Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why do we spend so much time on wild goose chases?

We have heard it all before.  Jesus had a lover.  Jesus had a wife.  Jesus did not die.  Jesus was gay.  Jesus was not who the New Testament says He was.  Don't forget the Gospel of Judas the hero, the lost books of the Bible, the secret Gospel of Mark, etc...  We spend so darn much time and energy in the pursuit of what turns out to be fakery, deception, lies, and falsehoods.  Would that we spent as much time and energy simply reading and believing the Word of Scripture!

Yet the work of apologetics must go on.  People have itching ears (to use Scripture's metaphor) and we actually want to believe the strange and inane.  Unless we challenge the lies with the Truth, the lie gains credibility with those who want to believe but who are inclined to also believe every lie, falsehood, and deception.  Yet this is not the work of the Kingdom -- defending Scripture from its mockers and challenging the faux gospels that purport to be the real Gospel.  It must be done, to be sure, but the work of the Kingdom is speaking the Gospel not engaging in a war of words with its naysayers.  We certainly cannot prove the Gospel beyond any need for the risk of believing, what Kierkegaard (later Tillich) deemed the grand "leap of faith."  I am no follower of either and yet I understand their point.  Faith is not proven by principle or arrived at by simple deduction.  It relies upon the Holy Spirit to build up the evident facts of the faith to grasp them, trust them, and believe that these objective facts were "for me." 

Doubt is our natural condition since the fall.  More than this, our skepticism for the truth of God is accompanied by our desire for the strange, curious, and even borderline crazy.  So every time a newspaper presumes to have found the proof that the Jesus of history was never the Jesus of Scripture, we must stand ready to dispute its lies.  All the while we argue, the work of the Kingdom goes on -- speaking the Word of the Lord without fear or embarrassment and faithfully.  Where the Word is spoken, God is at work -- whether His works are seen to us or remain hidden from out eyes to await another time or another set of eyes to behold.  I understand this.  I also understand the need to challenge the next scrap of papyrus that claims some outlandish and boorish falsehood.  It is just that I also know how jaded people become to the competing claims and to the tempting lie that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

We listened to one presidential debate and there were heard competing claims, disputed facts, and characterizations as much fancy and reality.  Even the truth has trouble changing people's minds.  We have grown so accustomed to the shouting of the warriors in battle that we believe neither side and presume the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  The same is true of religious battles of words.  The end result is hardly ever that the Truth wins but that the idea of unassailable and consistent and eternal truth grows ever weaker.  I will never forget the fellow who read Scripture with me in a Bible study as we challenged some of the then lies of the DaVinci Code era.  "Well, the truth is out there somewhere but we'll probably never know it..."

Even when we win and the lie is exposed, skepticism has won.  By now most are pretty sure that little bitty papyrus with the four words claiming Jesus had a wife is a forgery and a fake.  But that never hits the front pages like the lunatic claims of its finding did.  In the end, we won the battle while the tide of the war keeps moving toward the position that no truth can ever really be known if it exists at all.  Maybe we should have let stand the idiocy of a piece of paper with claims that fly against unbroken Christian tradition and Scriptural truth.  While we were battling this out in the media, some of our own people and those not yet of the Kingdom wondered if we ever will or can know the truth... that perhaps all we have is what we want or choose to believe.

Pardon me if there is no real conclusion to post... just the mere frustration that defending the Bible against its critics is a never ending work that can sometimes, perhaps often, get in the way of the real work of the Kingdom in speaking the Biblical Word to the world.  Just a few odd thoughts after a debate....

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