Pastor John started his sermon on John 8 this past Sunday by talking about the evangelical bubble we can find ourselves in. It isn’t a bad place to be – it includes all the people who believe what we believe, and love what we love and talk about things we like to talk about.
Frankly, that’s one of the reasons I like my church so much.
He went on to say that there are people out there, hundreds and hundreds of leaders in churches and universities, who don’t believe what we believe. And they make statements about God’s word that are shocking to those of us who live in this bubble. Pastor John offered a couple of examples, including quoting a professor from Duke University.
He was right. His examples were shocking.
But they weren’t surprising to me.
Disability has forced me to engage certain ‘religious’ sectors that I never would have known existed. For example, more than a decade ago I attended a conference on disability and the church and heard a Jewish Rabbi respond to a question about how to deal with the ‘hard’ passages in the Bible on disability. This Rabbi assumed Leviticus 21 was being referenced in the question. He very seriously responded that “we just ignore those passages; we know better now.”
I had NEVER heard anything like that before. Yet the general response in that crowd wasn’t the confusion and disappointment I was feeling, but a general sense that he was right.
But it didn’t have the effect I think that Rabbi was intending. Rather than settle the question, or make me retreat into the bubble, God gave me a very keen interest in the subject of disability and the Bible. Since that conference, I have read hundreds of journal articles on the Bible and disability. Most shock me in how breezily they dismiss aspects of God’s word, his character or his authority. Some of the arguments are just silly, but because they are ‘novel’ or ‘cutting edge’ they get a serious reading in otherwise serious journals.
It has had the impact of making me read the Bible much more carefully, and to ask, regularly, for the Holy Spirit’s help in understanding what I am reading.
I count that as a good thing.
If we have an interest in disability and the Bible, we will run into horrible arguments. We’ve dealt with those issues a few times in this forum:
- Hermeneutic of suspicion of the Word
- Those who dismiss Psalm 139 as a defense for unborn children
- Those who suggest Exodus 4:11 means something other than what it says