by Rev. Dee Miller – Visitation Pastor/Valpo FUMC
Dogma and Doctrine are important and hold a purpose in faith and in the church but they need to be combined with Holy Spirit as they are interpreted in today’s world. My husband was raised Roman Catholic and always referred to his religious upbringing as being indoctrinated with faith rules. My confirmation class back in the day was also a series of memorization of the books of the bible, of the apostle’s creed and different prayers. It seemed that it was assumed that if we memorized them that their meaning would become part of our spiritual lives. IT wasn’t until my senior high camping experience that I felt the Holy Spirit move in my life changing my attitude more towards aligning my life with what I was hearing in the scriptures. It was this conversion experience that allowed me to understand the need to open my heart and mind to the blowing of the Holy Spirit. It was this intention personal push to understand the scriptures and to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit that led me kicking and screaming with some self-doubt into ordained ministry. Even then, I realize that I am and always will be learning from God through the Holy Spirit.
My paternal grandmother was instrumental in helping me read different scriptures and helping me to apply it to daily life. She encouraged me to question what the Bible verses were saying to me as a teenager and later as a young mother. She always had me make notes in the margins with the dates so that as I grew in life and in faith, I could see how God continued to speak anew to me as my lens changed.
After years of Bible study both in seminary and in the church, I have come to appreciate Wesley’s quadrilateral of scripture, reason, tradition, and experience. IT is a lens used to inform our beliefs and the way we adapt to an ever-changing world while remaining faithful to the gospel values that are authentic. If we use this tool to inform our conversations, then we are less apt to be using scripture literally thus running the risk of using it for our own means. As disciples, we need to read scripture and apply reason and life experience to it and allow the Holy Spirit to open us up to understanding anew.
God came to this earth as Jesus Christ and showed up over and over again that we might know the Truth about God’s love for each of us. When we truly understand that in our heart’ mind and soul we will have been blessed by the Spirit.