The Bible, The Constitution, Health Care and Soul Care – Part 2
Yesterday, I began part one of this post by addressing the Constitution and Health Care. I don’t want to go back and rehash all of that, you can reread it for yourself. However, I want to use the ideas from yesterday as a parallel to what I believe is an even greater challenge facing us. As I stated yesterday, I believe that we have developed a schism of belief regarding our Constitution. One camp (which I am in) believes that the Constitution says what it means and means what it says. In other words, it is THE guide for our country as it is written. The other camp (which a growing number of leaders in Washington fall into) believes that it is a “living, breathing” document that we adapt to fit our times. I call this “situation governance”. In other words, the situation dictates what the Constitution should say… which ultimately means that we can read into it whatever we like based on our present circumstances.
I am wholly in disagreement with that point of view. It seems to me that the only way anyone can get to that perspective is either by ignoring the very document itself (it does speak for itself) and/or ignoring the authors’ expressions of what they meant. It is clear in the additional writings and quotes of many of our Founding Fathers what the underlying principles in our Constitution mean. You just have to read them….ahhhh, but there’s the rub isn’t it?
The situation in our country, as I see it, is bad enough. But there is a far more important issue that is running down a nearly identical track. That is the “unpinning” of our Christian faith. We have watched the Christian faith become less and less committed to its founding document and its Author. We have seen Christians become more enamored with their own intellect and their own “take” on the Bible to the point that we have almost become dismissive of the Bible itself.
Case in point: Brian McClaren is a well-known Christian author. He has been a leader of a movement called the Emerging Church for quite a few years. In the early going, many of his ideas were a breath of fresh air, yet still grounded in the foundation of scripture itself. His latest book release shows however, that he has wandered far from the truth. In “A New Kind of Christianity”, McClaren makes an off-the-chart claim about the Bible. According to McClaren we have seen the Bible as our “Constitution” but it really isn’t. We should think of it as a “portable library of 66 books that invite conversation”.
Can we be honest? Who doesn’t like conversation? Haven’t we had enough arguing? Why can’t we all just get along? It certainly sounds appealing. But it is WRONG! The Bible IS our Constitution. It IS our guide and direction for life. It says what it means and it means what it says. And if you have any questions… spend time with the Author… he is readily available. The growing problem with that point of view is that it just “feels” so narrow-minded. So limiting. And in a modern world….that just doesn’t set well with us. And so we begin to tinker, we begin to shave a little off here and a little off there, we begin to ignore, and ultimately we begin to change the very nature of what the Bible tells us is so. And the further most of us get from actually READING the document (the Bible), and the further we get from the Author, the less we recognize the change and the more readily we accept it.
I was in the bookstore last week when I saw a new book on the shelf with the title “If the Church Were Christian”. Being a curious sort of fellow and being intrigued by the title, I checked it out. Here’s the Table of Contents:
1) Jesus would be a model for living rather than an object of worship
2) Affirming our potential would be more important than condemning our brokenness
3) Reconciliation would be valued over judgment
4) Gracious behavior would be more important than right belief
5) Inviting questions would be valued more than supplying answers
6) Encouraging personal exploration would be more important than communal uniformity
7) Meeting needs would be more important than maintaining institutions
8 ) Peace would be more important than power
9) It would care more about love and less about sex
10) This life would be more important than the afterlife
Once again, at first glance, the chapter titles look appealing. But a closer look at the very first chapter tells you all you need to know. Jesus is a model for living…. But he is ALSO to be worshipped. He received and commended worship while he was here. If he is not to be worshipped, but is ultimately a model for living, then he is not God, and he is not a Savior.
Who doesn’t want people to live like Jesus? Wouldn’t we all be better off? Absolutely. But Jesus’ mission was not primarily to come and show us how to live, it was to die in our place to offer us salvation. But if the Bible isn’t our Constitution, but rather a “portable library intended to invite conversation”, then maybe we’ve got it wrong. If we’re not closely reading the Bible…. If we’re not staying close to the Author, then such suggestions not only sound appealing, they sound RIGHT!
The American church and the American Christian has allowed themselves to wander a bit too far from the source. We are no longer deeply committed to reading and understanding our Constitution of faith….the Bible. And we are no longer deeply committed to spending time with the Author in prayer. And the further away we wander, the more easily we are persuaded of things that are not true. And when our faith is no longer grounded on truth, but on perception of truth, we are in danger of completely losing our way. The alternative points of view often “feel” better, but they are not truth. And it is only the Truth that can set us free.
Let’s get back to the source…. Let’s go back to the foundations and roots of our faith…..Jesus Christ and the written Word, the Bible. Those are the things that ground and guide us and nourish our soul… everything else is shifting sand and background noise.