Last night I ended up in bed early reading (trying to read) 1st Timothy and finding myself told off, condemned and generally rebuked by what Paul was saying compared to some of the things I had been saying in those last few posts.
But then the feelings of anger and frustration started bubbling up as I just don’t like the tone of the letter on first reading. To be honest my initial thought was ‘Who is this man to be telling me what to do?’
Of course Paul was telling Timothy what he should be doing but some of those things do seem like general commands Paul tells everyone to do.
And that is the whole problem.
Here we have a man, writing personal letters to individuals like Timothy 2000 years ago yet we have to take it in faith that when Paul says something to Timothy in a letter he isn’t just writing a personal letter, he is speaking the word of God. It applies as much to me as it does to Timothy.
Sometimes this seems like a big jump to take, to stake your whole life on a letter like this.
I haven’t linked any of these recent posts up on Facebook as I’ve a feeling that some of my friends will think I’m going off the rails spiritually and that partly scares me, and partly annoys me.
I don’t want to try and pick holes in Christianity or the Good News, I just want to know it’s true. But Im afraid some of my more evangelical, reformed friends would say that I’m trying to undermine scripture or that I’m blaspheming. And when that comes into the picture the mental images from childhood of the devil and flames of hell start flooding back, of spending an eternity in eternal condemnation.
The basic thrust of their argument seems to be that you just have to submit and trust that the Bible is the Word of God and trust in that no matter what.
Yet if you know any church leader, even the the most Godly you know that they’re broken people who get things wrong. Even the very best theology books have errors and blind spots, the very best sermons might be incredible but it won’t be perfect.
So how could it be that a personal letter wouldn’t have some errors or be influenced by Paul’s personality for example or his passions, by the blind spots? Or do we just have to submit to the bible without asking any questions of it?