#0096 Does the 1-book view of the Bible open up pathways of self-righteous attitudes and behaviors?
Scripture relevant to today’s posting…
Story of the Word
1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
2 The Word was with God in the beginning.
3 Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being 4 through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.
6 A man named John was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8 He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light
Shortly I will begin a new series of postings outlining another section of the book I am working on. The focus of this section of the new book as well as the series of postings has to do with differences between the words of the Bible and the Word of God as it is described in John 1. In preparation I am posting some excerpts from The Jesus Clone which might be helpful in getting us ready for the topic. Once again I want to mention that the main thrust of the new book is to offer a new Christian narrative which I certainly believe the Church is overdue for.
The Bible as a Roadmap
The Bible has been metaphorically referred to as a guide book containing Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Sometimes it’s referred to as a map…a roadmap to guide you on the correct road to God or heaven. But if we think of it as a map, it is a very untrustworthy map or a map that is always changing; one that if you follow it, will take you to an unknown destination. A map is supposed to guide us in a certain direction, but the past is full of examples of the Bible taking people off course and away from God (the Jesus-God). There are countless bigger-than-life examples of this happening which have resulted in polarized ideologies and even nations becoming pitted against each other: Protestants vs. Catholics; Arabs vs. Jews; liberals vs. conservatives, to name but a few. These divisions can be indirectly or directly traced back to origins having to do with rationales derived from the 1-book perspective of the Bible. It is safe to presume the likelihood of other examples existing which are maybe not as overt as these but still very consequential. Why then do we continue to put so much stock in the 1-book Bible? Knowing the 1-book Bible is unreliable how can we recommend it to others as a resource for finding God? How can we trust it ourselves? It would be one thing if innocuous or diminished results came from such dependence upon this 1-book Bible, but much of the time truly evil and destructive ends come from doing so.
Persuasive men in positions of leverage wield select 1-book Biblical doctrines to proclaim their own divine endowment to speak for God. They weave Bible passages into tapestries of deceptions or piece together Biblical bric-a-brac in a silvery-tongued preaching style…all to build their case around why it is they (and they alone) possess the full weight and measure of God’s authority. This tendency is called self-righteousness. The self-righteous mindset is what the Pharisees had and they stuck it right up in the face of Jesus. Jesus has a difficult (if not impossible) time with this tendency. Maybe you’ve witnessed it on display, come up against it or perhaps have used it or been affiliated with a group using it! I am not saying that the Bible is in and of itself self-righteous, but the 1-book perspective of the Bible tends to open up a pathway to self-righteous attitudes and behaviors. The Bible is jam-packed with inspired writings however, from the 1-book perspective it’s all over the place coming across as a riot of mixed messages. It has become like a prize fighter all jacked up on steroids who, bobs and weaves, ducks and jabs—constantly working the speed bag or shadow boxing—and ends up hobbling himself or punching himself in the face! On the one side the Bible tells the story of Jesus and the good news about His Father’s love and Kingdom, etc. On the other side, though there are passages about judgment and condemnation and hell and eternal damnation; it purports heady and explosive conditional messages that everybody better listen to! There are plenty of persuasive men of God who like to bandy these latter passages about in the form of threats and warnings that bolster the rightness of their own doctrinal perspectives and at the same time harangue outsiders into their flock using a shepherd’s staff of fear.
With so much emphasis placed on doctrine and so much effort put into building up scriptural support for doctrine; the collective Christian mindset says that correct doctrine is where the sweet spot in a relationship with God resides. Christians have come to think that God’s love and His acceptance of them is based upon their system of beliefs. And in this mindset have arrived at the notion that His love for them is proportional to the accuracy of their belief system about Him. Have these Christians fallen into the same trap as the Pharisees? If Jesus were to approach their group and challenge them with probing questions about unconditional love, would they use doctrinal weapons against Him? Where does this idea come from…that God is performance-based in His evaluations and judgments of people? The Bible.
But this claiming the 1-book Bible as the foundation of a single correct belief structure is a slippery slope. Doesn’t Fred’s church claim the same thing? But based on what our group over here believes the Bible says—Fred and his people are all going to hell because their beliefs are incorrect. So at the end of the day…whose beliefs are the correct ones? They both claim the Bible as their foundation and if you go into some depth examining them, each story would sound pretty good. But each group believes that they can’t both be right! How can there be discrepancy if each is 1-book Bible-based in their beliefs? If what one believes is important in God’s eyes or vital to our pursuit of a valid relationship with God, Then wouldn’t God have provided us with a much more clear and less confusing roadmap with which to find our way towards Him?
If we were to turn away from the 1-book perspective for a minute and turn to consider Jesus—His actions and teachings; might we begin to entertain the idea that God loves us no matter what?! And that He may be promoting this unconditional love in and through us that we might in turn direct it toward one another?! Who will step up to this new Christ-modeled paradigm? Who will muster the intestinal fortitude to let go of a tradition that uses exclusion and competition as its stock in trade and begin entertaining the concepts of diversity, integration and bridge-building? Will it be some particular denominational group? Will it be a gathering of the lunatic fringe from a few different denominational groups? What about non-Christians who have a sensibility for Christ’s teachings and approach to life?! What about agnostics and atheists? However the shift occurs, it needs to be in place, up and operating to such an extent that when Jesus comes a-knocking, to put forth His challenges to them, they will not only be tolerant of His views, but eager to roll up their sleeves and actively follow His lead in some divine experiment inspired and guided in love and fueled in the deep mysteries of God.
The Jesus Clone Pp.: 161-163
If you have a question or thought about this or other postings please feel free to send them in. As always, thanks for reading.
TBC: Sunday, June 05, 2016