God breathed.

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Genesis describes God breathing life into Adam.  Much later in the bible, in the book of Timothy, scripture is described in a way that is usually translated as inspired.

But the actual words used are ones which literally mean God-breathed.

We do an awful lot with our belief that scripture is divinely inspired.  I’m not denying that it is.

But I wonder if we were meant to go in these directions.  I wonder, instead, if the idea in Timothy wasn’t to evoke a paralell with the book of Genesis.  God breathed life into us.  Then he breathed life into words.  And those words would eventually be collected into the bible.

In the same sense that human kind is set apart from the rest of creation, so too are the books of the bible.  The breath that God breathed in gives an inherent value, a preciousness.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “God breathed.”

  1. This is one of those things that is a little complicated to explain in writing but would be much easier orally. But I’ll give it a try.
    The full statement is “But I wonder if we were meant to go in these directions. I wonder, instead, if the idea in Timothy wasn’t to evoke a paralell with the book of Genesis. God breathed life into us. Then he breathed life into words.”

    The negative is meant somewhat rhetorically. I actually meant the positive; it would have been more clear if I said, “I believe that Timothy was meaning to evoke a paralell with the book of Genesis.”

    I tried to spell out what I think this means in the last paragraph: God set aside humanity from the rest of creation. And he set aside the words of scripture from the rest of everything that would ever be written or said.
    The way he did this was by breathing something of his very own essence into humanity… and by breathing something of his very own essence into scripture.

    I guess I can be explicit here and say what I’m really reacting to, and responding to, is people who use this portion of Timothy to reduce scripture to the status of a textbook. I think we belittle God’s word when we suggest it’s merely a list of scientific facts.
    I guess I’ll just throw down the guantlet and say what I’m thinking here, and go so far as to say that one of the places I see this happen is within the creation account: I think that being militant around the idea that Genesis describes 7 24-hour periods is enaging in exactly this kind of attack on the holiness of scripture.


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