>On Brain Expansion and Christian Truth

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I have been mulling over how to express the bajillion thoughts in my head all week.  The amount of hearing, reading, learning and processing I have done this week far exceeds what is normal for me.  The problem is that I’m not done processing everything, not even close, and I’m one of those who doesn’t like to write things down until I’m confident of my opinion and how best to share it.  This is an awkward feeling for me, to be reluctant to speak out about things because enough has been said already in the blogosphere and because I’m already feeling the judgement of people I love and respect.  But I’m not ever short on opinions, they just have a tendency to evolve when I’m least expecting it!  I warn you, I will ramble on here.  Feel free to just skip this post if you like, writing this is more for my own benefits than that of my audience. 🙂

What the heck am I talking about?  Two issues mainly, and they are interconnected and pretty foundational to me.  The both deal with Biblical truth.  The first is a firestorm that erupted this week when John Piper, one of my favorite teachers, posted a video about whether or not it is biblical for women to work outside the home.  It was actually not a bad video, describing how the question really is a new one, and that working arrangements for women have changed and are rapidly continuing to change.  But he did say that it ought to be discouraged.  So both “camps” posted and commented and posted some more about the topic.  Here’s a very incomplete list of somewhat related posts:

Jesus Needs New PR 
Like a Warm Cup of Coffee
Emerging Mummy
Nicole Wick
Rachel Held Evans
Micha Boyett-Hohorst
Jessica Turner
Joyfully At Home
The Run-A-muck
Elizabeth Esther
Serena Woods
Some of Life’s Posies

So anyway, if you know me, you know I’m conservative and my theology would normally be described as such.  I grew up in an evangelical home and went to a evangelical school.  I do believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, inerrant and authoritative.  So why do I suddenly feel myself being thrust to left? Judged, as it were? Because as much as I value and believe in the absolute truth of God’s word, I find myself valuing grace as well. Not more than truth, just in addition to it.  I think a lot of well-intentioned people are misunderstanding or at least mis-using the term grace.  I hear this “Yeah, God’s standard is this, you aren’t meeting it and therefore sinning…but OH here’s some grace with that judgement.”  What?!  Some things in the Bible sound pretty cut and dry as I read them.  Some things simply do not.  I have read and believe everything in Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 a hundred times.  I simply don’t agree with what one phrase “busy at home” “keepers of home” or “working at home” is being interpreted.  You may be surprised to hear that this has nothing to do with my view of how God created and ordered man and woman and our roles…I agree with the concept of gender roles and male headship…in the home and in the church.  But I choose to work, I send my kids to daycare/school and I do NOT believe I am outside God’s will or plan for how everyone should live.  My own situation is personal, has nothing to do with being selfish, and I think it’s wrong to go around calling out other women for how they tackle the role of “mother”.  I don’t feel like I need to defend the whys and hows and details of my life to my sisters in Christ, and I don’t believe I need your “grace” in this situation.  We can’t read the Bible completely outside of it’s, OR OUR, cultural context.  I do believe that what it says is relevant to us today, but it must be interpreted.  I do believe in “sola scriptura”, and a literal interpretation of the words, but it is still written through the perspectives of its writers. 

That brings me to the second issue.  The Bible is not a science book.  There is a lot of science found within it, but of course there is a lot that isn’t.  I’m taking a class at my conservative evangelical church called “Making Sense of God and Science.”  I probably have the most science and math in my background besides the teacher, who is a physicist.  I LOVE science and math.  Math is the language God used when he wrote the laws of the universe.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not worship at the alter of science.  But reading Genesis 1-3 and then studying the natural creation is a bit confusing.  My class is digging deep into hard science and I love it…this past week we discussed astrophysics…Einstein’s theory of relativity, the curvature of space, quasars and Dark Matter.  It thrilled me.  There are a whole lot of problems with the answers that the atheist academic science community have given.  But I’m still not seeing enough answers for me to draw a firm conclusion on how Genesis 1-3 should be interpreted.  And I like that…my brain is expanding, I’m asking more questions than finding answers, and I LOVE that.  Questions, not answers, are why I chose science as a profession.  Finding out how much we don’t know is so much more interesting to me than what we do, or what we think we do. 

