One of the most interesting things about moving to Texas has been the opportunity to chat with a lot of people who believe intensely.
I do not think the people who live in the Northeast metro areas and in California really understand how deep faith runs out here.
I’ve encountered a lot of people here who are “literalists”–they believe that every word of the Bible is literally true.
Their argument is, in a nutshell, that since God is omnipotent, He can do anything. Also, if there are contradictions, that is just something to take on faith, since God’s will is essentially unknowable.
A segment of these believers also believe in predestination–that who is saved and who is damned is foreordained.
One friend recently explained that I do not feel comfortable with this since I am a humanist.
I realized, too late, that this is not quite the issue, although the insight may be true.
I came to this epiphany while reading an article on constitutional interpretation.
I am not so much a humanist as I am an originalist.
I have no problem believing that God can do whatever He wants. I am sure that He can work all the miracles in the Bible and more…
However, I believe that God allows us free choice. God does not NEED us to choose Him, but WE need to choose Him. Otherwise, He would have simply saved us (or some of us if the predestinationalists are correct) rather than send His Son in human form to die for us. I think CS Lewis does a pretty good job of discussing this in Mere Christianity.
Now, on to the “originalist” issue.
While certainly God COULD engineer the exact twists and turns and political machinations and translations that have brought the Bible to us today, it seems to me more likely that He gave us this wondrous gift and opportunity and then gave us the free will so we could choose to answer His call, for our own sakes.
I believe that the Word of God, which is perfect, has been altered over time. God’s word poured through imperfect human vessels. Not so much so that it is unrecognizable, but enough that our prejudices and ignorance crept in.
It is not that I want to approach religion in a purely academic, intellectual way–solely through the disciplines of history, archeology, anthropology, etc.
The social scientist in me comes into play when people seem to want to freeze in the Middle Ages or some other period of history. I am a traditionalist–but the Church was not born in the Middle Ages, and I cannot ignore what I know of that time period.
If I could know the Church in its earliest days, then I would want to go back to that. Since I do not, though, I rely, not on history, but on faith to guide me.
I rely on the idea that if I heed God’s call, I will be able to, in my own imperfect way, answer.
Thank you for letting me share. Please feel free to share your thoughts, too.