“A simple lay person armed with scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it.”
How highly controversial! Scripture alone is enough. Scripture is self-authenticating, clear, its own interpreter, and sufficient as the final authority of Christian beliefs. The idea is that whoever bases their faith on scripture, whoever seeks guidance and answers in scripture, doesn’t need anything or anyone else and will never be disappointed.
This concept of scripture alone or sola scriptura was introduced by the same man who said those words in the beginning of this article: Martin Luther, the German reformer who saw so many flaws in the Catholic Church of the 15th century that he simply had to speak against it. His idea that scripture alone stands in the center of an individual’s striving for and learning about God was eagerly adopted by many and eventually also by the younger evangelical denominations in the United States. To this day it is a key principal of many conservative Baptist and Lutheran churches and all those who call themselves “bible-believing”. I firmly believe that indeed, the bible is God’s love letter to us, his children and all the guidance and nudges we need to come closer to this love are right there in scripture. So yes, I call myself bible-believing.
Wait. How can a progressive Christian who is living in a same-sex marriage be bible-believing? How can someone like me adopt the same term as conservative Christians? Do I believe that my sexuality is wrong, that my wife is an abomination? Of course not. Then why does my hand not tremble when I write: “I believe in the bible.”?
Continue reading “Bible-believing Bisexual?!”
The sun is shining on this warm Sunday afternoon in Texas. We are sitting on the porch. Me, my wife Lisa and the old men watch the barn swallows and admire the irises. And as always we share communion. Not everybody has the privilege or the ability to visit a church whenever they feel the need. These two gentlemen don’t. They have a hard time leaving their houses as it is. Nevertheless, communion is important to them. My wife says a short prayer. My eyes are closed, my face warmed by the sun. It’s a good day in good company. Then the older of the two men, let’s call him Jack, a veteran in a wheelchair and with a cowboy hat prays out loud, too. First I smile at his words and then, one by one, they begin to choke me until I feel tears in my eyes.
“All I can say, Lord, is that I am yours. All those years I tried so very hard to be righteous but all I did was exclude and hurt people. That is not love. It is not what you want. I am yours, Lord and I am so very sorry.”
For years my wife and others have visited one of these men and brought him communion because he couldn’t make it to church anymore. And for a long time Jack, who lives just across the street has watched that, not sure what was going on. Grown up and highly active in one of the rather fundamentalist churches, he was suspicious. What were those gay people doing? How could they pretend to be Christian when the bible clearly says that they are an abomination?
Continue reading “In the words of a fundamental Christian: “I am so sorry!””
God does not talk to me.
I don’t pray about things, I think about them. For me the Holy Spirit is an abstract idea, someone who is mainly present in worship situations. I never raise my hands and I never pray together with others, standing in circles, out loud. On the contrary, I believe that I don’t have to pray about, or even pray for things because God will provide what is good for me and lead me on the best path anyway.
And then I came to the United States where everything is different.
God talks to my wife. Sometimes, she says, she can feel a “quickening” in her heart and she becomes very still and listens. She and all of her Christian friends pray about things before they make a decision. On Sundays they are so moved by the Holy Spirit, they often raise their hands in worship. They call each other brothers and sisters and stand in circles to pray together… out loud.
Am I less religious than my wife? Continue reading “Scary Diversity – When I found out how backwards I am”