I’m a learner, a student.  This week I am excited by all the new perspectives I am reading, and all the pondering it is forcing me to do.  But I’m still saddened by the divisiveness I see in the body of Christ.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. >Sorry to hear you have stumbled across the "dark side" of well-meaning Christians: the tendency toward being judgey of others, and of using the Bible to give weight to, and legitimize, their judgeyness. This is, alas, something I run across on an almost daily basis, and on more than one occasion has caused me to reconsider my own faith.I have, myself, come to realize that the Bible is *not* a science book, but is rather a history/sociology book. Specifically, the tradition/history of a tribe, descended from Abram/Abraham, from the time of Abraham until shortly after the death of one of his descendants, Jesus of Nazareth. As such, large parts of the text (I'm thinking most of Leviticus and Deuteronomy here) are applicable to that tribe (which we know today as the Jewish people), and are of interest to the rest of humanity more from a historical perspective than anything else (otherwise, Christians would be every bit as opposed to, and pushing for laws criminalizing, the eating of shrimp, lobster, and shellfish, as well as the wearing of mixed-fiber clothing.)With respect to this particular issue (women working outside the home), I can't help but be reminded of the fact that the "ideal time" of the '50s, which many seem to be trying to re-create, was in fact largely the product of an (unholy?) alliance between Washington DC and Madison Avenue, the result of an advertising campaign designed to convince "Rosie the Riveter" and her sisters to leave the factories where they had contributed to the war effort, so there would be jobs available for the returning veterans (the govt was very worried of a repeat of post-WWI days, when veterans set up "tent cities" while demonstrating for jobs, and the Feds had to send out Gen. MacArthur to "deal with" them.) I wonder if maybe instead of Madison Avenue, this time the pulpits are being engaged to try and change the hearts and minds of working women (so that there will be jobs available for unemployed men.) It is this type of mis-application of Biblical "principles" that IMHO we need to be on the lookout for.One last thing I have learned is that the Bible is very, very metaphorical in nature. Most of the stories are *not* to be taken literally, and oftentimes it is easy to tell where "reality" ends and the metaphors begin. Unfortunately, many of us are intellectually lazy (there I go, being judgey myself), and prefer to "be fed" by others, rather than feeding (thinking for/learning) ourselves. And, interpreting this stuff is *hard*, as (again IMHO) the Bible is an attempt to explain something (the spiritual realm) that is basically inexplicable in physical terms. This explains the need for so much metaphor, and also why the Bible is (and, by its very nature, has to be) a very, very bad science book. Hence, I tend to be wary of Biblical literalists.Yes, it is indeed sad to see such divisiveness in the Christian community. However, given the nature of things (these debates go to the heart of our moral codes), it is really inevitable and unavoidable. So, remember to "Love thy neighbor as thyself", "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", and "judge not, lest ye be judged" (boy, has that last one been butchered over the years!)~EdT.

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  2. >Good for you continuing to learn. The Bible is a great book, but it has also been used for dark purposes in the past. We also need to remember a couple of things, one, it was written centuries ago and there was also a great amount of editorial impact in the new testament.The centuries ago thing needs bearing on the woman outside the home thing you discussed. Centuries ago, that is what women did. Now it is fine and acceptable for woman to work outside the home and even be bosses! The bible also mentions slavery, I certainly hope we don't go back to those times.Good luck on your search. Read about buddhism and Islam. All religions speak at the heart of being fair and good to one another.

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  3. >Wow! I made it on your link list. I hope I am not a "bad guy". I am a stay at homer myself. But, I don't like the heat some folks have given this. I agree with you, Titus 2 & Proverbs 31 are not prohibiting women from working. They just aren't. It seems pretty clear. I hope you don't think I judge someone like yourself who has chosen to work.

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  4. >Oh Erin, there are no "bad guys"! And we agree anyway 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. >Great post! I'm also a Christian employed-outside-the-home mom. That is what I've discerned God is calling ME to do. I think that invoking the Bible against women's employment makes about as much sense as quoting, "Whoever does not work should not eat," to demand that ALL women work–it's just not that cut-and-dried. A lot of the work women used to do in the home is now done by people working outside the home; a lot more is now done by machines, while there are jobs now that didn't exist then.Ed T. made a great point about the 1950s being an unusual time in our history and one with a lot of "spin" behind it. The book The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz gives an excellent explanation of this and similar social phenomena, and it's a very interesting read!Keep up the brain expansion!

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