There was a time in my life when I put a great amount of faith in the Bible, or at least what I called faith at the time. I spent years looking for God in the pages of a two-thousand-year-old book. My flaw was putting tradition ahead of experience, putting beliefs ahead of faith, dogma ahead of people, fear ahead of life.
As a young Christian, believing all that I was told by those who had given their souls to the Church before me, I understood that, though not pertinent to my salvation, I still had to accept this book called the Holy Bible as the perfect, inspired word of God. Infallible.
There is no verse within its pages that proclaims it to be the only book mandated by God, Himself, to have all authority over every word written or thought thunk. There is a reference in the book of Revelation stating that no other words should be taken or added to that work, but as far as the other sixty-five books that were tacked on before it… nada.
Oh, John said that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and many have considered “the Word” to be the Bible, but the Bible didn’t exist when these words were written. I believe John, as with many of the biblical writers, meant something different – that Word that goes beyond laws and stories created by the Israelites and their offspring.
One of the bases for the idea that the Bible is the inspired word of God is the reasoning that of sixty-six books and however many authors, there are no disagreements. The dogma reads that there is a consistency in the flow of its ideas. Now, I don’t want get into how untrue that statement is beyond the inconsistencies in the Old Testament God of Wrath and the New Testament Prince of Peace; however, using the same argument, I could say that the reading material that has floated my way over the last year has been inspired by God in its consistency. These are not books or authors I sought out, but ones people gave to me, recommended, or let me borrow. Yet, each has challenged the belief system that my life was based upon in a commonly unusual way.
Many Christians, including myself, have used the phrase: “It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship.” (I want to state now and for the record that I never had a bumper sticker that stated “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” I will, however, cop to having one that read “Real Men Love Jesus.”) Anyway, if that be the case, I in no way am trying to deny anyone’s relationship with Him. Therefore, I hope no one takes offense if I point my pen toward the religion that generations of bumbling followers have created.
Any religious person will tell you that with God, all things are possible. But no religious person thinks it possible that they might be wrong about who they think He is. (You want a bumper sticker: “My experience can beat up your dogma.”)
If God is dead, his tomb is sealed in ink, for it is in that blackness that we look for Him. Though Jesus may have been crucified on the cross during a stormy day at Golgotha, the living Christ we seek has been crucified on papyrus every day since. Were the spirit of Christ alive and flowing today – if His meaning had been understood and not twisted into the keyholes of government and pressed into currency, but if compassion had grown with our population instead of judgment growing against it – we would not be in our current state, one hand of humanity nailed to our own cross, the other clutching a hammer.
This is an excerpt of The Rucksack Letters by Steve McAllister. Buy your copy of the eBook on Amazon.com.