At the Wild Goose Festival we were part of a discussion with Nadia Bolz-Weber on the question of authority and the church. Like everything we attended at Wild Goose, it was invigorating and refreshing.
Because I knew some of what she was saying would draw fire in my world, I asked her how she would answer someone who trotted out Romans 13: 1-7 as proof of the notion that those in authority were put there by God and that we are therefore commanded to obey them. What do you do with those verses, I asked her.
Her answer was a little surprising at first, but the more I reflect on it, the more I like it.
She said something like, “We’re Lutherans. We don’t do anything with them. For us the Gospel is the canon within the canon. If something in the Bible isn’t consistent with the message of Jesus, we don’t have to follow it.” (That’s a paraphrase, but I think captures the point.)
As readers of this blog know, I’ve struggled with trying to make sense out of those seemingly bizarre verses. I still believe there is an explanation for them which doesn’t require disregarding them altogether. But until I properly understand the way to contextualize them correctly, I’m comfortable with my belief that read in isolation they aren’t consistent with the message of Jesus.
And therefore, I don’t need to do anything with them.