‘Scripture is authoritative and clear’…was something I heard in conversation recently and had to pause then decide to challenge!
Well, challenge half of it anyway. We were talking about tricky issues such as homosexuality and there appeared to be an assumption from some that, if we would only read our Bibles thoroughly, there’d be no problem knowing what God thought on any issue of today.
I do think the Bible has authority and I want to try and live by it, but I’d say that even evangelicals have changed their minds over the centuries about what the Bible says about many issues – women teaching men or slavery just to name two.
So what’s that got to do with Pentecost? God didn’t leave us his written word and expect it to be an easy-use manual with step-by-step instructions. It’s a narrative – a story of God’s relationship with human beings over millennia – to which we look to see God’s character.
And we are also given the Holy Spirit to help us apply our rational thought and experiences, with prayer, to humbly try to discern how God wants us to live. So I would say there are few clear answers in Scripture and it’s hard work working things out sometimes.
Recently in church, one of our discussion group questions was something like, ‘Which issues do you think church leaders are not clear enough on?’ I had presumed that certain issues would come up but not so. Maybe we’re still not at ease enough about handling our bibles when it comes to the really challenging stuff?
I hope we can be a church where real honest conversation can happen about the trickier issues in life; not always to resolve them and come to agreement, but to learn to live and worship with and accept those who differ from us, showing that the Holy Spirit enables unity in our common salvation and that the face of Jesus is to be found even in those we disagree with.