This morning as I began reading the Book of Esther, a favorite of mine, I was for some reason captured by the detailed description of the king's palace and even the vessels distributed to his guests, which the author describes as "diverse from one another."
It would seem that the probable author, Mordecai according to the Talmud, was in the room.
As I muse still further, it may seem that my attempt is to challenge the concept of "God breathed" likely taken from Second Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness"?
Rather, my goal is simply to draw attention to the possibilities that this concept has its limitations. Especially, if a "direct download" is in anyway implied from God to men and women just like you and me. Otherwise we must remove the possibilities of any personal or cultural shadowing. Some portions of biblical text cannot in any way be attributed to the God I know as reflected in the Christ!
Postering a direct download (which must by now sound preposterous) both affords cherry-picking of God's Word which is dangerous, and reduces the mystery of how this text by the Spirit can be so personally revealing and relevant today. I am persuaded that scripture captures our ways as much as God's. The Spirit aids us in both discerning between the two and then applying the true Word to our lives in the now!
During my days as an associate pastor, the doctrine of "God breathed" was well intended to protect the believer from their own thoughts, focused more the particular brand of denominational theology being offered (you might think about that before moving on).
Then also used at times for "reproof" when the personal notion of a pastor was challenged, which was often my assignment among laity, after a senior leader's offense, especially if that leader was less conflict oriented. Awkward moments too often endured!
This morning I found in Esther 1:8 a statement somehow overlooked in the scores of times that I have read this book: "And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel..." thus it would seem more probable that a devout Jew like Mordecai could have actually been present, retaining his sobriety while taking notes as this, King Ahasuerus let himself get a little too carried away!
If every word herein is actually God breathed, the writer having little sway, the writer's observations would seem likely more to the point, less detailed, he or she being of neccesity more focused on their download than I have been in my 50 years of listening for God.
This really is the first time I have thoroughly considered the thoughts implied in these first eight verses.
My point here is two fold, one that for the first time it dawns on me that Mordecai was likely in the room, special to the king and engaged in governance in his day (a role model for this former mayor).
Secondly, it seems that the Spirit keeps pointing out to me how well meaning religious leaders have been taught to use Timothy's statement over time to reduce the mystery of the Word to a text that narrows the likelihood of any one individual's interpretation over the centuries.
That's not all bad, and hear my cautious "well intended" unless that restraint was for control, an attempt to box God in, creating a dependency on clergy, which my guess was never intended by God. Why do I say that, we are all "a royal priesthood" with the Spirit of God dwelling richly within each of us, the very Body of Christ. Your thoughts matter! Of course couched in humility.
The Word is living, the text alone and apart from a discerning heart becomes mere law, a rule book, whether from the Old or the New Testament.
Even Paul warned: "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." Roman 7:6
I'll leave this alone for now, though the phrase "religious deconstruction" might well fit into my life right now.