Two weeks had passed since Tom passed around his unofficial rewrite of church-related scriptures. The previous Wednesday, the area had experienced a rare ice storm. Not only were the roads a skating rink but the Jollly Inn was without power. Sharon had called Father Randy that morning to let him know that breakfast wasn’t possible. The roads were so bad that none of the crew ventured out . . . except Tom. He walked in to find a closed inn . . . except for Arnie out chipping away ice from their steps.
Tom had never had a serious conversation with the man before, but he didn’t want to pass the opportunity. Tom gave him a hand with an old Ice Axe, which Arnie had saved from his more adventurous college days. Arnie continued to Sweep away the crumbled pieces with a broom.
Arnie looked at him, “So what’s your story? What are you up to here? These men are my friends and if you trying to swindle them out of anything, well for one, you will have me to answer to.”
Tom engaged in a lengthy conversation trying his best to assure the inn proprietor of his innocent intent. His words were a bit more palatable, being framed by the fact that Tom was giving a good effort of helping the man clear ice. Little did Arnie know that part of Toms drive with the task was his fascination with naturally occurring ice. He has never seen it before coming to earth.
But the next Wednesday, despite being far behind the lines of autumn, with October deeply entrenched, they had a warm sunny day. It must have been sixty by the time the morning group had dispersed . . .at 1 PM.
Tom had started the conversation that morning with some ground rules. “I’ve thought about this very carefully and before we start down this path, I want to clarify some principles. Please realize that my purpose here is to discover and understand what you have learned about the selected. We now have the scriptures, which I’m taking back with me, but we have no history with them. I want to be able to take back the knowledge that your cultures have accrued over the past two millenniums. However, as you well know, there are two parts to this. There’s the clear mandate from the scriptures, and there are the human institutions. The way I mean human institution is that . . . I guess you would say amoral . . . natural adaptation to an idea. I want to fillet away your culturally-based, human institution from the scriptural mandate. Simply, we have our own culture and we will create our own way of doing things. While I respect your traditions and culture, I have no desire to import that to my planet your culture anymore that I want to import some of your viruses . . . which we don’t have.”
Tom smiled at the group and waited for a response.
Father Randy spoke first, “Tom, I think that we might need to define even that statement more clearly. You see, in my church, we believe that God works through His inspired word but also through the working out of history, the wisdom of church leaders, namely our dear church fathers. So to separate our culture from the scriptures would be as complex as trying to unscramble this omelet” (pointing down has his 3/4s eaten smoked salmon omelet).
David cleared his throat. “This is one area I would differ very much from the father. We are a Bible church, as is Pastor Monroe’s church. We don’t believe that God speaks through men in the same way that God speaks through scriptures. We are pure Bible and nothing else. So it is easy for us to define the Church based on scripture alone.”
Tom paused for a moment while he stared out the window at the brilliant blue skies over the leafless trees. “But David, I’ve heard you many times say that God told you so and so or showed you so and so. Are you not referring to the same thing as the father? That God speaks through scriptures and through people or at least people’s interpretation of experiences.”
While David studied his own words carefully, Mike spoke up. “Tom, I think what David is trying to say is that we put the scriptures on a much higher position than maybe the father, Greg or Debra would. We believe that the scriptures are without flaw and are the only absolute source of truth. The individual experiences are the spice of the Holy Spirit, which clarifies scripture, but it must agree with scripture. It doesn’t add whole new concepts that were never there before . . . like the deification of the Virgin Mary.”
Father Randy was quiet so Debra spoke for him. She seemed a bit upset. “Now Mike, I think I’m a bit offended by that. I mean, I take scriptures very seriously, although I may not take this as literally as you do. You must also acknowledge that it was Father Randy’s church which gave us the scriptures.”
David let out a grunt, “Or rehabilitated them into their own, new religion.”
Tom seeing the conversation breaching the walls of his intent and just beginning to chase off into the wilderness he immediately took back control. “Gentlemen . . . and lady, I must insist that we pursue the topic at hand. With the parameters, which I’ve laid out, let’s step forward and pursue a clear understanding of the simple truth of how the scriptures teach us, the selected, to live together and nothing more.”