And yet, I believed God to be larger than my own myopic view... larger than my epistemological or ideological ideas I had constructed about Him, His Word, and around my faith... and larger than the restrictive boundaries I had raised to wall off a disbelieving world out-of-covenant, and out-of-time with my idea of God and biblical faith. Or so I believed, until deciding that with what remaining years I had left I should at least attempt a small reprise to the doctrines I grew up with for the several years His Spirit might grace my soul with passion and discernment in this area. Allowing my mind and heart to reconsider each doctrine in reconstructive renovation within a broader interpretive range of ideas not only biblically-generated, but extra-biblically-generated as well. Not merely using the biblical hermeneutic of contextual, grammatical, historical interpretation as discourser to biblical anatomy, but by allowing non-biblical sources to inform as gained from the ideas and discoveries within science, philosophy, public opinion, and even from other religions. To me, God is within the world that He created. He has not been excluded from it. And by listening to this world it can better inform the biblical reader to God's incomprehensible heart and intent.
This does not mean that the Bible is less regarded. Nay, on the contrary. I wished to have a Bible that was richer, fuller, bearing the knowledge of the ages to its berth of wisdom and direction. Not just from my own branch of religious opinion, but from the many branches of insight and discovery left too long dormant upon the steps of the church in disregard, if not abject dismissal itself. Whether from the realms of the philosopher, the archaeologist, the behavioral scientist, the political scientist, the sociologist, the chemist, the Imam of Islam, the Rabbi of Judaism, the Buddhist monk of the East - even the man on the street in his wisdoms and observations. If God's Word was to speak to all of us it had to come from all of us - in all of our own settings, dispositions, reliefs, cultures, customs, traditions, and meaning. It was not the exclusive property of any one branch of the church or religious society. It had to tell us who we are by opening our minds and hearts to what we think and believe. The age of the Internet has caused this awareness. The age of travel, technology, and interlinked global communications is to blame. To do less is to refuse knowing God's gracious heart and mind. This is God's world that He has given to us to enjoy with one another as with Himself. As such, He has something to say about it and we must do better at listening to Him speak through ancient biblical records become irrelevant should we lock down its hoary words to our own stylistic preferences and biases.
In my opinion, this personal reconstruction lay long overdue while the more important operations of supporting and raising a family and business took my time and energy. Moreover, I overly relied on my evangelical faith to do the job for me with its bastions of scholars, academicians, preachers, teachers, missionaries and evangelists. But lo-and-behold after 35 years the evangelicalism I knew and loved had simply fortified its walls and laid waste upon the disbelieving world around it... proscribing a Jesus who served with conditions and threats of damnation lest any not abide to the evangelic doctrine trumpeted by my faith (however, and whatever, that has now come to mean in this day-and-age). And while I blithely, if not ignorantly, went about the business of living and supporting church ministries, the church in its structures and organizations drew away from the world in which I lived as if it were an evil thing, unholy and unblessed, by the God who created it. Who loves it. Who gave it life. Who died for its sins and daily death. Who seeks to bring to it healing, presence, blessing, wholeness, and life. As such, I believe its time to knock down a few religious walls and allow in heaven's celestrial airs of freedom and redemption, liberty and light, that move heavily around us though we know it not by our evangelical faith become too restrictive to comprehend. Calling for dismissal to those who dare speak up about violence in the OT; for removal to those evolutionists that dare breathe God's name into this unholy science; for anathema upon the heads of those advocating the rights of gays and lesbians; who might preach a gospel where God's love wins rather than a gospel of hell and electorial exclusion.
And after listening for-a-dozen-or-so-years to emergent Christians revisioning a Jesus faith of love and mercy, peace and goodwill, to local ministries and global missions, I thought I too should join in and try loosening a few bricks of the sturdy Berlin-like wall my insular faith had built around itself through its popularized books, media enterprises, missions, films, TV shows, pulpits, churches, and schools. And so, Relevancy22 has been produced to lay a groundwork for direction and discussion.... Probing with questions and statements ideas foreign to those doctrines and dogmas that I had grown up with.... Perhaps wandering towards neo-orthodoxy on the one hand, and liberal evangelicalism on the other hand. Trying to find that middle ground of faith expression that would allow in a brighter shaft of light, and the fresher air of the gospel, through the Spirit-window of inspiration and grace, illumination and mercy. A Spirit-window that could allow in a personal renewal of belief and re-commitment to the faith of the God of the Bible by first destroying all sure ground around it. Unconcerned with protecting God but more concerned with not protecting my windowless religion and faith. To allow in consideration of foreign ideas, thoughts and expressions without jumping in horror to every biblical fallacy and misdirection presented. To be wise enough to discern direction so that the Gospel of our Lord could be heard again by a foreign people reacting to my religion and not to my God. To destroy the evangelic walls of dissembly, its distance from society, its retrenchment from the world, and allow in the foreigner to the blessed lands we never were to hold for ourselves. This is the biblical faith. One that is shared but also one that communes with others in an amazing world much larger than our own constructs of it. To hear of God's Word from an Eastern perspective, a Muslim perspective, a Jewish, or scientific, or philosophic perspective, and not simply our Americanized, modernistic, secular perspective.
And well that it has... for once the foundation of biblical literalism was revisited I knew at once that a truer hermeneutic more-in-line-with my now reconstructed orthodox faith - and not my older evangelic faith - must be reconstituted as one that addressed postmodern societal angst and ideological deconstruction should ever Jesus be heard again from the Scriptures beyond the sieves of mine own dogmatic preferences. I needed a relevant Gospel that was more contemporary to societal needs. More accurate with the discoveries of surrounding scientific disciplines. More personalized to the human condition and narrative story of redemptive evolution occurring across all stratas of cultures and customs. And more receptive to the human story of defeat, sorrow, pain, destruction, woe and failure. A faith that when shared seemed reasonably attune with contemporary, global, society today - and less out of tune with the secular modernism and harsh judgmentalism I had been raised within. One that was in-time and in-place and not out-of-time and out-of-place. A gospel from God and not a gospel from man.
So that, in Brian Malley's opening quote we find a truism that in order to grow in Christ and in His Word we must learn to reopen our minds and hearts in how we would read the Bible and understand its authority for ourselves within not only our own daily lives, but for the world at large. If not, we are left with a religion-of-walls like Jesus had encountered in His day... with Scribes and Pharisees that held the bastions of religion so legalistically and fearfully tight that they neglected to see in Jesus God's imprimatur of Himself as the Son of Man, their Savior - who was their Life, their Light, their Law, and their Lord.
Let us not repeat this same mistake made so easily (and repeatedly) over the past 2000 years of church history by allowing the monarchs and civil magistrates of our faith to decide for us. Nay, let us bear some responsibility for it's pronouncement in ourselves by questioning our assurances and being more willing to reassess what we have heard with what we know. Not in displacement of the Bible but in replacing our misdirected ideas of the Bible with ones more accurate and less filled with personal dread and fear. And for any who wish to join with me, I submit all past articles written over these past several years, as various testaments to my pained questions, renewing vision, and restorative faith, for examination. It has been a long journey that required a newer, meatier gospel than the one I followed. Thank you in joining with me on this journey of faith and enlightenment, prophetic announcement and spiritual healing to the One who has come to heal the wounds of our lands, the rifts between nations, the dark hatreds we hold with one another. It was never meant to be ever so, even now in this Age of Grace and Mercy, Love and Forgiveness, Peace and Assurance.