Posted: 06/24/12 13:52, Edited: 06/24/12 13:56
by Dave Mindeman
Well it's Sunday. Time for a sermon.
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. -- Joshua 10:13
I was raised in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Don't mix that up with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. No. No. Whole different ball game.
One of the main things about Missouri Synod is that they are adamant about the literalness of the Bible. Every word is true. Every single one. Faith means nothing if the Bible is not literally quotations from God.
I quoted the Bible verse above because that verse is the key reason I am not a member of Missouri Synod anymore. So, I'll explain.
As I grew up and got my college degree, the conflicts between science and literalist Missouri Synod teaching always bothered me. Pastors never talked about those conflicts much....of course, God was always above those arguments and His (always the male pronoun) power was an explanation for everything.
But that Joshua verse kept coming back to me. Why would a God who had set up such an intricate and complex universe with physical laws that made it all work and allow us to exist.....why would that God take one particular day in history and simply break all of His universal laws for a 24 hour period? Why would He add one more day to one annual cycle of the earth around the sun? Why suspend the laws of gravity for one full day? Why suspend an entire universe and stop time (so to speak) to allow a somewhat inconsequential battle on one planet, in the middle of a desert on that planet, continue?
And why would a God, who is the God of all people, allow this seemingly impossible act in the universe, happen so that His "chosen" people can slaughter and kill another group of human beings to the last one?
The Bible talks of miracles and great deeds...and I am sure a lot of them are based on oral histories and events that were described with a certain bias, but nevertheless, with some basis of truth. But events that are counter to the scientific knowledge, we now know about, are just not possible to me. We need to look at these events in a broader context and meaning, because they are not literally true events.
Of course, I have just spoken heresy in Missouri Synod terms. The Bible is written without error, therefore the earth did stop revolving and somehow we did keep gravity without earth movement to produce it....for that one day.....to continue the slaughter of one group of human beings.
I have family and friends who are lifelong and dedicated members of LCMS. My sister is married to a minister in that church. Other family members are dedicated to their local church and dedicated to their faith. They are good people and are respected and admired in their communities.
But we don't talk about religion much. There is little to be gained to discuss a point and have the Bible brought out as the final say. LCMS people use it as final arbiter. All of my arguments are based on the premise that it is not the final arbiter.....that logic dictates a further examination. That is a discussion that goes nowhere, obviously.
I understand how this mindset works....more than most people. As I grew up, it was comforting to know things in an absolute sense.... and LCMS people do. Everything is black and white. In LCMS we don't have to explain the actions of God, we just accept them.
It is easier in LCMS to deal with complicated issues. Abortion is simply wrong....no nuances. Gay people will be going to hell.....people in LCMS feel bad about that and hope they will change, but there is nothing they can do. Women cannot be ministers -- not because they don't have the skills or aptitude --it's because God said they couldn't.
It is a way of thinking with a bedrock premise. Everything in the Bible is absolute and true. If that were to be questioned.....if one were to be convinced that even one idea was not factual....then the house of cards comes tumbling down.
LCMS and churches like them need that bedrock foundation. Without it, there would be far too many thoughts and questions and discussions to be had.
And that would be dangerous.
Side Note: Just in case, like me, your inquisitive mind noticed the reference in the verse to the Book of Jashar - here is what I found out. No one is absolutely sure the book existed. Scholars assume it was a hymn book dedicated to Jewish military exploits. One supposed copy was out there in the 17 or 1800's, but it was proved to be a forgery. No help there.