Saturday, May 14, 2011

In Christ There Is No East or West

somehow the hours in each day have been fewer in the last several days.  i can't account for how that can be, but that's the way life has been going.  there are a few thoughts buzzing in my head that I'd like to write about in a post, but until now I haven't been able to find the time.  maybe they needed more cogitating before I put fingers to keyboard.

as i rode my bike through the park the other day, i began to think about how much those who insist on interpreting all the bible's contents literally are missing.  if there must be a literal "adam" and "eve," that diminishes the adam and eve in each of us.  the story then becomes about the two parents of all humankind rather than about the relationship of each of us with the God of creation.  if there has to be a literal "noah," the story becomes one about a vengeful God who ends the lives of almost every creature on earth because most of them were so sinful rather than a story about the noah in each of us that the ark of God's love lifts above the turbulent waters of life.

why must we spend so much time searching for those proof texts that we can use to "prove" our narrow theological arguments, rather than seeing the bible as a living testimony to the great theme of God's love and God's unceasing effort to reconcile us to each other and to God?  when we try to make the bible a history book, when we ignore it's discrepancies or go to great lengths to explain them away, when we reduce the bible to a static document that can't have different meanings in different ages, we reduce it to a finished product that is much more limited and limiting than i believe God intended.  the bible is a living document that must be read with the light God gives us in our own time, and we must seek it's truth without forcing it to be something that it is not.

i have been troubled recently about the effort to portray the "Allah" of the muslim religion as a different God from the God of christians and jews.  this attempt to demonize muslims and inflame those inclined to bigotry is deplorable.  couldn't we say that the God of some biblical writers is a different from the God of other writers.  if we are honest, many passages seem to describe very different gods, and the perspective of one writer or one era regarding God may be very different from that of another writer working in another time or place.  do these differences mean that the God described by one biblical author is a different God than the one described by another?  no christian would answer that question in the affirmative.  

because one perspective about God is different from another, one can't assert that these perspectives describe different gods. it is not God who is different, but our perspectives about God that differ.  God is so infinite, so great, that we can never fully apprehend the true nature of God.  we must not allow those who would drive wedges between us to succeed in turning our perception of muslims into "those people" who worship a false god, when we have much in common with our muslim brothers and sisters.

my prayer for each of us is that we see beyond the limitations of the literalists to the underlying truth of God's love for us as described in the bible and that we seek those truths that bind us together rather than creating divisions that arise from fear and prejudice.

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