This week my approach to theology was called ‘revisionist’ in a discussion on Twitter. I found that very thought provoking, but not in the way the person on the other screen intended. I have every confidence, through prayer, discernment, study and discipleship, that my approach adheres to the teachings of Jesus. I write as I do because I sense a call by God on my life to do so. Revisionist, no. Reclaiming.
I reclaim a Gospel that taught Love Thy Neighbour As Yourself, secondary only to loving God, the highest gift we can give one another. Will this email show love, and would I find it ok to receive? No? Rewrite. Even if the KJV translation of the Bible uses the word ‘abomination’ and I’m only quoting a Bible verse? Still. Rewrite. Has it ever helped a situation to call someone an abomination? Yet it is still happening (references available on request or all over your favourite search engine …) .
I reclaim a Gospel that taught Women Are Equal in Leadership. The first chosen evangelist, sent out to tell of Jesus’ words, was an ostracised Samaritan woman with a tragic (not seedy) past, yet she converted a whole town. The first major funder of an outreach project was Mary Magdalene. Acts is full of references to women leaders, even if you have to dig deep to uncover their service after the patriarchal systems that codified our Bible and organised religious structures weren’t comfortable with God’s design and thought they could do better – Junia being a prime victim. God oversees but humans discern and humans don’t have 100% success rates …
I reclaim a Gospel that spoke of Love and Committment, and Two People Honouring Eachother in Marriage being more important than legalism or control. I assert that Biblical society understood sexuality in a different light to the way we do now, and therefore cannot speak literally across to it. We have to look to context, themes and discernment. Jesus came to liberate, promote love and release us from ancient rules that bind us, erasing lines that separate is and inviting us into Abundant Life. That becomes a lie if it has an addendum which states ‘This is only for one type if people, even though I made you all, sorry about that’. Jesus never lied.
I am not trying to revise anything in deconstructing what stands as institutional Church in 2020. I am seeking to reclaim the fundamental truths of Jesus, as I have done in my own life to find peace and joy in ways I have never yet known as a lifelong Christian. I have been a legalistic, ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, blinkered person trotting out cliches and hurting good people left right and centre in my self righteous ignorance. Oh, if I had just loved them! How many seeds of God’s love would I have sown.
Jesus came to set us free. Let us reclaim that message and bless others with it this Advent and beyond.
Peace be with you