Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Christians are Scheming Swindlers

In my previous post I blogged on the lections (Bible readings) for last Sunday, lamenting the way both the theological right and left have selective hearing. Then I came across this gem by nineteenth-century philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard:

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you?

(Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard)

Why is it that we let pastors, biblical commentators, Christian authors, and even (gulp) bloggers talk us out of the plain meaning of scripture (if there is such a thing)? It was the serpent who beguiled Eve by asking, "Yea, hath God said . . .?" (Gen. 3:1) In other words, "God didn't really mean that, did he?" Selective listening is a ubiquitous problem that makes the whole world hard of hearing. We all twist scripture for our own self-serving purposes at times. I want the Bible to speak to me in a way that rouses me out of my spiritual lethargy, but I'll admit don't always feel that way. Lord, Give us ears to hear what you are saying!

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