I may have written an article using this title before, but when you’ve written as many as I have you tend to forget. On the other hand it might be just a sequel.
The Bible is the most quoted and misquoted book in the world. It is mostly used to undergird an already held position or idea. Seldom is it quoted in such a way as to create investigation and dialogue. It is the nail that nails down a point, and therefore the point becomes solid and untouchable, because the Bible says.
This use of scripture has been deeply rooted for years in some methods of preaching. I remember a man telling me a preacher should never say, “I think”, when it came to preaching. He should always say, “The Bible says’ and then read or quote a scripture. All this somehow meant he was preaching the truth.
When I first moved to Roanoke in 1988, I inherited a bulletin mailing list. I just sent out the bulletin using that list. It went to many of the general area Churches of Christ. One article ticked off a local preacher and he challenged me to a debate. He printed the challenge and the article in a little journal he sent out to several states. A preacher in WV wrote a rebuttal to my article in which he stated with great indignation that I had not quoted one scripture to prove my point, therefore, my article had no merit. He was right about the scripture, the merit was a matter of taste. In other words, attach a scripture to it and you can say anything and it is true, at least if you agree with the writer and others like him.
For example, in a letter to the editor a few days ago, a writer said Donald Trump was right to build a wall between the US an Mexico because Nehemiah told the people to build the wall around Jerusalem. I know, I tore at my clothing too as I read that. However, it is one of hundreds of examples where scripture, is attached to a biblical/political position. “You can’t be a Christian and be a Democrat.” “You can’t be a Christian and be a Republican .” Both read the same Bible, both quote it and yet they reach different conclusions. Why? If one is more Christlike than the other, why? What is Christlikeness? The answer will depend on our preconceived, comfortable ideas, usually backed up by scripture.
I also realize that in writing about this, I am putting myself in the position of saying I have the answer. Well, I’m trying.
As I see it, quoting scripture to prove a point, or assuming it will change someone’s mind, is largely a fantasy, unless there is an atmosphere of open dialogue and investigation. When was the last time you read a letter to the editor that said, “Wow! Billy Bob’s quoting of scripture changed my mind and blew me away!”?
What does change a person’s mind? Emotion. All thoughts come from and carry with them emotion. In fact “emotion” comes from the French, “disturb”. That being true, we think and act out of our emotional disturbances. Reason has little to do with emotion. Even if we feel we have made a reasonable choice (and it might be) the source for the choice is emotional. Some feeling inside us makes the decision seem rational. If it is will be determined by the outcome.
When Luther saw the abuses of the Catholic priesthood, it had nothing to do with who knew and could quote the most scripture. It was about an emotional response to what was seen as a violation of human dignity, and in Luther’s case, God. This is true of every reformer, social or religious.
But the question still remains: What can cause our emotions (minds) to change? How is it that someone can be hardened against an idea or concept, and then become completely for it? Not everyone gets blinded on the Damascus road. Is it education? Is it learning about the person or thing which is seen as something to be feared? Yes. By the way, fear is probably the strongest emotion, next to love. Let me insert a scripture here and let it mean whatever you think it means. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (I John 4:18) Without applying the text, is it fair to say in any situation, fear and love are conflicting emotions? It seems they are.
Removing this from a Biblical context, would it still be true? Yes, in any context. Even Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is based on feeling safe and secure, and loved, the opposite of being afraid. So if fear is the emotion which motivates the person, will love change fear to love? That’s the question. When it does it is usually by seeing love in action. Face to face as it were. To that extent, love is a force. It is the force which has changed the world for the better throughout history. It is a mysterious, invisible force or wind/breath that moves humankind forward and deeper and deeper into the power of love. That force, wind, breath, is the word for spirit. There is a spiritual force that breaths into humankind a spirit/power to better the world around it in every field of study. It is the force that moves inside us to demand that we see others as equals. It is the force which disturbs us in areas of inequality, discrimination and hatred. It is the force in every time and place that demands justice and mercy. It is the force that freed the slaves. It is the force that gave women the right to vote, as well as equality in all fields. It is the force that broke down walls of racial and national separation. It is a force that cannot be quoted into someone. It is a force that disturbs or does not disturb, until the person yields or refuses to yield to its force. In poetic terms it is described in Genesis as the creative force (wind/spirit) of God. It is the restless force that has brought about every change which love demands in all of history. It is a never-ceasing wind which blows humanity toward peace and harmony. Just stand on the mountaintop of history and see how many destructive, unjust and hateful things this force has blown away. It is the force of the Spirit of God.
CONCERNS: Teresa Robertson’s aunt, Patricia Hall (lymphodema) and her aunt, Reva Allmond. Judy Hal had a cornea transplant on Wednesday and is doing fine. Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, Melisha Scruggs cousin; Teryn Gaynor’s mother; Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver; Marjorie Wilson (cancer) Melanie Gentry is recovering from a stroke; Joni Beach’s parents, her aunt Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter has been able to get back to work a little . Wayne Phlegar, David Albert, Lena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, deana McRoy, Stephanie
Rigney, Jenni Cullum, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 22-27
Monday: II Thessalonians 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:1-11
Saturday: Isaiah 40:1-11
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUG. 29-SEPT. 3
Monday: Matthew 2:1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 2:13-23
Wednesday: Genesis 31:36-50
Thursday: Acts 9:19b-31
Friday Psalm 122:1-9
Saturday: Psalm 140:1-13
Today is Super Sunday. If you are a visitor it means we will have a fellowship meal in the annex following the service. You are invited to be our guest for that meal.
Even though several of the committee are away, there are still a few items that need to be touched on. Among them are thoughts and ideas on how to use and improve the visual technology we are now using.
The meeting will be in the library following the meal.
Concerning the use of the video screens, last Sunday was our maiden voyage and we can thank Erma Williams for her work on that. We will need to train others to help when she is gone.
THE ANNUAL LABOR DAY WEEKEND BAR B QUE
A sign-up list has been placed on the foyer table for the bar b que. Please let it be known if you plan to attend, and your preference of chicken, pork, or both. As always, the meat will be provided, all the rest is o be brought by those attending. The time for the meal is around 4:00PM. If you can arrive earlier and help set up and pull the pork, please let Keith know.
ROGER FISHER’S PROJECT
If you drive up Carlton and look at the area above the handicapped parking you will see a major improvement in the bushy section on the hill. Roger has been working on this off and on, and it’s time to bring in some help to clear the small trees and undergrowth. As far as the property line is concerned, the neighbor up the hill would like to see it all cleared out as well. Let’s plan a Saturday to finish it.
Susan Jordan and her fellow travelers are back from the Ezell Cline in Guatemala. We look forward to her report. Vivian Dugan will be spending a few weeks with her daughter on the coast.