Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Holy, Perfect, and Clear

I'm currently reading Peter Enn's book, How the Bible Actually Works.  I picked it up because I very much enjoy (and learn from) his (with Jared Byas) podcast, The Bible for Normal People.  If you can follow that weirdly constructed sentence, then , go , now and subscribe to that podcast.

In the very beginning of the book, Enns writes, "The spiritual disconnection many people feel today stems precisely from expecting (or being told to expect) the Bible to be holy, perfect, and clear, while in fact after reading it they find it to be morally suspect, out of touch, confusing, and just plain weird.  As you read that sentence, what is your reaction? Are you thinking, "Yes, I know what he means?" or are you thinking "Sacrilege!  Why is she reading that book?"

I want to approach the Bible the way God intended for me to approach it.  I want to be prepared to hear the Word of God through it, and not what other people tell me I should hear.  I want to respect this gift we have from God and not misuse it.  

When I hear someone say that the earth is 6000 years old or so, because the Bible told him so, I cringe.  When I hear that a Southern Baptist Church can be removed from their convention by appointing a woman as senior pastor, because the Bible told them so, I cringe.   And when I hear that a loving gay couple is rejected because the Bible says their love is an abomination, I cringe.  And all of these actions are taken because people say the Bible is holy, perfect, and clear.

I believe the bible is holy.  I have never found the Bible to be clear.  Ever.  It is wonderfully complicated and contradictory.  And if it is perfect, it is perfect in its depth and wisdom, not in its infallibility. And there are those of you who have stopped reading now, and doubt my connection to God. That's OK.  I love  you anyway, because the Bible told me so. Which it does.

Enns talks about the Bible as a book of wisdom, leading us to God.  It is a book (or several books, stories, letters, poems, etc) that speak to us of God, and through which we can find God, and because of which God can reach us.  It is a book that leads us to an understanding of who God is.  

It is complicated and contradictory and lovely.  It is full of people's experiences of God.  It contains a depth that none of us have yet to completely understand or explore.  It is holy.

And for me, when we call it simple and clear, we disrespect it.  And when we use it to support our own beliefs instead of allowing to be a conduit of grace and a means to wisdom, to take the Lord's name in vain.

We all need to stop doing that.  

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