Thoughts for October 18th, 2016

We each experience God in our own unique ways. We each are inspired by the Word in our own unique and different ways. We each express and give praises to God in our own unique and different ways. So naturally, doesn’t this mean that we interpret Scriptures in our own unique and different ways? Is this somehow wrong of us? Shouldn’t there be some kind of mutual consensus or some common understanding shared by all? How can a single Scripture like the Bible or the Quran or the Talmud inspire so many different viewpoints and theologies?

Who has the correct theology and interpretation? Who has it all wrong? Is it possible that everyone has it all wrong? Is it possible that maybe the diversity of views and ideas is the actual ultimate truth and truest expression of God? In that there is no possible way to pinpoint and latch onto just one true aspect or manifestation or expression of an infinite God….

God can be all things to all people. God can be anything to everyone according to our needs and our individual understanding. The Scripture then becomes our means of understanding Man’s experiences with God. The books of the Bible or the suras of the Quran then become the personal expressions of those experiences and are more a reflection of a personal experience rather than a necessarily future or present shared experience where we must assume that God will appear to us or come into our lives precisely as described in the Bible or Quran or Talmud. The experiences of the author do not have to be our experience, in other words. And the views and thoughts and insights of the author do not necessarily have to be how we need to see, think, or feel.

It would be unfair to hold our expectations and beliefs to those of someone outside our culture or time period. In some sense, to do so would be to rob ourselves of our own personal connections with God. Likewise it would be unfair for us to judge or condemn the beliefs of those outside our culture and time period simply because they do not appear in union with our own experiences and understandings.

It all seems like common sense until you realize that most organized churches want their adherents to have a conformity of beliefs and interpretations and theology. The individual’s personal spirituality becomes secondary to the mentality and beliefs of a larger body as directed by a hierarchal system of leadership. It is like saying all Methodists must believe in the same principles of theology and must all be in agreement on how they read and interpret the Bible. They must all think and feel alike on the same spiritual, social, and these days political issues they come across. The same can be said of any denomination or sect of any organized religion with a few exceptions. The goal of organized religion in a general sense, is to form a spiritual body of people who are like-minded and generally uniform in thought and theological perspective. It is to “gather the flock” to worship in accordance to that particular denomination or sect’s theological perspective.

Where does the individual’s spirituality belong when the mandate seems to be, “join the flock” and be like the flock in nearly every way?

Perhaps these questions I raise gets to the root of why many leave the church and why there are divisions within the various “flocks”. And why some churches and temples are open and affirming and others are not…..

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About Rachel Conlin McLeod

Transgender activist, Christian at First Baptist Church in Willimantic, Connecticut. B.A. in History and Social Sciences, B.A. in Sociology Freelance writer, tutor, research assistant Loves hockey, ballet, women's gymnastics, and Bible studies.
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