(cont. of article, “Absolutizing the Relatives,” By: Earl D. Radmacher)
But Paul stressed that if such customs caused “contentions”, then, “we have no such customs (adherences), neither the Churches of God”(1Cor.11:16), because there should not be anything that would cause “division” (11:18) in the Body of Christ.
Let us beware, then, of the twin dangers of ‘Absolutizing the Relatives,’ and ‘Relativizing the Absolutes.’ Where God has allowed liberty of convictions, let us not be more rigid than God. But where He has spoken absolutely, let us, then, apply the Scripture uncompromisingly in love.
(End of article, “Absolutizing the Relatives”).
(Next article: “Paul’s Long Hair Comments: “Bible Meaning Depends on Interpretation”, By: Louis Cassels, UPI Religion Writer, 1972; another example of absolutizing the relatives)
Religion is a subject that stirs up strong differences of opinion, and anyone who writes about it can expect to receive a bit of abusive responses (snail mail/email). But even an old hand at the business, such as myself, is surprised sometimes at the intensity of responses. The largest volume of irate mail I have received in years, was provoked by what I thought was an offhand obvious statement: that no moral issue is involved in the current vogue of men wearing their hair long.
From all parts of the country letters poured in quoting 1Cor.11:14, “Nature itself teaches you that long hair is a disgraceful thing for a man.” None of my correspondents was prepared to accept the possibility that Paul, in this passage, was merely expressing his own personal prejudices, conditioned by the Greek culture in which he lived.
But it is obvious from the context that this is what Paul was doing. In the sentence immediately preceding it, he says: “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God in public worship with nothing on her head?” The women of 1st century Corinth would have answered that easily enough. In their culture only whores went around without veils on their heads in public. That is no longer true today. So Paul’s admonition that a respectable woman should wear a covering in Church simply is irrelevant to our time and society. It is, in fact, precisely as irrelevant as his view that long hair on males is contrary to “nature” (v.14).
The conservative Protestant magazine, “Christianity Today” — always an articulate defender of the authority of the Bible — gave prominent display recently to an article warning evangelicals that, “…it is an error simply to take a biblical injunction out of its cultural context, and then to reproduce it in our society without reflection upon its, THEN, cultural significance!
In order to make the Gospel meaningful to many different cultures — not only to those of distant lands, but also to our own youth subculture of today — it is imperative to extract its timeless truth from any particular cultural context.
Ultra-fundalmentalists won’t buy this! They are wedded absolutely to the doctrine that every line of the Bible represents a verbatim utterance of God Himself!
This stance, has as its virtue, the premise of protecting Scriptural authority from the gradual erosion that took place when biblical critics undertook to determine for themselves which parts of the text could be regarded as authentic. But it also leaves the biblical literalist in the position of attributing to God some quite bizzar statements and admonitions, including explicit orders for the massacre of women and children, in the Israelite conquest of Canaan. To believe that Gog commanded the wholesale slaughter of innocents, described in the accounts at Deut. 2:31-34, and all the accounts in the book of Joshua, is in my opinion, a vastly greater impiety (lack of reverence for God) than to acknowledge that the human authors of Scripture may, on occasion, have reflected their own cultural-conditioned ideas rather than words dictated to them by God.
(End of article, “Paul’s Long Hair Comments: Bible Meaning Depends on Interpretation”)
“When You Read The Bible Through”
By: Amos R. Wells
I suppose I knew my Bible,
reading piecemeal, hit or miss,
now a bit of John or Matthew,
now a snatch of old Genesis.
Certain chapter of Isaiah,
certain Psalms (the twenty-third),
twelth of Romans, first of Proverbs,
yes I thought I knew the Word.
But I found that thorough reading,
was a different thing to do,
and the way was unfamiliar,
when I read the Bible through.
You who like to play at Bible,
dip and dabble, here and there,
just before you kneel aweary,
and yawn through a hurried prayer.
You who treat the Crown of writings,
like you treat no other book,
just a paragraph disjointed,
just a crude and impatient look.
Try a worthier procedure,
try a broad and steady view,
you will kneel in very rapture,
when you read the Bible through!
(End of Session 1 Required Reading Assignments)
(Next up, S.1.6, Session 1 Main Material)
Categories: Mark Blain