Saturday, February 9, 2008

Thoughts On The Bible

Christianity generally, and the Bible specifically, are subjects in need of exploring because a great many people respond to homelessness through them. Can there be a more easily manipulated person, to a confession of faith, than one suffering the burdens of homelessness? Some Christians will declare that during such difficult times, Christianity is in most need. Yet others will declare that people become homeless through Divine intervention - a ruse by God to get wayward people’s attention. I can’t tell you how many times a chaplain at the rescue mission chapel service declared to the coerced attendants, “It is no accident that you are here tonight.” Sadly, the rescue mission staff does not allow dissenting views to be expressed, on this subject, or any other.

Most people who feel compelled to bring Christianity to the homeless will declare the inerrancy of the Bible. The justification goes thusly - if the Bible is perfect, and they are preaching “from” the Bible, then the words they speak as they preach are also perfect, to be considered dutifully, without question. Such proclamations made so often at the begin of chapel services at the mission has caused many, including myself, to automatically turn off my attention, and dismiss whatever the chaplain is saying. On the other hand, if the chaplain starts out on the right foot, with humility and practicality, I’ve give him a listen. (and in this instance I use the pronoun “him” because women are not allowed to preach at the mission. Although the rescue mission claims that it is non-denominational, only fundamentalist views are allowed to be expressed at the mission.)

The Bible is not perfect, and there is plenty of reasonable proof of its imperfection. But, really, does the Bible have to be perfect? I don’t think so. God is still God, with, or without it. For some, though, their faith is founded on the Bible. In their twisted logic God can be proven to not exist, if the Bible can be found to be lacking. What a terrible state they put themselves in. Instead of having a relationship with God, they have a relationship with the Bible. And instead of developing a life in relationship with God, they spend all their time trying to defend the Bible, defend their faith, defend “Christianity,” etc., etc. But, God needs no defenders. God is perfectly capable of defending himself, and desires for us to instead spend our lives doing His will. A real Christian is not one who makes signs to the world that they are Christian, but is one who feeds the hungry, shelter the cold, provides for the needy, etc. A person who spends all their time trying to convert the already converted, and ignores or neglects their needs, is nursing a dead faith.

I often wonder where the body of Christ would be if we didn’t have the Bible, if the words of 2000 years ago were never put into print. I imagine that us “Christians” would be more alive in Christ, having a more dynamic relationship with God, because they are not confining their lives to the stories and few teachings found within the Bible. When witnessing to non-believers they wouldn’t turn to the Bible, as they do today as a crutch, but would instead relay their own real and personal experiences with the almighty. Churches and their doctrine would appeal more to the contemporary needs of people.

But today there is almost no accurate relating of God to people and their needs. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the story of the prodigal son at chapel services at the rescue mission. But let me tell you, folks, the story of the prodigal son is not a story about homelessness. There are no, sons-of-wealthy-land-owners, hanging out at the rescue mission after squandering their inheritance. That story doesn’t apply to us homeless. Please stop trying to make that square story fit into our round lives.