God-talk that serves more to disrupt than
Greetings from the mother lode of apostasy where the rule is to act dumb
whenever any scripture is quoted; where we probably need to post our controversial views from time to time about the bible,
so that others can see how far we have strayed from the narrow gate.
I’m reminded of a Sunday school class I once attended in Seaside, California.
The leadership had appointed a man named Roger, a controversial but very well-read biblical scholar whose spirituality was
not disputed, to be the teacher. He was controversial in that his classes were taught from that 4-legged stool Lietta referred
to in her post :scripture, prayer, tradition and reason.
In his very first class he offended those whom I now describe as literalists
with a view of the Bible as inerrant.
What was his sin that very first Sunday? He suggested that the brevity of
the Genesis story tended to cause Adam to look like a buffoon and proceeded to make a case that restricting ourselves to a
literal understanding was like eating the carrot sticks at a banquet but nothing more.
In making that suggestion, he aroused the defensive ire of four men in the
class who, the following Sunday, had all placed themselves at the front of the classroom seated with their Bibles open –literally
laying in wait to catch Roger at an offending word or phrase.
Roger continued each week to teach marvelous and thoughtful lessons for which
he was roundly thanked and complimented by the majority of us – but not the four “orthodoxy sheriffs” who
spent more class time flipping Bible pages than listening to and pondering what Roger had to say. Roger’s classes, for
the four guardians of what they considered the “true faith”, went clear over their heads while they strained at
gnats, having swallowed the camel of an idea that there was a strict way to read and interpret scripture and an even narrower-gate
by which one could gain entrance into heaven.
Because Roger’s presentation demanded spiritual thinking and not mindless
citing of verses, these four lost an opportunity to work with what he presented, having lost themselves in a very narrow and
dark passage. The sad part to me seemed that they seemed to fortify and encourage each other to interrupt the discussions
with attempts to make mountains of orthodoxy out of molehills of doctrinal ambiguity.
In Omaha, Nebraska, I witnessed another similar circumstance in which a recently
baptized young father was asked to facilitate a men’s study group. I saw him act in that role the single time he did
so while I was a member of that congregation.
In his only presentation, he was repeatedly interrupted by another man, only
slightly older (they were both medical students) but self-defined as having more years of “experience” and “Biblical
study” under his belt. Another sheriff personality – a self-appointed guardian of doctrine and orthodoxy whose
responses were not only limited to points of disagreement, but were also unnecessarily critical and given to slick phrases
of put-down (phrases not unlike “mother lode of apostasy” ) as he strove to fill his self-appointed role as Defender
of the Faith.”
What is it about the language or what I call now "God talk" that serves more
to disrupt than to unify? And I don't mean unify in a set of exact same beliefs, rather in a teambuilding of the spirit of
compassion as it seems to me Jesus attempted to teach?
If we were to learn that the Christ Story is myth, would that make the Sermon
on the Mount, The Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan less valuable? If so, why?
This act of sacrifice Jesus gave for redemption of mankind (women too?) is
a message lost on us (generally speaking) when we still continue to insist on a "correct" dogma before we can benefit by the
Jesus sacrifice. Do you insist on a correct dogma before one can benefit by the Jesus sacrifice?
The history of Cathars like much other history of persecution under Christianity
that does not bear a likeness to the message and teachings of Jesus speaks to me of how permission is granted by the fact
of the bible itself to act in discord to the message Jesus brought. Portraying violence in a religious context to push a doctrinal
point of view while failing to portray violence in another religious context that questions the behavior of those who professed
to be followers of Jesus is hypocritical. Using violence as a motivator is a poor tactic.
The classic logical next question to ask upon hearing the question “What
would Jesus Do?” is, "Did the apostolic ancestors do what Jesus did when they burned heretics and falsely labeled women
as witches and butchered them?"
They quoted the Bible, justifying torture and murder with Leviticus 20:27,
Deuteronomy 13:3-5 and other “inerrant” verses. Jesus quoted the Hebrew Scriptures but not those two verses. While
picking apart posts according to your sense of doctrine, true faith and narrow gates, you have yet to speak of these issues.
Rather than focus on correctness of how to read, interpret the bible and
how to follow the Christian path, I wonder if the deeper meanings of the death scene of Jesus isn't lost on us when we try
to put it in context based only on bible storyline. Had he thought he could suffer this kind of death on behalf of mankind,
as the divine Son of God and put right all that was wrong with mankind, there would not be the continuous aftermath in history
of torturous violence mankind annihilating mankind.
If that is what is taught, does it make sense that the Divine, having insisted
on Divine righteousness in the Sacrifice of his only Son would be righteously satisfied that all was again well with the flawed
world He, the Creator, created?
Does it not It surely serve to diminish the act of Jesus if, in fact, nothing
was learned in his sacrifice except that there is a correct way to believe and only in so doing can one be a correct Christian.?
Is this not borne out in the historical persecutions of Christians against
other Christians for a perceived incorrect or heretical view of the "sacred text?
Is it not true that It was exactly the sacred text of the time and the manner
in which it was dispensed that Jesus took exception to in his ministry and his willingness to die the torturous death to make
Do you think that part of Jesus’ intent was that if he did this act
of sacrificing his own life with a recognition of knowing what he would have to endure - that the message for all time he
hoped to convey was it never need be done again?”
Nobody wants to see Christ and the sacred hung at the entrance hall of a
3 ring circus. Neither does anyone want to see Christ and the sacred hung at the entrance hall of a poorly-defined orthodoxy
where the foundation of a false “true faith” was laid by the guile of Church fathers 200 years after the crucifixion;
political clerics who voted on what went into the Bible and what disagreed with their own points of view and political needs
and was left out.
We all seem to know where we disagree. What we don’t seem to know is
whether we can learn from each other and grow from the experience.