’s comments. In reference to defining myself in traditionalists, as opposed to secular progressive, terms, she said:
Which traditions? Whose traditions? You say traditions like we're all supposed to have the same ones and know which ones you're talking about….so there isn't any such thing as a set of traditions that is unique to America. And no, your traditions are not universal, nor do they posess some magical property that makes them more special than anybody else's traditions.
Though there is a bit of ignorance in Erica’s statement, there is also a bit of common sense: defining yourself in society’s terms lacks permanence because society’s definitions change (ie. today’s Republicans look very different from the Republicans of Lincoln’s day though they share the same name).

Francis Schaffer talked about the Catholic Church’s error in elevating traditions and the papacy over the Bible because as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, the Bible acts as an external reference whose definition for morality is unchanged by contemporary standards whereas the edicts of Pope are changed, updated, and defined—though I’m inviting disagreement here—by contemporary challenges. The Bible’s unchanging status doesn’t make it irrelevant; no, it makes it trustworthy. It is going to say the same thing tomorrow as it did today; it is not going to sway with man’s shifting opinions.

Sometimes, Biblical applications are explicitly stated: do not murder. The Bible is pretty clear on the subject and only the most devout postmodernist could avoid its clear implications.

Other times, the Bible addresses issues implicitly; for example, the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that comes from the Creator is not stated explicitly. You can’t find these words in the Bible, but the principles are there from which this can be derived.

But, at other times, the Bible is silent on a contemporary subject: is the flat tax more moral than the fair tax? “And the Bible survey says…” nothing—the Bible doesn’t share God’s opinion on the subject, as far as I know, and we are left to use our understanding of morality and finance to determine American tax policy.

Sometimes, technology changes and requires a different application of Biblical principle than we had earlier anticipated. For example, using cell phones in a movie theater tops the most annoying practices list. Well, cell phones didn’t exist in Bible times, but being considerate of others like we would have others be considerate to us, is a widely known Biblical principle.

Because there are differing levels of explicitness, I think it is important to differentiate between these levels in the content addressed on RightFaith. I haven’t done this and I’m afraid that my reasoned opinions could come across as though I were making a statement from the Bible. So, I’ll do better.

Thoughtful Readers Speak:
It is difficult to take an ancient text literally. I have to give you points; this is probably your most enlightened post yet :)
JR, these last two posts have been exceptional. You can see how much thought you put in them and I really enjoyed reading them both.
The Bible is the most verified of the ancient texts BY FAR.
See, Randy, unless you don't really know what you're talking about (and I'm giving you more credit than that) that's a lie. And Jesus doesn't like it when you lie.
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RIGHTFAITH: Where everything favors the stewardship of patrimony. All content is believed to be correct but may be amended based upon new information. The content of this page may be republished with proper citation without the expressed consent of the author. This site is not, in any manner whatsoever, associated with the religious philosophism from the Indian penninsula. All comments or emails to the author become the property of the author and may be published or deleted without notice or reason provided. Copyrighted 2005.

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