Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Continuity and Commonality

I got a book for Christmas, written by a friend or maybe more precisely, a friendly acquaintance. After about three or four chapters, it seems like a pretty good book. It's Keepers of the Presence by Murray Dueck. I don't often read Christian literature any more. Most of such books are like extended sermons. That's not a bad thing per se, but I've grown up in the church and I find at forty-six, I don't need to absorb that many more sermons. I'll listen to them and even preach them when I get the chance, but it takes something fairly ground breaking for me to need to read one. Murray's book isn't that ground breaking; it's more of a practical encouragement to those who are spiritually sensitive and feeling overwhelmed by it. I know someone like that. Hope she we will like the book, because it's coming her way.

But the reason I mention the book, is it's got a mistake in it. No. Can't be. But yes, it does. Murray retells a story he's probably told a thousand times in his Samuel's Mantle teaching and he tells it slightly wrong. He talks about Elijah asking for a minstrel, and gives the bible reference. If you look it up you find that the prophet in the story is really Elisha. Interesting. A bit shocking, maybe, if you are persnickety about having all T's and I's properly crossed and dotted, (as an aside I always have liked the idea of dotting T's while I cross my I's) and I was shocked that an error like that would creep into a published work, but then I remembered that many of the sermons I have heard all my life have been guilty of similar pecadillos. I've been privileged to preach recently and I have found in moments of oratory, that I do the same thing. There's a looseness about making a point, where you make a generalization or draw on an example that might be slightly inaccurate, but the point of the message stands. And it even happens in the New Testament. Check out Mark 1:2,3 where he quotes 'Isaiah' the prophet and you find that actually the first part of the quote is Malachi. Hmm.

All of this brings me around (again) to my current bugbear, whipping boy, etc -- yes, you guessed it, inerrancy. Argument: The same Holy Spirit has been inspiring oral and written teaching and preaching throughout the ages. And those he has been inspiring have been imperfect. We don't get everything right, ever. And the idea that this group of writings called the New Testament somehow transcends that as if it was not after all written by people like us, is appallingly shortsighted, because like other cessationist doctrines, it disconnects us from ever really, completely being like them.

That continuity and commonality with Jesus' own earthly experience and later that of the apostles has become like a guiding principle for me. It's all still got to be true for this age and this time. We've got to have and be able to have all the resources they did, or the world will never be shaken the way it needs to be.

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