My Bible and Tribal Warfare


gary portraitGodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

It is the fault of the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg.

In 1440, he invented the printing press with movable metal type. The fundamentals of his invention served until the late 20th century in making the printed page common as sand.

war14Once he finished the printing press and the movable type to go with it he immersed himself into the project that became his namesake—a printed Bible. Over the years of 1454 and 1455 Gutenberg printed 180 copies of what in now known as the Gutenberg Bible.

He could never have dreamed of the millions upon millions to be impacted—both by his invention and by his Bible.

war3Without a doubt, my favorite class in both my junior and senior years of high school was printing.

From a large type case, we learned to use movable metal type—much like Gutenberg. As the course progressed we move to the next step—the offset printing press.

Yes, this printing thing caught on.

Just three years ago Bible Societies distributed 34 million Bibles to nations of our globe. There are now more bibles than people in our 21st century world. This statement is somewhat misleading as multi-millions across the globe still lack some or all of the Bible in their own language.

Prior to Johannes Gutenberg the church determined doctrine and its priests read portions of the Bible to congregants. In a sense the priests held the Bible as private property confined within the walls of the church.

worldview9However, the printing press moved the Bible from the clergy to the people.

What was unheard of for thousands of years is today’s reality.

As a common citizen I own a complete copy of God’s Holy Word. I don’t have to depend on the clergy to tell me what their Bible says. I have my own copy.

I would argue that the new printing press sparked the growth of literacy. Add to that the internet phenomena of the 21st century and the Bible is set loose in the streets.

war17Just over sixty years after the Gutenberg Bible came off the press the young Martin Luther was teaching at the University of Wittenberg. As Luther read his Bible he identified 95 theses of misalignment between his Bible and his church.

Luther’s 95 theses nailed to the chapel doors on October 31, 1517 spread throughout Germany within two weeks and across Europe within two months.

war19The Protestant Reformation had begun.

Since Luther’s time millions of men and women have read their Bibles and drawn their own conclusions. From that reading we humans wired with conviction, pride and persuasion have created thousands upon thousands of church tribes.

Even those within the same tribe find their Bible reads differently from other adherents of the same group. Pew and pulpit fail to reach one hundred percent agreement.

war7At our worst tribes shoot at other tribes or we are at war with our own subtribes.

At our best, far too many of us practice “cold shoulder” recognition of other Christ followers who read their Bible differently and worship Father, Son and Spirit under a dissimilar church sign.

Perhaps a divided body isn’t all the fault of the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg. We fail to realize that none of us are perfect readers and under every church sign is found imperfect interpretations.

Probably, from time to time I should raise a prayer of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for gifting Gutenberg with an inquisitive mind and the tenacity to create an open door for me to have my own Bible that I can read anytime day or night.

And maybe—just maybe—I should be less judgmental and allow others the grace to read their Bible different from me.

war20Possibly, I should treat those who worship under other church signs (who too are disciples of Jesus) as brothers and sisters since we claim the same Lord and Father.

Is it conceivable that God was behind a plan that would involve Gutenberg the German inventor, Luther, the German disciple, and the printing industry to open doors for millions to give their hearts to Father, Son and Spirit?

Perhaps we should lay down our offensive weapons and praise God for all who discover salvation in Jesus through the diverse ways they read their Bible.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Bible and Tribal Warfare

Gary@GodReflection.org   http://www.GodReflection.org   

http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

My Desert Church


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portrait4I am reminded again of my thesis in this series of post. No two people on God’s planet earth read the Bible through identical lens. Each of us bring broad strands of diversity to the Holy Text.

For this reason, as I begin this post I am aware that many of you will find little that is parallel to your own experience. Perhaps, others will pick up on something that will send you down your own private memory lane.

However, I cannot make any attempt at being honest with my own Bible without the admission that my desert church plays a major role—probably more than I realize—in the way I read all these decades later.

From my childhood town in the heat of the Chihuahuan Desert it is safe to assume we did not have the magic formula on how to do church.

church8It is not too much of an overstatement to say my church was also my family. True, some of its adherents were members of my genetic family while others just felt like it. From my young perspective, our church lived family.

Like family my desert church could trace its own genetic origin back to the eighteen hundreds tied closely to the proposition that we too could be identical in form, function and purpose to the first-century New Testament church.

worldview8The Bible was held with great esteem by our church family. A high premium was placed on the knowledge of right and wrong.

From the value of Scripture and the emphasis on doing right we created and were taught our own tribal traditions through conclusions drawn from previous generations and from the family pulpit.

church4aLeaders in the roles of elder, preacher, teacher, song leader and deacon set the tone for our desert church. From them we learn that arguments were to end in peace. From them we learned the contents of our Bible. From them we saw family in action.

church1bThe congregation’s pulpit played a huge role in the way I read my Bible. From baby blanket to high school graduation I must have slept, wiggled and listened to over twenty-five hundred sermons.

No, the pulpit proclaimers didn’t get it all right. They too preached from lives of diverse preparation and diverse backgrounds. But, their respect for God’s Holy Bible was never in doubt.

