I’ve reading a couple of blogs from my internet blogging crew and got a bit worked up and want to let off some steam. My friend Luke recently posted on using the word “biblical” in front of something. My friend Yael then talked about on her blog how we sometimes act as though we have “God in a pocket.” Those things really light a bit of a fire in me so I am going to let loose.
Way back in college at a very ultra conservative religious school in the midwest, I noticed something that met me with a fair amount of disillusionment. It looked to me like the college would hire people who were sub-par performers at whatever job they were going to do just because they labeled themselves as “Christian.” That bugged me. Do we really have to settle for mediocrity because it is somehow the nice thing to do? Can’t we expect the best out of each other?
I see this same kind of thing happening today too. I used to have my kids in a Christian school because, of course, it was supposed to be the best for them. Public school is evil because there isn’t some direct connection to Christianity you know. But at this prior school there was available a Christian business journal. It almost gives me the creeps to think about it. It was full of a bunch of adds all with cute little fishies in the bottom corner or sometimes in all four corners. So I am supposed to think that these guys and gals are the best because of the fish. And maybe some of them are the best in end. But it is the exclusivity of it that bothers me. It almost heaps guilt and shame on the reader for choosing something other than the fishies. In fact, it probably does heap guilt and shame. That is the flipside of the message. Of course, I am a heretic for saying such. Who cares.
I think we use God as a genie much more than we care to admit. We decide what we are going to do, and then we assign God to it. We give it God’s blessing. We look up some obscure passage in scripture which proves that little green men live on the moon. And then we are all proud that we are following God’s will. And that of course is the ultimate trump card. Who can refute what God told us? It closes the door. My friend Yael says that she thinks we see in the bible whatever we want to see, and I think she is right. Fred Phelps looks for his justification for hating gays. Jim Dobson looks for his justification for heaping guilt on Christians who voted for Obama (which I did and I don’t). George Bush looks for his justification for pre-empitve war. Britain looked for its justification for the Crusades. And they all and we all thought we were doing what God told them to do. We use God as a genie to bless whatever it is we want to do. We treat God like a toolbox that we can pull out and use when we need to and then wail in grief when something bad happens. What a joke.
I think most of use worship idols. We work out our nice little theologies on how God is, on what God is like, on what God’s will is, and then fail to realize that God is too big to be boxed in. When we think we have him all figured out what we actually have is a golden calf. We have an image, a snapshot of God. But we worship that snapshot like it is God. That is idolotry. If you lose the fact that God is partly not able to be nailed down, you are committing intellectual idolatry in my opinion.
The Bible too. I see people treat the Bible like it is God. Our former Christian school had a statement in its list of crap that the Bible itself was the source of all truth. Really? All truth? There is no truth outside the Bible? The Bible tells us all we need to know about physics and medicine and rock climbing and triathlon and reading and educational technique and I think you get the idea? A rebuttal might be that it contains all the truth about God which is the ultimate truth? Really? Nature says nothing about God? Human experience says nothing about God? God doesn’t say anything to us other than through the Bible? I just don’t buy that crock of crap anymore. Treating the Bible like that is treating it like it is God. And it is not God. It is a book about God. But it is not God. To worship it is idolatry.
If I sound sarcastic and a bit angry then you have definitely read my tone appropriately. I am both of those things. It suprises me a bit to be honest, and maybe I have uncovered something within myself that I need to explore a bit more. If you care to know more about these ideas read How Not To Speak of God by Peter Rollins. A difficult but very good read. I have his second book coming soon from Amazon.