church nonsense

The Drip, Drip, Drip of Dogmatism

I’ve been too knackered to read or write anything these past two weeks.  I won’t go into the details but it has to do with my mom falling and injuring her hip (CT scan next week), both of my dogs having a nasty bout of diarrhea (clean-up in aisle 2), and me working just about ’round the clock to prepare for a presentation.

Profound exhaustion.

But then last night I went to the newly renovated Strand Theater in the newly rejuvenated Pontiac to see Phillip Phillips. Just Phillip, Dave Eggars, a guitar, a cello and a voice. In an intimate setting.


It was outstanding.

Brian Vander Ark opened with skills of his own.

So today I had enough rejuvenation of my own to read a little something and I read this:

“Here’s the thing: Christianity is not about a personal relationship with Jesus. The phrase is never found in the Bible. And the whole biblical witness runs contrary to it.”

I was only three paragraphs into the article and I was exhausted again.

Because I’m tired of statements like that one.

Untrue overstatements to support a point.

Correct, the phrase “personal relationship” is not found in the Bible (lots of phrases to which Christians adhere are not found in the Bible), but that doesn’t mean the whole Biblical witness runs contrary to it.

When God rebuked Aaron and Miriam in Numbers 12 He said, “When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face…”

In Exodus 33, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Isaiah wrote, “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend...” and in another place, he wrote “look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.” [emphasis added]

God said of David: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”

John referred to himself as, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  When Peter, learning how he would die, looked at John and asked, “What about him?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

And there was Job who, after a long personal discourse with God said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

A quick survey of the whole biblical witness (and these are just the first few that come to mind)  reveals that God had many unique, personal relationships.

Oh, oh, oh I just thought of more: Jesus revealing Himself personally to Mary at the tomb and then to the disciples minus Thomas and then to Thomas personally with a personalized revelation tailored to his specific need to believe…

We know from Scripture that He made promises to individuals as well as to nations.

He still does.  He still has unique, personal relationships with individuals AND He has corporate relationships with nations and with the church at large.

Things are rarely one or the other when it comes to the way we practice religion.  They’re almost always a little bit of both.

Which is why dogma wears me out.













3 thoughts on “The Drip, Drip, Drip of Dogmatism

  1. Mrs. Boots says:

    I struggle with the personal relationship thing. Not at a doctrinal level, just as a person wondering if God really is invested in my life at a detail level. Sometimes I totally get it, other times I struggle. And every time somebody says ‘Jesus would have died for you even if you were the only one.’ I don’t know where they get that idea from the Bible. But I like this list of personal individual relationships he had with different people. I’m going to come back to this post when I’m looking for encouragement with this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mrs. Boots says:

    I was just thinking about this again — and I think the personal relationship thing is what changed between the old and new covenants. God had personal relationships with selected people in the O.T., but Nobody ever called him “Abba/Father” until Jesus taught us to pray with those words. That’s an invitation to a personal relationship. And it is confirmed in the NT where it talks about about adopted as sons and daughters into his family. A father/child relationship is pretty personal. It’s a hard idea for people to grasp, I think, especially those of us with baggage as to how we were brought up to understand God.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mrs. Boots! I don’t know how I missed your first comment. I certainly agree with your second one.

    I think (maybe cynically) that some churches teach dependence on the clergy to give power to the clergy. Which is just the sort of thing Jesus didn’t like.

    With regard to your first comment, I struggle with that during tough times, too. But then I think about the effort He made to reveal Himself to me and I nod, yes, of course You care about me personally.

    Liked by 1 person

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