Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Whole Armour of God, hermeneutics, Sola Scriptira and homosexuality

In the Epistle last Sunday we read about the whole armour of God from Ephesians Chapter 6. This discussion reminded me of aspects of that reading: the belt of truth seems to be the issue here: why would someone not want to use any method available that casts light on the Bible’s meaning and then to share what they have learned? In doing so surely they are putting on shoes that will make them ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. We are in the pursuit of truth are we not? And yet how often in the past the various institutions within the church have sought to suppress emerging understandings, emerging truths as inconvenient to its doctrines?

If we are genuinely in pursuit of the truth, however difficult and uncomfortable it may be for us, and using our understanding to proclaim the gospel of peace (as I believe TEC and ELCA have been) then surely we are also wearing the breastplate of righteousness? We are not hiding behind much loved doctrines or ways of understanding at the expense of coming to a new awareness of the incredible ways of God. Luther did not hide behind much loved doctrines or ways of understanding and he was truly prophetic in his thinking: a new awareness which stirred up the church to much needed reformation. And this he did holding the shield of faith as he trusted, against the mood of the established order, the rulers and authorities who shot their flaming arrows in plenty, in the grace and guidance of God.

I watched the vote at the ELCA churchwide assembly in Minneapolis on Youtube and I heard the Holy Spirit invoked by the delegates in prayer immediately before they voted. Were those delegates not then holding the shield of faith?

Luther recognised the spiritual forces of evil abroad in the church. He understood that even in the church the forces of darkness could be at work to subvert the gospel. We are right to assume that this is still the case and to me the gay debate is a primary example. The helmet of salvation is the word of God. I would ask those who criticise and insult me the question they ask me: whose gospel do you preach, God’s or man’s? Do you preach a gospel of God’s love to all people or do you preach a gospel of hatred and exclusion?

The answer to that question may very well be determined by the degree of willingness to learn and understand what the bible is actually saying and what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach to this generation as she continues to work in our hearts to convict us of our sins.

Is the Holy Spirit picking off the denominations? First TEC then ELCA. Who, one wonders, is next?