Monday, February 27, 2006

Bible as Our God?

Not long ago my oldest daughter, Jennifer Toombs, sent me the following quote from Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"People are disillusioned with religion today. So many wicked things have been done in the name of religion - - in the name of the Bible. People can justify anything using the Bible. If all of the sudden the Bible becomes your God, rather than God being your God, it's the same thing as money being your god or whatever it is. It's gonna corrupt your spirituality. And it can be used by people to dominate other people."

You can hear the entire interview by going to:

Jennifer sees what lots of people are coming to realize.

Religion can be deadly.

And, ironically, the Bible can be complicit in the spread of the death.

So, how can you tell when the Bible is being misused in a potentially deadly manner?

This seems to me to be an important question for people who live and work in urban settings today.

Try this list as a beginning.

It could be that the Bible is being misused. . .

. . .when you hear it quoted to personally attack individuals or groups of people.

. . .when folks tell you how current events are in fact clear evidence of God's judgment.

. . .when various, unrelated passages are connected to predict coming events with certainty.

. . .when people are excluded or considered "second class."

. . .when we turn to it for the creation and promotion of single-issue social agendas.

. . .when. after reading it, I always feel right and judge others to be obviously a bit off center.

. . .when ancient, obscure, oblique texts are considered on a par with clear principles such as the Golden Rule.

. . .when my religion and religious tradition comes off as obviously better and more correct than yours.

. . .when hatred is justified.

. . .when I feel that I can forgo kindness.

. . .when I feel superior to anyone.

. . .when I can choose not to see, embrace or attempt to relieve the pain of another human being.

. . .when, after reading it for years, I do not understand the central importance of caring for the weak, the marginalized, the poor and the oppressed.

. . .when I cannot find a way to matter in this here-and-now world for all of my concern about the next life.

. . .when any part of it "trumps" the life,words and work Jesus.

Maybe you have your own list.

Let me hear from you.


Anonymous said...

I would say that the last one bothers me the most. Specifically, when there are people who cite the writings of Paul out of context and above the actual words of Jesus from the Gospels. I find that Paul's work can be the most challenging, and often most misinterpretted, sections of the New Testament. Would love to hear your take on Paul.

Chad said...

Larry - this is a great list. I'm going to forward it to my friends whose only experience of Christians comes from people who misuse the bible. I remember Landon Saunders saying how the only way he used the bible in public was "as a living text, written on my heart" (or something to that effect. I'm almost with Stanley Hauerwas on this: one of the best things that could happen to the church would be to take our bibles away so we could just hear the story of Jesus and learn to live by it.

Chris Thompson said...

"...when I feel superior to anyone."


...when a nation feels superior to anyone.

...when the materially blessed feel superior to anyone.

Anonymous said...


...if you're taking sides in a certain Middle East conflict not because you want to see the peace in the region but because you want to accelerate the Apocolypse

(I know Larry aluded to this, but I wanted to put a finer point on it!)

Jim said...

...when matters of personal morality outweigh our responsibility to the weak and downtrodden.

...when we dissect it to find worship rules, only to forget its more direct instructions in grace and mercy.

...when we spend more time finding out how it can justify our prejudices rather than listening for its teachings.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dad. Janet deserves the credit for this one.
Love the post!

Thad Jennings said...

Larry.....How we need to know the Living Word himself! The written words can be sculpted and rearranged to fit or say whatever the flesh desires, but the Living One cannot and will not. John 5:38-40

I'm glad I found your blog......I've know for a long time you had a heart for the Lord. If you don't remember, I'm Donnice's oldest son.

Larry James said...

Thad, I knew immediately who you were! So good to have you in this "space." Your comments and reactions will be most welcomed and helpful.

I love your parents, and of course, have loved your mom all of my life!