A lot of my colleagues and fellow Bibliobloggers are writing on the temperament of Christian reactions of the death of Osama bin Laden. In particular, it seems the focus is on urging the reading the Matt 5.44, Luke 6.28, or Matt 5.39. These are verses which prescribe tolerance and acceptance. In a way, yes, I certainly agree, but all of this ‘turn the other cheek’ language is seems misplaced when we read Luke 19:27:
“‘But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
And I raise this point merely to support Jim West’s post, which quotes Pro 24:17-18. We can continue to accept that Jesus would want peace, that he would never stand for the death of another individual, that killing is murder, regardless of how you dress it up and therefore Jesus would disapprove. But when we exegete verses, wherein we pick and choose which words of Jesus to follow while ignoring others, like Luke 19:27, we are only supporting a narrowed view of scripture. Which is why we need to remember that, when we attempt to bring verses from the Bible out to support a modern situation by giving them a modern interpretation, we only hurt the value of the text.
Jesus might have been portrayed as someone who encouraged his followers to turn the other cheek, to accept their fate, but he was also portrayed as someone who did not shy away from conflict and, more often than not, sought it out from those he saw as enemies of the kingdom. Remember, he did not come to bring peace (Matt 10.24, cf. Lk 12.51, Rev 6.4).
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
So tolerate, and if you are a Christian, do so with the remembrance that your Christianity is not the same as Luke’s, Matthew’s, or Mark’s, not even John’s. And what you practice today is a product of society. When you use verses of the Bible and exegete them for the purpose of reinventing them for a modern world, you must also be sure to use a disclaimer. Otherwise you risk becoming no different than the fundamentalists who distort the Bible for their own purposes.
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Filed under: Belief | Tagged: Bible, Biblical Literalism, christianity, conspiracy theories, depravity, Dilettante, End of the World, fundamentalism, jesus, Osama, Osama bin Laden, pseudo-scholarship, religion, scripture | 7 Comments »