Scaraoke & Biblical Self-Defense
I am afraid that liberal Christians may be relying too much on biblical understanding and not enough on their own biblical reading.
Further, when we rely only on a certain handful of “go-to” scriptures (Micah 6:8, anybody) as opposed to committing ourselves to know the bible more wholly, we are robbing ourselves of a full understanding of our scriptures.
It would be like listening to our favorite songs without the music, or the beat, or the lead-singer who had the emotion and intention behind her!
Though it would make my mother proud, I am almost afraid to ask.
Have you read the Bible lately?
I’m afraid to ask because of the connotation that is more than likely attached to any conversation you might have ever had with somebody who asked you a similar question.
When I was feeling anxious as a college freshman, when I was battling addictive “medicine” in the valleys of a confusing time, and when I was worried about the health of my wife and soon-to-be daughter, I have had people ask me some near-rendition of “So, have you read your Bible lately?”
The literal suggestion in those instances is that there is wisdom in the scriptures that can be quite applicable to someone who is feeling alone and abandoned, powerless and stuck, or fearful and ill-prepared. However, the implication is that the answer is simple and already known by the one asking the question.
I think this is a fair generalization: fundamentalists use their bible.
They might not know the, but they certainly use the bible.
Fundamentalists use the bible to oppress those who doubt or struggle, enact their political agendas, and keep women, minorities, GBLTQ folk, and many more “in their places.” So, what do you use the Bible for?
I feel comfortable with an understanding of a God of justice and mercy but I have not always been as willing to struggle with the scriptures that don’t readily lend themselves to that portrayal of God. I haven’t always been as willing to read texts less accessible to me such as Hosea, Deuteronomy, and That Book Which Shalt Not Be Named By Progressives (Leviticus).
So instead, I have relied on biblical understanding – theologians, preachers, strangers, agnostics, fellow pew-sitters, priests, and rabbis – to guide me through my faith. However, relying on other people’s understandings robs me of the opportunity to become fully invested. It leaves me vulnerable.
It allows me to be a Christian with all my head, but not with all my heart.
Further, minimizing the Hebrew Bible minimizes the very God that Jesus understood (as illustrated in this wonderful article by Pete Enns). To minimize the Hebrew Bible is to miss out on the love of God’s people and God’s pain over human suffering as expressed in Hosea. To minimize the Hebrew Bible is to fail to acknowledge the hunger for God and the quest for righteousness of the Deuteronomists.
Perhaps the Bible doesn’t specifically say much of everything.
Perhaps what makes the Bible more complete is the diversity that it represents. Sort of like humanity, isn’t it?
If you, like me, are tired of a narrow understanding of the Bible, what are you willing to do about it?
Let us not grow weary of the fight to struggle with our text, claim our text, and use our text in the struggle to prove that our God’s justice and mercy go together like ramma lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong.