All religions have scripture, the word of God funneled through specific men. Which, when you think about it, it’s an admission that God doesn’t speak to the mass of us. That is, we yearn and yearn to hear what God wants from us—but He’s silent and invisible. He says nothing. So, desperate, we cast about for someone human to give us revelation—an Oracle.
Consider the early Christians. They had no scripture, as such, just stories passed around the campfire about Jesus, which was fine. Really, there was no need for parsing theological niceties. The world was about to end. Just make sure you’re wearing clean underwear.
But, as it turns out, the world didn’t end. Jesus didn’t return—which was an embarrassment, frankly. Once they explained this all away, the early Christians set about looking for scripture. They needed the silent God to speak.
What they had were letters Paul had written to various churches, letters that are full of contradictions and half-formed theology. So they called them scripture eventually. And then the gospels were written, all influenced by the theology of Paul and each composed by and for a different Jesus community. The most popular of these gospels became scripture. Survival of the Fittest.
But we’re no better off than we were without scripture. It’s not like scripture really solves the whole problem of Knowing God’s Will. The Bible’s often vague and confusing. Want to start a fight? Go to your local bar, expound loudly about your assuredness of What Scripture Says and watch the fur fly.
But what makes us think that the God Who Hides would suddenly open Himself up to the various authors of scripture? If He could do that, why not just reveal revelation to everyone? Why the intermediary of scripture? Just talk to us. But He doesn’t. He hides.
And it’s all about how to please God—not really stuff we need. If God can reveal Himself to men and women, why not reveal the cure for cancer? Lord, just reveal it to one scientist! Doesn’t haven’t to be everyone. Just one guy, like when you told Paul the secrets of the Godhead. Is it really that crucial that we have correct doctrine—that we have a correct understanding of God? Is God even understandable?
Why is that so important?
We just accept the fact that God has given us doctors and scientists to ferret out the mysteries of life and death, but correct doctrine, correct doctrine is so important that He’s going to circumvent all this and speak specifically to select men and women—mostly men—who will write down what they hear and hand it off to the rest of us hapless boobs. But, ironically, scripture doesn’t solve anything, as I’ve already said. People piss and fight over correct doctrine endlessly, each citing verses, often the very same verses.
So what’s my point? Go ahead and read your scripture. But pick and choose what you’ll attend to. Use your brain. Focus more on reason than revelation. All holy books are full of gems. But you’re just as likely to encounter profound truth over a beer with a buddy—or by reading The Brothers Karamazov. Or having really good sex. Or getting high—it will be legal everywhere pretty soon. (I recommend edibles) Truth is everywhere waiting to be discovered.
Photo: Syrian refugees, one of them holding copy of the Koran, shout Islamic slogans against Assad at Boynuyogun refugee camp in Hatay province in Turkey. Syrian border March 16, 2012 by Freedom House CC BY 2.0
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