Friday, February 09, 2007
Trying to Gently Open a Can of Worms
Here’s a question for which I’ve never really found a good answer. Another good thing about not being a professional pastor anymore is the freedom to ask such questions and not feel like I might lose my job if I opened my mouth. When Jesus was nearing the end of his days on earth, he was readying his disciples for his departure. He obviously knew more about what was coming than they did, which is why he said he had more to say, but they could not bear it. In John 16, as he hints of his leaving, he assures them that they will not be alone, that another termed the Counselor will come to take his place. This Counselor will help them determine right from wrong, and how to judge between the two. He assures them they will be better off when this happens. My curiosity wonders, “Why didn’t he say I will send you a Bible?” But today, in my tradition, the sermons I’ve heard about the Bible, the admonitions to read, study, memorize and defend the Bible, far outweigh the ones on the Counselor. In some ways it feels like I have replaced Jesus’ word for Counselor with a modern one named Bible. I’m starting to wonder if I’ve missed something here. I don’t find many who meet me here in the middle ground of this question. There is the one side, who upon hearing the question, scream “heretic” and hand me a 32 disc series of suppository preaching from John MacArthur, while the other side would not engage the conversation either and say its just a bunch of bullshit anyway. I don’t plan on throwing out my Bible any time soon, for it is the Bible that is leading me to these questions, which endears me to it even more. But this way of thinking about it won’t do for those in authority in my tradition. The Bible is Answer. It is Science and Hard Fact. It is Evidence That Demands a Verdict. In this way, it is also modern. And as the leader of the Church of the Future, one must be aware of this partiality. Failure to do so indicates that the church will continue to reach only modern minds, of which there are fewer and fewer. I’m beginning to consider the Bible like good art. Great art never seeks to satisfy, but only to point to a larger story, often that story is what lies deep within. It’s why artists are usually on the fringes, frequently misunderstood. They are doing their job. I’ve never met an artist who wants to hang his work on the wall; hoping people will just glance at it, and walk away.