drink & think

Tonight I went for some conversation to my school’s Beer & Theology group.  The discussion group works kind of like this:  we have beer (or non-alcoholic beverages of our own choosing), and we go around the room, each person mentioning a theological issue they happen to be pondering at the moment.  Once all have had their say, the group decides by consensus which topic we’ll pick up on, and from there, it goes where it goes.

The topic we landed on this evening was the subject of miracles and magic in the Bible.  Some were concerned that Christians tend to deride weird occurrences outside of those written about in Scripture as “magical” or as “superstition” instead of as miraculous, but they don’t judge the feeding of the 5000 (for example) in the same way.

There was a lot of interesting discussion, but it was all fairly surface-level.  One of our profs then asked what role Scripture plays in our understanding, or what point arethe Scriptures trying to make.  My take on Scripture is that, at its most basic level (if such a thing exists), Scripture is the revelation that God chooses to make to us in written format about God’s self.  Judging on that level, whether the miracles attributed to Jesus happened in “reality” is secondary to the larger point that Scripture is making, i.e. that Jesus is God.

This was merely an observation on my part, and I was just trying to answer our prof’s question, but my response didn’t go over very well.  To make myself clear, I actually do believe that the miracles attributed to Jesus did, in fact, happen in reality; however, if I were to find out that they didn’t, it doesn’t shake my faith because I still believe in the bigger Truth revealed through the Scriptures.  The reality of Jesus feeding 5000 with a few loaves and fishes is only as important as the reality of a literal farmer, who literally sowed some of his seed on the rocky soil, etc.

One might argue that the sower story was clearly marked as a parable, using a fictional but believable example to make a larger point, but what if the miracle stories are doing the same thing?  Does our faith rest on the factuality of these stories?  I would hope that our faith looks to something bigger than that.

The main critique I received was that viewing Scripture’s role in the way I describe is too reductionist.  (To be fair, I did use the word “reduce” in my explanation, but at that point I was two beers in and was really just thinking out loud.  I wasn’t carefully crafting an argument. )  I heard people saying that reality is too complex to reduce things to basics like that, but I think their critique was misdirected on that word “reduction.”  What I was talking about didn’t really deny complexity.  Hmm.

We went on from that point to discuss the meaning of “reality,” and how notions of reality are culturally constructed.  Eventually we ran out of time.

I guess what I’m writing here isn’t really that important.  I didn’t even have quite as much fun in this conversation as I did last week when we discussed demons and the “satan.”  Still, I wanted to write this down in case I want to come back to it at a later point and either expand on my ideas or to witness ways in which my thinking has grown.

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4 Responses to “drink & think”

  1. Drink & think huh? Well, that makes sense. According to the bible, Jesus knocked down a few himself. Water into wine…

    http://www.angelfire.com/co4/rjjrdq/

  2. Personally, I like I Timothy 5:23: No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.” Paul bugs me sometimes, especially with his views on women, but his advice to Timothy is great!

  3. truthwalker Says:

    I always found that incredibly odd. Same arguments when I was in school. I remember someone getting really mad at me because my argument was “Who cares? The point is not whether this happened or not, the point is what it means to the day to day challenge of being Christlike. If believing that it is an amazing miracle makes you love your brother, your neighbor and your enemy that that’s what God wants you to believe. If believing it is charming story best motivates to love those people then go for that. I don’t think God really gives two shits about your specific stance on a specific passage as long as you follow the general pattern of Christ’s life.”

    Man, did that torque some lug nuts.

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