Fundamentally About the Text

Earlier this year, I was kicking off a consulting engagement (I'm blurring the details, which aren't important to my story anyway, for purposes of confidentiality), and my client meeting was going nowhere.  Well into our time together, I suggested that we were talking ourselves in circles and should go back to the legislative language that was supposed to circumscribe our task at hand.  My remark was met with a range of reactions, mostly bemused and patronizing, like "isn't that sweet, he thinks we should follow the letter of the law; OK, whatever, kid." 

Perhaps it was naive of me to think that our work would be guided by, I don't know, the law of the land, instead of by the agendas of the stakeholders gathered together for the engagement.  I'm willing to concede that that is how this world works, and that that isn't the worst thing in the world.

But it made me think of what seems to be going on within our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  And I'm not really talking about the recent amendment about gay marriage, although that appears to be held up as the litmus test by both sides of that argument.  

I'm talking more fundamentally about the role of the Bible in governing how we are to be as a denomination in the year 2012.  Far too often, I see contemporary Christians trying to figure out a palatable position within our modern culture, and barely attempting to back into a Biblical backing for that position, let alone letting the Bible dictate the position first without regard for how it might "play" to today's ears.  

Christianity is, at its core, a religion of the text.  Our understanding of that text may evolve over time - it is a living, breathing document - but it remains our guiding post, not an afterthought to be inserted, if convenient, after we've figured out our own way to be relevant/considerate/influential.  

Sadly, we Christians are either afraid to represent our text to the world or have squeezed out all of its power and drama before it gets to those around us.  It doesn't have to be this way, and it doesn't require compromising the texts or sexing up the stories.  When Jesus walked among us, He was the fulfillment, and not a contradiction, of the Scriptures that came before Him - and trust me when I say He was fresh, provocative, and interesting.  Let it be said of 2012 Christians that we were true to our text, and that the text was found to be fresh, provocative, and interesting as well.  

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