It is partially through my desert church formation that I read my Bible today. From that experience both right and wrong presuppositions screen my encounter with my Bible.

church7Like those of our own family tree, my desert church family was flawed by we human types who called ourselves brothers, sisters and mischievous kids. But the desert family patience, love and desire to follow God and His Son held us together.

I suspect that each of us who worship today in churches of our twenty-first century use the exposure we encounter in current congregations to form filters through which we read our Bible.

From our church tribes, their tribal origins, their traditions and their view of Scripture we all approach our Bible in diversity.

The congregational emphasis of exclusivity or acceptance of other Christ followers’ influences the way many view Scripture today. Theology and conclusions drawn through the repetition of worship songs over time create concepts and ideas in our minds eye that color the way we read our Bible.

worldview4Vibrant teachers within congregations who share an exciting Creator God are more likely to instill in students an intrigue with their Bible.

Teachers who personify a bottle of sleep medication become a barrier that can dissuade others from discovery of the richness and joy to be found at the feet of the opened book.

My hope for each of us is that in some way we might come out of our self-imposed desert places and participate as a positive corporate lens through which others can see the authentic Jesus as they join with us to read a Bible that speaks to each of our realities.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Desert Church
Gary@Godreflection.org http://www.GodReflection.org
http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

I Wasn’t Born Into Your Family


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

garyguarujaI just returned from a long-awaited cousins reunion.

What a wonderful gathering of diverse people. Nine cousins with their families, an aunt and an uncle brought joy and warmth to the room. And to think, everyone is a member of my extended family.

In the presence of four generations we shared the stories and auctioned family heirlooms Family1to each other for a family memorial gift to present to a children’s home in the name of our recently deceased cousin Derrell.

We retold stories of Grandpa. We played dominoes and cards together, ate together, sang together, and worshipped together.

We lived family history.

Often, I’ve claimed to have been reared on a church pew. It never occurred to me to ask my parents, but having known them for almost six decades I suspect I went from the hospital to church on the first Sunday of my life.

family3I was born in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Yes, it was in the USA in an actual hospital at the middle of our little town. The state of New Mexico still carried the scent of its new frontier roots.

Its native-born residents and those who came from other states were more of the—can I say make it work—fresh from farm life folks trying to figure out how to create a livelihood without crops, cultivation and harvest. We weren’t exactly on the radar screen of big city people.

family4As with frontier generations my family was from a love by show rather than tell background. Therefore, I don’t recall hearing the word love vocalized much among kinfolks but its expression into my life from family and church was never in doubt.

I knew we were family.

family11I was raised with very clear do’s and don’ts while given a huge amount of freedom

From family, I learned both the concept of sin against God and allegiance to Jesus prior to my own personal encounter with Scripture.

Raised in a time of racial segregation we were far enough off of the radar screen that segregated schools, restaurants, bathrooms and water fountains were never an issue.

Shamefully however, churches and neighborhood were divided along racial lines. At school, many of my best friends were from families of Mexican and African origin. None of those friends were in my church.

family14The family value of education flowed from grandparents, parents, aunts and uncle’s rural school influence of the previous generation. Everyone learned to read.

As we learned to read the skill was aligned with each unique personality to be used throughout life in diverse ways and different degrees.

The reading family value significantly added richness and understanding to my own faith walk. 

It is beyond my comprehension why my birth came within a specific heritage, racial, socio-economic family. I am sure that in ways that I don’t recognize the family lens influences the way I read my Bible.

Because I wasn’t born into your family my Bible doesn’t read like yours.

family6Since you weren’t born into my family and since you walked a different path your own unique familial eyeglasses are made from a completely different set of lenses. It is through those glasses that you read God’s Holy Bible.

God’s Word gets screened through a value system influenced from our family backgrounds.

It is one of many diverse strands that Scripture flows through as God’s inspired message speaks to my soul.

However, as we explore the reality that each person reads her or his Bible from their own unique point of view how can we be assured we hear God’s call? How can I know family12that I am reading what God wants me to hear?

I want to explore the obvious question in the next post. Since we all read the Bible differently, can we all share the heart of Scripture that is the core message of our Bibles?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: I Wasn’t Born Into Your Family

Gary@Godreflection.orghttp://www.GodReflection.org. http://www.MakeYourVissionGoViral.com

My Worldview is Unique to Me


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

garyguarujaIt’s not uncommon to hear someone express, “I have my own standards”.

It seems common place for us human types to judge each other by our own individual standards.

It is from my “standards” created by my own experiences that I interpret the world. The accumulated mass that feeds into my brain makes up my worldview.

From my worldview, I interpret everything that crosses the path of my earth walk.

It is through this worldview lens that I read my Bible.

worldview2

worldview13The way I am wired colors my worldview. My particular personality follows me to the text.

Since I have a creative gene my tendency isn’t to read my Bible through the precise lens of a banker, a scientist or an accountant.

