Monday, June 2, 2014

Approaching Scripture

In my impression, the most important realization we can make is that no scripture is dictated by God verbatim.  In fact, very little of scripture by its own claim starts with "thus saith the lord", and that which does, is a reflection of a spiritual experience, often recollected years later, and recounted through oral tradition; and thus mixed with very human thinking and biases. 

At its best, scripture is given through inspiration into the mind and heart of humans at a given point in time.  At worst, it consists of a document justifying ethnic cleansing and genocide (this includes the OT with respect to Canaanites and Philistines, the NT with respect to Jews, and the Book of Mormon, with to the cultural identity of native americans and manifest destiny -- the god given justification to christianize them).  Thus, the concerns of the revealing "prophets" included tribal justifications as to why a given sacred place was decreed by god to belong to my tribe and not the sinful philistines (in today's language: "palestinians").

Once we realize the process of revelation, we can easily understand how mesopotamian myths came to be part of a sacred history, and why certain stories indicate a very partisan god.

The NT is no different.  the writings were never intended as scripture (with exception of Revelation) but rather, were captured thoughts by literate believers to explain specific points of view at a given point in time.  When the pagan Constantine organized the church in order to unite the empire, writings that were favorable toward rome and central priesthood power were kept, while the more esoteric and spiritual teachings, those favoring a sense of the divine feminine, the gnostic, or the jewish-christian view, were destroyed.  Indeed, the male-centric model of authority, where women were never to hold the priesthood and were to remain silent in churches in their plain modest dress and long hair, was systematically favored in the canon.

In order to develop a thoughtful faith, one based in truth, it is extremely important to understand the history of scripture.  Even scripture itself gives the key of understanding: scripture is NOT to be taken as literal history, but rather, the writings are holographically representative of the working of inspiration through flawed and politically motivated humans.  what emerges is not accurate history or science, but rather, a set of pointers to divine reality.  Scriptures thus do not contain that reality: they are like fingers pointing to the moon...they are not the moon, and when you look at the fingers, you can't see the moon.

In John 5:39, one of the misused and mistranslated scriptures in the King James Version, Jesus pointed out to the scribes that they searched the scriptures, because in them they thought the scriptures contained eternal life (god's Way of life: the Torah).  They do not, according to Jesus: they point to Him-- the I AM -- the eternal life as reflected in the Authentic Being that Jesus reflected in archtype.  He did not command the Scribes and Pharisees to "Search the scriptures", the greek is second person plural indicative, not imperative: "Ye search the scriptures"... an observation that the scribes and pharisees searching of scriptures has no real validity.  There is a warning in this for us.
How true it is of Jews, Mormons, Christians, and Muslims alike: a man-made thing becomes the object of worship and veneration.  The scriptures are venerated as the very infallible Word of God. 

To worship such an artifact has a word used in scripture: idolatry.

That said, scripture does point to the divine reality, and can serve as part of our faith journey.  in meditating on a truth, we can open our minds to the divine realities to which they point as we abandon the specific words and symbols.  once we come to be enlightened by that reality, according to the Bhagavad Gita, then scripture becomes as a well within a pristine, freshwater lake.