“Born again, again,” by Bob Melone, Chapter 3, part 3 of 3

21 04 2016

When I say that my reading of the Bible has changed over the years, I in no way mean that I read Scripture with any less intensity or integrity! In fact, reading Scripture has never brought me closer to God than it does today! And that is because few things continue to speak truth into the life of the Church and the world like Christianity’s holy writ. In spite of its historical inaccuracies, flawed theological arguments, and blatant racist, sexist, and homophobic passages, the Bible still has much to say to the world today. Like so many pieces of literature, it can be misread and misunderstood so as to justify all kinds of evil and injustice; but at its core it offers the Christian community a beautiful history of how many people of faith have understood God over the past 3000 years. Further, I would contend it even offers many outside of the Christian faith a great deal of wisdom, that when applied to one’s life, can greatly enhance one’s health, relationships, and appreciation of the world in which we live.

The Bible’s call to be good stewards of creation and to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves, has the power to positively inform the trajectory of human growth and development; and Jesus’ call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked has the capacity to transform creation to better reflect the best and brightest side of the human spirit. Scripture’s challenge to love . . . unconditionally; to rejoice . . . in all situations; and to forgive . . . again and again and again, is good council for anyone seeking to live a healthy life; and the command to love our enemies, as well as to speak truth to power, both have the capacity to bring balance to our lives and peace to our world.

But here’s the thing: God didn’t just speak 2000 years ago. God speaks today as well. God didn’t just inspire 2000 years ago. God inspires today! And the practical and theological implications of such beliefs are extremely transformative. The Pentecost event is not a historical event from the first century. It is a story communicating an important reality, that being the unifying presence God and power of God’s people; for the movement of the Holy Spirit is both a historical, AND a contemporary experience, that always has and always will have a profound impact on the Body of Christ.

This means that while we value and treasure the ancient texts of Scripture, for few works have survived the test of time as they have, we also acknowledge and seek new revelations of the holy, remembering that God is still inspiring people to write, preach, produce, and create in a variety of ways that edifie and build up the human family. The words and works of people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Oscar Romero, Mother Theresa, and Maya Angelou are important vessels in which one finds ‘the Word of God’ and we must continually watch for all that God is seeking to do in the world today.

And this work is being carried out through people . . . inspired people! And they are inspired NOT because something or someone spoke into their ears; but because they are so in touch with the beauty that exists in the universe, and with the beauty that can be found in the human heart, that it explodes all over the pages of their lives! Somehow, in ways we will never fully understand, they are able to capture and translate certain aspects of that beauty with paint and brush, note and harmony, pen and word. And the result is a piece of art, music, or poetry that is nothing short of holy – a human product indeed, but profoundly and wholly, sacred! We might even dare to call it God’s living word!

Further, this means that we hold past inspirations, whatever they might be, very gingerly and gently. We can never be rigid in our understanding and interpretation of such holy inspirations, particularly inspired texts. For just as Bible passages were copied and recopied, time and time again, so that they might be passed down from generation to generation and shared with others throughout the ages, the meaning of all inspiration will at times be misunderstood, agenda’s will invariably change, and context will shift and adjust with time. You see, God less about supernaturally preserving stories from yesterday, and more about writing a new reality for tomorrow. God is less interested in protecting fables that have been passed down from our parents, and grandparents; and rather, more interested in growing fresh ways of living to be shared with our children, and our children’s children.

God is speaking all the time, and in all kinds of ways. Holy words come to us through the Bible, as well as through the holy writ of a variety of religious traditions; and divine inspiration did not cease with the writing of Christian Scripture, but continues to be poured out upon humanity. To say God’s Word is living and active, implies and certain degree of movement to it and in it. Statis is not an option; at least not an option for the living. Because – to borrow the language of Spanish philosopher and writer Miguel de Unamuno – God is more interested in being the parent of the future, than the offspring of the past. And the living Word of God is more about shaping a new vision for tomorrow, than recapturing an idolized vision of yesterday.

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