Founding father Thomas Jefferson did not believe in the ‘supernatural” parts of the Scriptures, though he claimed to hold to the moral teachings and principals found therein.
Evidently he held to them except when he was sleeping with his slaves, but I digress…
So…he just clipped out the parts of the book he didn’t like and assembled the ones that suited his Enlightenment perspective.
Jesus virgin birth?
Jesus casting out demons?
You get the picture…
Yesterday I posted these Scriptures that demonstrate from Paul and our Lord what our attitude toward lawsuits in the church should be.
“To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!”
(1 Corinthians 6:6–8 ESV)
““You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:38–42 ESV)
This was immediately met with disagreement…these pertain only to that ancient culture and they must be reinterpreted to fit our culture and our far superior political and legal system.
That was pretty much Jeffersons argument too.
The problem is that both verses harken back to the Sermon On the Mount…the most counter cultural manifesto ever written in a sacred text.
It’s radical…and it says that those who follow Jesus will be those who embrace it’s tenets of radical love and self sacrifice.
Let me say that again…radical love and self sacrifice.
That’s what I believe we’re called to a life of… just as Christ loved and died for us.
What troubled me yesterday wasn’t the wrangling over the letter of the law, that’s part of “theologizing”.
What troubled me was the neglect of the spirit of the text.
Be willing to be defrauded.
Turn the other cheek.
Love each other and the church enough settle things righteously.
Jesus modeled these things for us and as a pastor I believe I am called to model them to others…if these are the things that I indeed preach and teach.
Pastors and teachers have the greater responsibility.
I have not done it very well…and in the places where I have done it I am suffering greatly for the effort.
Jesus said that would happen too.
In another place in the book, He said this; “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”(Revelation 2:3–4 ESV)
I believe that he was speaking of the love that church had for each other…a fervent love that proved their love for Him.
It seems to me that we’ve taken our Jeffersonian scissors and systematically snipped out those places where we’re called to love sacrificially…to love the alien among us, the poor, the prisoner,the enemy, the sinner…and each other.
We’ve taken our scissors to the spirit as well as the letter.
We choose instead to protect ourselves, our traditions and our organizations.
I’m as guilty as any.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”(Mark 8:35 ESV)