Flat Earthers and Biblical Interpretation

I had my first encounter with a real live flat earther…

…ok, not exactly.  But I did have a conversation with someone who is related to one.

My friend sent me a paper written from a flat-earth perspective and I thought I would post some of my response here:

As for the Biblical interpretation…

All I can say is that the paper is an example of what not to do with scripture. Taking metaphors/idioms and using them literally makes for good comedy, (I've got my eye on you) but it is a way to confuse things horribly in serious study. The person who wrote this paper hasn't thought through how their exegetical approach would carry out with other biblical passages.

For example, would Jesus' teaching in Matthew 10:16 require us to eat grass, walk around on four legs, and say "bahhh?" Or are we allowed to take Jesus' words as a metaphor? Again, I am quite confident that the author of this paper loves God, and reveres scripture, but I imagine that they don't take Jesus command (recorded in Luke 10:37) as a requirement to put wounded people on our donkeys and take them to the closest inn.

All that I would want is that the same lenses we wear when we read these two passages should also be worn when we attempt to understand what scripture might teach us about cosmology. Specifically, we should read God's book with the intention of understanding God's message. We rightly understand Matthew 10:16 to be Jesus' attempt to encourage humility, peacefulness, and innocence in the face of evil; we rightly understand Luke 10:37 as Jesus' attempt to encourage human compassion that trumps personal convenience and racial animosity.

We ought to also understand that scripture does not intend to speak to a physical model of the construction of the universe. The passages quoted in the paper are not God's attempt to teach us about the relationship between the sun, stars, heavens, planets, and our earth. They ARE intended to speak to the grandeur of God, or his sovereignty, or the mystery and beauty of the creation, or the destruction that is wrought when God's wrath is poured out on evil.

To 'read the Bible literally' is to take the Bible for what it is, not turn it into something else. Where the Bible is law, we must understand it the way we understand laws; where the Bible is prophecy, we must read it the way prophecy is read; where it is song lyrics, we must interpret them the way we interpret song lyrics; where it is narrative, we must understand it as a story. No one would take the jacket from a CD and use it as an argument about the curvature of the earth, so we ought not to do so with the Psalter...


Felicia Sanders is MY Hero

Felicia Sanders was the mother of Tywanza Sanders. Both Felicia and her son were in the Bible study with Dylann Roof when he began to shoot the people there with a gun he had brought to the meeting. Tywanza was killed in front of his mother. Felicia survived. At the bail hearing for the shooter, Felicia said the following words:

“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with welcome arms. You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts and I’ll, I’ll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son. But Tywanza Sanders was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. … May God have mercy on you.”

Nadine Collier, daughter of victim Ethel Lance, said:

“I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you.”

Wanda Simmons, granddaughter of Daniel Simmons, said:

“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof, everyone’s plea for your soul, is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So hate won’t win. And I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”


Incarnational Ministry

A ministry of presence is a requirement for serving alongside the poor. We must come near to those we desire to serve. We must touch them, and they us. It is not until their problems become our problems that we will ever truly be able to minister. Not in the sense that we care about them so much that their problems burden us emotionally, but rather in the sense that the problems we face in our lives are the same ones they face in theirs. When we suffer the violence of living with corrupt or absent police officers, when our property values drop because of corrupt banking practices, when our schools are failing and our jobs are gone, then we will be trusted to minister.


Decision-making and Delegating

Here are a couple articles that I found helpful:

Decision Tree

Communal Discernment

And here is a diagram that models consensus decision-making: