For those of us who have looked for hope in the homeschooling movement, the patriarchy movement, the neo-Calvinist movement, or any other movement.
Our only hope is in Jesus Christ alone, not only for our salvation in eternity, but for our day-to-day salvation right now. The primary purpose of the Bible isn’t for learning principles to live by. The primary purpose of the Bible is for knowing Him, in his kindness, goodness, greatness, and glory, and for seeing ourselves in relationship with Him.
If you seek Him there, asking the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to what He has to show you, you may be surprised by a whole new unfolding of beautiful truth about who He is and who you are. If the Scriptures have seemed impossible for you to read because they’ve been used to abuse you, maybe it’s time to try asking Him to get those old voices out of your head, and begin reading again.
Don’t expect to just get a vitamin pill for the day, though. Don’t expect to get principles to live by. Expect to learn to know God, the real God, especially as He reveals Himself fully through Jesus Christ in the New Covenant.
If you decide to take me up on it and begin reading the Bible when you haven’t been before, I’d love to hear about what the Lord is showing you regarding Himself. You can post here in the comments or write me privately. I’m praying for you.
Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.
This is so good, Rebecca. As I got a glimpse recently back into the oh-so-intellectual world of fundamentalism, my heart sank for the people still tied up in their chains. We need to be still and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, the One who wants to guide us, comfort us, bind our wounds. Men (and women) today are calling for people to listen to them instead of pointing their listeners back to God. The difference is subtle, and good people gather round these eloquent voices and cheer them on. Meanwhile, the bruised and broken are denied tender care by the ones God told to go…feed, clothe, give water, go to the aid of the oppressed. How have we gotten it so wrong?
And yes! I remember speaking somewhere about ten years ago and say, about my own years of growing up in fundamentalism, “I knew there was a Holy Spirit because I read about Him in the Bible, but I didn’t know what He had to do with MY life.”
The world of fundamentalism may be intellectual (some of them), but I think it’s also full of logical inconsistencies that, if they were willing to step back and examine, they themselves might wonder at.
And in answer to your question at the end, this is something I’ve given a lot of thought. I believe that the sermons and books about the grandeur of God, which have been like cool water to thirsty souls—and certainly were to me when I first discovered them in the 1990s—in emphasizing the first great commandment, *love God,* have neglected the second great commandment, *love others.* I didn’t come to this conclusion easily or quickly, but only almost in agony over time, asking the very same question you were asking. As I said in my last post (on anger), there are TWO great commandments, not one. Love God, yes! See Jesus Christ in His majesty and glory and splendor and power and worship Him, yes! But then instead of encouraging listeners and readers to turn inward with the “worst sinner I know” talk that can immobilize a sensitive conscience from having any real impact for the Kingdom, I would love to see them encourage listeners and readers to turn outward with the Living Water that the Holy Spirit is pouring into us as we continue to daily look to Him alone for our hope and sustenance.
Instead of simply giving lip service to wanting to help the abused (because no one can say they’re against that!) I wish they would look around and see that the abused are among them, sometimes being harmed by the very men who are in their pulpits, sometimes being protected by the men in the pulpits.
The idolatry of the “man” or the “movement” or the “system”–any of those can truncate a person’s ability to “love others” the way they need to be loved.
Ha ha! I bet you didn’t expect such a long answer to a rhetorical question! But it’s one I’ve been thinking about a lot.
Amen! I was just thinking a few days ago how I’ve longed for more deepness and substance and “new” learning because sermons and devotionals, etc. seemed all the same old things. Yes, I have not arrived and still battle sin and self. but I also need to learn more about God and doctrine. I went to Christian college and have a Bible minor. But God is not limited! Learning about equality and egalitarianism and abuse and evil through your blog and A Cry for Justice and CBE and Visionary Womanhood (Abuse Survivor) and Joe Pote and Tim from the Train Wrecks…and Marge from Aussie..Well these blogs have been from people who study scripture and Bible culture and Greek and Hebrew and translations……and it’s so exciting!!! I keep thinking why do they learn Greek in seminary yet never seem to use it and teach to the congregation? I keep thinking why when I ask a challenging question do they keep spouting wives submit to your husbands as the ONLY verse to “prove” their point? Didn’t these men study the Bible more deeply than that? I keep thinking that they are teaching my nephew this at his seminary and he is learning ESS–something I NEVER heard of in all my Bible and fundy background!! I tell him about this and that the Nicene Council didn’t agree and then I realize I never learned about the Nicene Council until now!! Then I realized that I was always an egal but never knew it. It’s wonderful to study deeply and learn what scripture and Paul really, really said and meant. And to study our Savior and His dealings with women. Refreshing!
For anyone reading who doesn’t know, ESS = Eternal Subordination of the Son.
“Complementarianism” and “egalitarianism” are terms that were invented in 1985 or so. That’s a debate in which I’m declining to take a label, considering myself “pre-1985” in my thinking. I simply want to learn what the Bible says, receive God’s transforming love for me, love Him above all, and love others as an outflow of that love. When I learn about teachings and behavior that don’t match with these Bibically foundational thoughts, then I know they’re wrong. Then I want to refute them from Scripture and point others to the truth, which is always, always ultimately to be found in the Living Word, Jesus Christ, whose character is clearly delineated in Scripture.
I see churchmen arguing miniscule points of doctrine (another focus of false hope: being “doctrinally pure”) while the abused are dying at their feet, sometimes literally. They are either ignoring the abuse (the “Possums”) or in some cases causing it (the Predators). I hope and pray that it’s obvious to anyone who opens their eyes that this is an appalling and horrible thing. “My people have committed two great sins. They have forsaken me, the fountain of Living Waters, and they have hewed for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” That Scripture has been uppermost in my mind for the last few days because I’ve been reading Jeremiah and working on a blog post that quotes these verses.