Holy Desperation



My teaching confused “swearing” and “swearing an oath”.

I swear when I miss and the hammer hits my thumb. Or when something dangerous happens.  Bad language, foul language, impolite language, inappropriate language …  “social law” teaching.

But swearing an oath is where I promise something with great personal drama.  Like a courtroom with the infamous “I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God”  (while holding “a bible”)!

And bad things happen when I “swear an oath” and then break it …  “biblical law” teaching.

‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven.  For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. ‘Woe to you, blind guides, who say, “Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.”  You blind fools!  For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred?  And you say, “Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.”  How blind you are!  For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?  So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.”   Matthew 23:13-22

Still the Chosen People.  A Warning Against Hypocrisy … Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees … The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times … The Day and Hour Unknown …

I have a thought and then a question.

My thought.

Anything that is “biblically correct” – everything that is taught as “scripturally correct” – must be of “the law” (or else why is it “correct”).   To be “correct” it must be weighed and judged against something.  And that something is “the law” because the bible is stuffed full of “law”.  The Old Testament is “the law” and the Chosen People lived by “the law”.  And Jesus came not to dismiss the law but to fulfil the law.   And that is the New Testament … “our (correct) bible”.

My question.

Isn’t EVERYONE who teaches a biblically and scripturally (in)correct bible teaching the law?  And don’t those “Woes Warnings” apply to all who teach?  Because isn’t this “teaching” debate all about “the law” as (re)written in our bible and (re)interpreted by us “spiritual lawyers” teachers?

A bible that has been manipulated by all and sundry to concrete-in a collection of words now set in stone.   A collection of words fictional and mystical and maybe even factual (some).  A collection of words primarily aimed at the Chosen People and then latterly at all.  Which makes us all teachers of the law and means that those “seven woes” we throw at others … they are written to all of us (especially when we think they are not).



An example today.

“Christ reveals himself in the deeply messy, profoundly awkward world of face-to-face human interaction with people in trouble, conflict, doubt, hunger, thirst, and pain.  The real encounter with Christ takes place not when we are all dressed up and polished and nicely groomed and brandishing our resumes but in our broken humanity.  Encounter with Christ happens in our longing for a kingdom that is not of this world and that we must search for and work for with all our might in this world.  We’re called to offer up our energy, time, and hearts—our very bodies—to “the poor”: which is to say, people who, for all our intelligence backed by willpower, we are never going to be able to rescue, shape up, or “fix.”  Excerpted from “Holy Desperation” by Heather King, Sacred Space

“Holy Desperation”, for me, says it all.  God is hard work.  God is complicated.  God is burden and sacrifice.  You need me to explain it.  The law says.


Love is easy.  God is love.

Why teach anything else?


“WTF … ? Have you even been to seminary … ?”