I have little interest in the periods, comas, sums and formulas each uncovers with abundant joy.

worldview14I read more as a builder, an architect or a city planner. I am a “big picture” type of guy. It is through the “what is and what can be” creative lens that I tend to see the world.

I can only read Scripture from the vantage point of who I am. I cannot read my Bible like you do because I am not you.

My own view of God influences my worldview. It colors the way I see myself and those I encounter. Thus, this God view aspect influences my open Bible. What has been my experience with God? Has He answered my prayers?

worldview20Do I look at Him as a Holy Santa Claus or as an ever-present Guide who sometime sends me down rocky trails?

Is He a clock winder God who wound up the universe like a time piece or an action toy then backed off to let it run down or is He active in my present?

My worldview is form by what I read and hear from others. To a certain extent the things I read and hear—that make sense—become a part of the way I see the world. It is with those same preconceptions—some right and some wrong—that I approach God’s Holy Bible.

Unfortunately, my prejudices—known or unknown to me—sway my worldview. I think of an extreme but real example of slavery. Sadly, slavery is more prominent across worldview23the face of the world today than it has been at any time in human history.

Not all that long ago in my own nation the way people viewed a different race made it possible to read their Bible and from it justify slavery.

The way I view others shapes my worldview. Do I see my co-travelers as inferior, equal or superior to myself?  Here I am in the twenty first century living in one of the neighborhoods of the world that are in a major shift.

Up and down my street I have neighbors from Africa, Brazil, France, Mexico, Porto Rico and even a few from Texas. The way I see those of my own race and the way I look at those of other nationalities impact my worldview.

worldview11My view of self plays a role in the way I see my world. Am I self- centered living with the expectation that everything should come my way?

Do I have a view of my role on the planet? Do I see myself as an instrument of God? Do I feel capable? Or, do I view myself as inferior to others?

All of the above—and much more—compose my worldview one that is unique to me alone.

It is from my one-of-a-kind view of the world that I come to Scripture.

So here is the big question.

If each reader of the Bible brings her or his exclusive worldview to the way they read the text, shouldn’t I offer a little slack and breathing room to others who don’t see everything in Scripture the way I see it? Shouldn’t this fact alone make me less judgmental?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Worldview is Unique to Me

Gary@Godreflection.org  http://www.GodReflection.org  http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

 

You and I Read Our Bible Differently


GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

garyguaruja“I didn’t fall off a turnip truck yesterday,” was the way an old elder friend often led into words of wisdom he was about to express.

Since I’ve never seen a turnip truck—much less fallen from one—I’m not sure I completely understand the origin and the complete meaning of his expression. I think that was his way to state what seemed obvious to him.

different4As I begin this series of blog posts I feel as if this is a treatment of the obvious. My Bible doesn’t read like yours. You and I read our Bible differently.

It doesn’t take an overabundance of brain cells to observe the fact that the body of Christ is split into thousands upon thousands of tribal churches. And, within each church exist countless divisions.

I hear all sorts of what seems to me to be unreal explanations. Like one I’ve heard most of my life expressed in one form or another: “If only a reader was honest, she or he could correctly read their Bible the way I read mine.”

Although, I’ve observed—to my mind—some rather screwy interpretations of Scripture, I have to believe a lack of basic honesty is not the problem across the body of Christ.

different8In this set of posts, I want to explore the effect that worldview, background,  church traditions, Bible exposure, feelings, religion, tribal warfare and expectations have upon how each of us encounter Holy Scripture.

Is it possible that the way God divinely and uniquely wired every one of us, when mixed with our imperfections as descendants of the Eden fall, make it impossible to see everything alike—even our Bibles?

Since I’m not wired like you why should I spend time and word count on the obvious?

It is because the heart of Jesus expressed time and again His desire that WE ALL love God and each other. Being the human that I am, I find it is far too easy to withhold love from someone who disagrees with me or does not see Scripture the exact same way I do.

different11If we can’t seem to see things alike then what do I hope to accomplish by highlighting our differences?

It is my hope that a look at the differences we bring to our Bibles will help us grow in unity with the Savior and with each other.

If I can better understand why God’s children read Holy Scripture differently I might just see that a sibling in the Lord is not wrong in their interpretation of the Bible; but their different6unique perspective comes through the use of a valid lens that helps them gain greater eyesight to walk with the risen Christ.

I believe the Bible to be true and the inspired word of God. Yet, I know the infallible Bible is always read by fallible men and women.

Isn’t it more important to follow Jesus—The Truth—in faith and trust then it is to demand from each other a unified interpretation of all sixty-six of the books and letters that make up the thirty-one thousand one hundred three verses of our Bibles?

different9There is an attitude I want to cultivate throughout this series of posts in hopes that it will spill over into my life. It comes from a contrast greater than I can possibly imagine.

It is my affirmation that I am a flawed, limited human being with only a speck of a brain when compared to perfect and unlimited God.

In light of my own humanness, shouldn’t I be willing to give a fellow Christ follower a break when our Bibles don’t seem to read the same?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: You and I Read our Bibles Differently

Gary@Godreflection.org  http://www.GodReflection.org

http://www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com