“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The log in my own eye

PRISM ePistle [epistle@esa-online.org] is an emailed newsletter which speaks to social issues of our day, and is related to Evangelicals for Social Responsibility's Prism magazine. The epistle dated Wednesday, April 20, 2005 began with the following "Thought for the day," a quote from Soren Kierkegaard. It caught me off guard with its directness and cut me to the quick.

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."
- Soren Kierkegaard, from "Kill the Commentators" in PROVOCATIONS

Wow. I see that sentiment in myself. The New Testament is scary in the demands it makes on a person. Without the forgiveness of Christ it would indeed be "dreadful to be alone with the New Testament." As a man with a family a job and other responsibilities I have chosen, embraced in life, I wonder if I, myself am who I should be. I could easily spend myself, pour myself out like a drink offering. The opportunities to do good, the venues for service, the people I could touch are weighed over against the decisions I make. I think back on the Tolkien reference I made in the last entry:

"They do not perceive the complexity of any given situation in Time, in which an absolute ideal is enmeshed."

I pray that I see the enmeshed ideals in common human interactions.God forbid that I should pretend to be unable to understand or even ignore what I know that I should do, because I know very well that the minute I allow the realization of understanding, that I will be obliged to act accordingly.

I will continue to exhort the church, but as Bob Bennet says in his song, "may the words of my mouth fall to my heart."


1 comment:

Anne Pessetto said...

I have said similar things in the recent past. If I commit to a religion and/or practices based on the teaching of the Bible, then I couldn't say, "I didn't know better" when I decide to ask for forgiveness.