‘What’s the Bible saying to the debate and what’s this debate saying to the Bible?’
This is the fifth of a series of postings that relate to a research project I’ve been conducting on using a model of practical theological reflection in relation to the independence question that is being put to voters in Scotland on 18th September this year. You can read about the project in more detail – including an explanation about the model of reflecting here.
I’m going to share, suitably anonymised, some of the observations made by the focus participants. You’re invited to take part too – online – as the series of posts unfolds.
In the first posting I presented some of the stories that participants told when I asked them to start off the group conversation by giving an example of their own independence. In the second posting I reproduced some examples of how the participants described what’s been going on in terms of the debate. In the third posting we saw some participants’ analysis of why the debate is like it is. The fourth posting included some of the bible passages brought by the participants, and part of their explanation of why they made that choice.
Here are a few examples of what participants thought the bible might be saying to the debate and what the debate might be saying to the bible and our reading of it.
[The scriptures] affirm the aspect of what society do we want to live under and which system of government would give that greater chance of achieving the society we think we want to live under based [on our] interpretation of the scripture. Clive
One of the things I was looking at first of all, was to see what it said about weapons, because Trident was something I feel so strongly about. And then were are so many verses in the bible that says, take up a sword and if you’d – what is it, if you don’t have money then, if you don’t have a sword then get money to get a sword –and things like this. And I though, oh, can’t go down that road. Ursula
And what we see in all of the churches at the minute is they’re struggling with so many things that the rest of society has kind of moved on from that you tend to think, for heaven’s sake. Sadie
What in the Christian tradition challenges independence and what affirms it? If you see independence as simply Scotland becoming self-governing then maybe not very much – either way. But if you see independence as, what I describe as the wrong kind of independence, where it sets up exclusive boundaries and a kind of nationalism that is more about pride and a kind of me-first attitude in terms of fiscal policy that keeps money for ourselves, then there’s a lot in the Christian tradition that would challenge all of those. Moira
The Bible was written at a time when, by people, who didn’t live in a democracy…the prophets were speaking to monarchs whereas we’re thinking about how to exercise democratic control. And the message social justice message remains the same but…how we think about legitimacy, government’s legitimacy has changed for better. It makes it difficult to read things directly into it. Edwin
[Facilitator: What would be a reasonable criticism coming from the wider Scottish community to that sort of vision from Christian scriptures?] They could point to sectarian divisions and denominations. And they would. They could point to abuse of power by people in charge of vulnerable people. Adrian
Questions for you to consider and perhaps post a comment in response:
- What do you think the Christian scriptures affirm and challenge about the current independence debate and the way it’s being conducted?
- What do you think wider Scottish society affirms regarding Christians’ ideas about the independence debate?
- What challenges from wider society do you think Christians need to take on board?