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bible

"DO CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS WORSHIP THE SAME GOD?" - And 5 Reasons Why

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"DO CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS WORSHIP THE SAME GOD?" - And 5 Reasons Why

When I hear Christians rail about the differences between "Allah" and "Yahweh," I have to wonder: When did this become the kind of question you can answer with two columns of verses chosen from different books? And when did it stop being the kind of question that can only be answered in the deepest recesses of a human heart? 

The real thing to realize here is that making Jesus exclusive in the way a lot of us do does not make him greater. It makes him smaller. A tiny God for a privileged few... Essentially, if you ignore the inclusiveness Jesus models - beyond any religious or non-religious affiliation - how can you be honoring him? You are "holding the line" in a battle you were never asked to wage. You are fighting over national borders while claiming to serve the King of the Universe. And when people trumpet John 14:6 to say "no one comes to the Father except through the Son," they are missing a crucial detail... It's Jesus' call. Which means... It's. Not. Yours.

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WHAT CHRISTIANS FEAR MOST ABOUT THE BIBLE...

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WHAT CHRISTIANS FEAR MOST ABOUT THE BIBLE...

And so we find that what many people do not want to see in the Bible is anything which directs them beyond the Bible itself. This means that, ultimately, what many of us are terrified of is that the Bible might serve its own purpose. It's almost a paradoxical thing, and it's certainly a mystical and beautiful truth to consider: We cannot see the Bible for what it is until we are willing to look beyond it, and to view it through the lens of Jesus... The scriptures guide us to Christ so that Christ can guide us through the scriptures. And we do not honor them if we refuse to allow them to accomplish that purpose.  

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CONTEXT: The Space Between

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CONTEXT: The Space Between

A lot of people act like context is a special "bonus" to Bible study.

context.jpg

It's as though, when they learn from the scriptures, they believe it simply provides an added level of understanding... Modern preaching has typically misrepresented the issue, because preachers and teachers often give the impression that they can serve the text just fine without context. And bringing up a bit of it here or there, they suggest, is somehow going above and beyond what is necessary to be faithful to the text from their position. 

The reality is that context is the bedrock of understanding, and it is often the most powerful thing we have when it comes to reading clearly and groping towards interpretation. Context can disarm passages that come across as offensive, rooting them in a culture we no longer have a frame of reference for. Context can inform the revolutionary depth of passages that seem otherwise simple and uninteresting. And, above all, context is key to revealing the scandal of Jesus within first century Judaism and Roman Empire... It's context that helps us draw the parallels to our own time when we recognize that scandal. 

The point of bringing this up is simple: Bible study is a delicate and complex undertaking far more often than we have been led to believe. For every amazing contextual insight I come to understand, I'm left wondering, "How many more hundreds or thousands of passages would benefit from a similar infusion of context... and yet I will never know it?" It's staggering, really. It should humble us. (Thankfully, the WORD became FLESH in Jesus, and then promised SPIRIT to help us and guide into all truth, and that's the truly essential thing.)

But there's no getting around it. When it comes to scripture...

IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW HIGHLY WE EXALT THE INSPIRATION AND TRUTH OF THE WORDS IF WE STILL FAIL TO EMBRACE THE SPACE BETWEEN THEM.

That space between them is their context, and that context often speaks as loudly as the words themselves. 

To put it a final way... and since people love food metaphor when it comes to truth and scripture... maybe it's best to think of it like this:

Context is not the dash of salt sprinkled over the food...
It is the very soil from which the food grows.

Just something to remember. 

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Until We All Have "Clouded" Thinking...

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Until We All Have "Clouded" Thinking...

Jesus doesn't want his friends groveling on the ground in terror, or keeping him in a distant box in a shrouded tent... He doesn't want things done the old way. Jesus wants them to get up. To be fearless. And to be with him. In The Transfiguration, we see the purpose of Moses and Elijah's final appearance: to decrease and diminish as Jesus was exalted to be heard. Jesus... would not be sharing his platform with the representatives of the Law and Prophets.

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"GOD SAID IT. I BELIEVE IT. THAT SETTLES IT."

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"GOD SAID IT. I BELIEVE IT. THAT SETTLES IT."

I do think the attitude many Christians take toward scripture is unhealthy. And this seems especially true of Evangelicals. I believe our assumptions and certainties concerning what we think "the Bible says" are often getting in the way of our actually seeing Jesus in what we read. I think they even get in the way of us reading the Bible honestly, contextually, and holistically - despite the praise and reverence we lavish upon its pages. I am convinced that a lot of us are more interested in our ideas about this holy book than we are the person it's meant to be pointing us to. And I think Christian culture (and Christianese) bears witness to all these things I'm saying.

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"THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING AND POWERFUL..."

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"THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING AND POWERFUL..."

I'm going to show you something that might blow your mind.

It concerns a very popular verse in the Bible, and it certainly blew my mind - even after years of knowing (and quoting) the verse, having been raised in Christian culture. It's a simple and yet very pervasive error of interpretation. A wrong understanding which has become the dominant understanding.

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