To take the Scriptures seriously is not to take them literally. Literalism is invariably the lowest and least level of meaning. Serious reading of Scripture will allow you to find an ever-new spiritual meaning for the liberation of history, the liberation of the soul, and the liberation of God in every generation. Then the text is true on many levels, instead of trying to prove it is true on just the one simple, factual level. Sacred texts always maximize your possibilities for life and love, which is why we call them sacred. I am afraid we have for too long used the Bible merely to prove various church positions, which largely narrows their range and depth. Instead of transforming people, the Biblical texts became utilitarian and handy ammunition.
They say Jesus was a friend of sinners, but he didn’t describe himself that way. His motto wasn’t “eating and drinking with prostitutes and tax collectors.” Those were the labels used by the religious community, by the disapproving onlookers. What’s amazing about Jesus is that when he hung out with sinners, he didn’t act like they were sinners. They were just his friends. People with names. Defined as beloved children of the Creator, not defined by their sins. Icons of God’s image. His brothers and sisters.
It was the Pharisees who looked at them and scrawled “sinner” on their foreheads. It was the accusers who drew circles in the sand with themselves on the inside and “those sinners” on the outside.
– See more at: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/06/20/i-cant-say-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin-anymore/#sthash.mEbCXAtP.dpuf
— Micah J. Murray
I love this quote from Francis Spufford:
The harms that Christianity has done throughout its history are obvious — in some cases they’re now the only thing people can see — and if you try to deny them, or to minimize them, or to make your stand for Christianity’s value on a squeaky-clean artificial version of its record, then you’re engaging in the maintenance of a cozy bubble-world. And Christianity pops bubbles. Its power lies in its realism. It acknowledges suffering, squalor and cruelty, including the suffering and squalor and cruelty caused by us Christians ourselves and our churches; it demands that we give those things their full weight of sorrow and culpability, and only then does it insist that the story isn’t over, that there is more to say. After Good Friday comes Easter Sunday. But you can’t fast forward through the ugliness. Clergy child abuse, zealous violence, homophobia, anti-Semitism: they’re all to be confessed, not excused. Whether people forgive us for them is up to them. We don’t get to demand forgiveness, or to hurry the conversation along to things we’re prouder of.
I definitely have to check out his book, Unapologetic.
That is why he is, above all, the God of those who can hope where there is no hope. The penitent thief who died with Christ was able to see God where the doctors of law had just proved impossible Jesus’s claim to divinity.
–Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island
We agrarians are involved in a hard, long, momentous contest, in which we are so far, and by a considerable margin, the losers. What we have undertaken to defend is the complex accomplishment of knowledge, cultural memory, skill, self-mastery, good sense, and fundamental decency—the high and indispensable art—for which we probably can find no better name than “good farming.” I mean farming as defined by agrarianism as opposed to farming as defined by industrialism: farming as the proper use and care of an immeasurable gift.
–Wendell Berry, “The Agrarian Standard,” Orion Magazine