This bible stuff.
The on-going battle over the bible. All this “He said” stuff, all the “Why didn’t He say” stuff, all the “So why the genocide” stuff, all the “But none of it can be proven – so why believe it” stuff.
The bible generates so much “stuff”. Most of it divisive.
Those who call themselves Christians argue with those who call themselves Christians. Those who call themselves Christians learn not to argue with those who call themselves Christians. Those who don’t call themselves Christians argue with those who do. Those who don’t rarely argue between themselves.
(anyone else notice that curiosity?)
I see a huge catalogue of religious labels / language grown out of qualified theology. All in the name (I was told) of making conversation (debate) easier between Christians. I was told that debate is good. So labels are necessary to keep the debate going. Or else debate would stall because everything would take so long to explain. And that would never do (I took from that train of thought).
These are all real conversations. There is not a “straw- man” being built up to be torn down later.
I was also told theology is simply talking about God – no labels required. I was told that God is a mystery none of us can understand – but then offered a course which explained it all.
Doesn’t this “qualified theological language” do three things.
a) keeps the mystery a “mystery”.
b) ignores any difficult questions.
c) demands membership and adherence.
Because, along the way, I have talked to those who use a different sacred text … those who think sacred texts are all fairy stories … and recently those who think that sacred texts and religion are poison.
Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but I love them all – because I see love in all.
People who cut themselves. People who live with the consequences of suicide. Of terminal illness of a young one. Of an old one. Of debilitating illnesses that take the person away long before they die. Of those who are homeless. Of those who see God as literally as the black and white words of a printed bible. Of those who extract and cherry-pick the bits that make sense of their god-view. Of those who extract and cherry-pick to validate the grossest of human indecency. Who justify inhumanity done to others.
I have found that, somewhere in each, is the desire to love and be loved without condition.
Love is the universal for me.
But I have a problem.
We seem to expect each other to align with one club or another. We seem to need that. Which may explain why there are so many clubs. And may explain why I have no need to belong to any. Which also seems to invalidate anything I have to say.
Like I now find the bible not to be true. Not in the way we use it (and abuse it) today. The bible – as I am asked, expected and taught to use it today – “cramps my style”. It makes me create (evolve) a love that hits a “glass ceiling”. A ceiling of qualified theology. It teaches a God that I am unable to love unconditionally. I am taught He can love me that way – but not the other way around. And that is because I am a sinner. And that is because of Adam and Eve. Which means I am fallen. And that means – despite now being saved – I am still just a frail human. Still sinning. Still needing forgiveness. Still not up the standard of unconditional love.
That is why I have a problem.
I think I am. I think we all are already.
Which is why I am always wowed by “ordinary members”. Those who have every reason to reject “a being of universal love” (by whatever name they prefer), but who instead seem drawn closer. Drawn beyond the need to define every clause and condition of membership. Who find love to be the answer without even being able to verbalise that simplicity. I wonder if that is – my experience – because qualified theology denies it is that simple. Except I find that a lot of ordinary members think it is. Who also think they are wrong for thinking that.
Along the way I have met “ordinary members” full of love who live believing (at some of the most traumatic times of living) that they are alone. That this “God” of love is not. That the conditions required for love are qualified – beyond their “pay grade” of membership. And who have few places to share their doubts AND their hopes.
Because we have also been taught that “these people” might steer us from the straight and narrow with their doubts and hopes. And anyway its all so embarrassing – all this emotion on display.
Still no straw-man. Still real conversations with real people. Many of them in this online community.
I finds that “stuff” cramps my style.
What about you?