Okay, back to the slippery slope ....our musings about the inerrancy of the scriptures. When we begin to question which scriptures might be inspired and which ones are not...we seem to be fulfilling the common fundamentalist "slur" about picking and choosing.
My thoughts have been spurred on by many influences during the course of writing this series, including a conversation Keith and I had and, as is usually not the case, we agreed on quite a bit. I invited him to write his thoughts down so I could post them here. In the meantime, however, back to the Quaker article I mentioned in my last post.
For Quakers, the Bible is a declaration of the fountain, the Spirit, and not the fountain itself. Therefore it is not the principal ground of truth; direct experience of the Spirit is the principal ground. The Bible may give secondary guidance, but even to read it properly we need to read in the Light of the Spirit.
Okay...two thoughts here. First of all I am reminded about the finger and the moon thing. A story I came across on the internet:
The nun Wu Jincang asked the Sixth Patriach Huineng, "I have studied the Mahaparinirvana sutra for many years, yet there are many areas i do not quite understand. Please enlighten me."
The patriach responded, "I am illiterate. Please read out the characters to me and perhaps I will be able to explain the meaning."
Said the nun, "You cannot even recognize the characters. How are you able then to understand the meaning?"
"Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?"
And how about the following quote from De Mello:
As we say in the East, 'When the sage points to the moon, all the idiot sees is the finger'.
Ahhhh....yeah...okay....I get the gist of that...see the implications and similarities to those who cling to total literal inerrancy of the Bible.
Back to the Quaker article....
Second, for Quakers, the Bible is the record of others’ encounter with the divine, of the Spirit as it spoke through others. It is the record of revelation, not Revelation itself.
Quakers believe in ongoing revelation; if Spirit spoke through others in the past, why should that process have ended? Friends’ experience is that that process is ongoing, as Spirit continues to inspire our words and actions.
Sort of like the catch phrase for the United Church of Christ...."God is still speaking."
Which reminds me....I visited Beliefnet this weekend and there was a post on the Christian to Christian message board about the Bible. The guy who started the post was in the opposite ditch of Biblical literalists. He found little if any value in the Bible. I felt moved to respond....and this is what I said:
I think it is just as misguided to claim that God DOES NOT/CAN NOT/ WILL NOT speak to us through the scriptures...the Holy Bible....as it is to say that he can ONLY speak to us through the Bible.
God has said plenty to me through the Bible...which is ever alive and ever new upon each reading. However, I have heard him speak through other writings, old and new, secular and holy. I have heard him in the lyrics of a song, the script of a movie, conversations with others...sometimes unbeknownst to them....and I have heard his still small voice speaking in the depth of my heart. There is a Christian denomination (United Church of Christ?) whose tagline is, "God is still speaking." Which begs the question...are we listening?
I heard a quote a long time ago that stuck with me...and I paraphrase it here since I didn't actually write it down at the time.
You can read the scriptures in the King James Version, the Concordant Literal or the original languages but unless you read it "in the spirit" you will never hear Abba speak.
More on all of this tomorrow....