Sharper Than a Two Edged Sword
Even I have wondered if we ought to give the thing such a privileged place. I say “even I”, not because I am a “minister of the word” or even because I was an English teacher or even because I love books. I say “even I” because the words of these books have saved me at various times in my life. They have been grappling hooks that pulled me out of certain death, islands of lush green in barren lands, luscious fruit for one who is starving, constellations of stars that have allowed me to navigate from one place to another.
Still, I realize how dangerous the bible is in the wrong hands.
In his book The Great Spiritual Migration, Brian McLaren wrote, “Christianity is driving around with a license to kill, and that license is its Bible, read uncritically.” We all know the phrase “even the Devil can quote scripture,” but it’s not really the devil I worry about here. Throughout history, our sacred texts have been used to justify the ravages of slavery, to keep women in their “less-than” place, and to stoke the fires of violent contempt for people who are homosexual. These books have been used in the hands of hate, and I have only listed the major, obvious offences. How many souls have crumbled under its weight, under its call for perfection and its apparent threat of punishment and even death?
And, I love the bible. True, there are sentences I would happily strike out, and I do not accept everything written on its pages. I do not worship it, for I worship Love, the Living God who cannot be trapped on any page. And these scriptures nourish me. They are an endless feast for one who knows how to find the food.
In it we find people’s relationships with the Holy One, with one beyond our ken, with Mystery and Hope, with “why” and “if only” and “what next.” People struggle to find the words or the words flow from them like living water. These words are gifts to us, provisions left along the way for pilgrims on sacred journeys.
These words can be dead on the page. They can be used to instill death in others.
But the Living Word, the Word of God that breathes and sizzles and soars from those pages, that comes alive in community, that transforms death into live – that Word I hunger for, I feast upon. We all desperately need that Word.
What do we need to do to keep people safe from the bible? How can we learn to read again?
Can you and I explore these questions about the value of the bible and how we make meaning when we read it? Let me hear from you. Tell me where are you in relation to the scriptures these days. What should we do with this thing we call the bible, with this library of sixty-six books?
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