Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Final Gem of Truth from Frank Schaeffer's 2013 Novel: AND GOD SAID, "BILLY!"


This post will explore a fifth and final gem of truth from Frank Schaeffer's 2013 novel: And God Said, "Billy!" Please note the SPOILER ALERT before proceeding.


On page 288 of And God Said, "Billy!" Father Tryphon asks, "Do we follow what the  bible says or what it means?" and then explains:

The underlying logic of the teaching of Jesus is that no matter what else is "in" the Bible, freedom, dignity and emancipation is the final message of faith and prophetic destiny of the human primate's evolution. . . . I acknowledge the racist teachings in the Bible implicit in the biblical endorsement of slavery and yet I override these timebound "directives" in favor of the deeper eternal and ever-evolving, ever-expanding truth that - by implication - demands that Nelson Mandela be released from prison and that I - a black man - am a full human being and that many homosexuals seeking refuge here in our community be healed of their guilt-feelings not of their sexuality and be told that they are normal, equal and welcome members of God's family.

This makes so much sense to me! The Bible contains a deep message of love at the heart of the universe, at the heart of God. That message, however, is delivered by human instruments, the writers of the Bible, so that the message comes filtered through the highly patriarchal worldview of those writers. Because the writers of the Bible saw the world through the lens of the culture in which they lived, we find that the Bible portrays God as exclusively male, envisions a hierarchical society with women subordinated to men, endorses slavery, condemns same-sex intimacy, demonizes adherents of pagan religions, and glorifies war. Some of what God is made to say and do in the Bible contradicts the core message of love. I believe that we are to use our minds and our hearts to distinguish what in the Bible conforms to the deep universal message of love and what is culture-bound.

We have abolished slavery, recognizing that its supposed endorsement by God in the Bible does not conform to the Bible's deeper message of love. I long for the day when we come to see that the condemnation of same-sex unions and any restrictions placed upon women are also contradictory to the love at the heart of the Bible. I long for the day when we evaluate any particular directive that the Bible gives by the deeper meaning that the Bible as a whole proclaims.

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