Aside from that . . .
“John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.” – John 3:22-36
The Bible is chock full of asides, little comments intended to clear up confusion, or clue the reader into some important info we might otherwise be overlooking. From the ever-present “selah” of the Psalms to the deeply weird “let the reader understand . . . ” of Mark 13, the Bible assumes that we might well be missing the point.
“Wait, wasn’t John arrested by Herod? Wait, the Temple has already been destroyed, so why hasn’t Jesus returned? Wait, wasn’t I supposed to selah back there?”
To its earliest readers, the Bible was not a divinely inspired, inerrant document. All we need to do is read the Bible to know that. The way the Bible is written, it assumes that people are going to have some questions. It assumes people will be “thinking along,” pondering the meaning of the Bible’s words and—indeed—questioning whether they are true.
That’s why I believe Bible study is the best medicine for fundamentalism.
During Lent, Christians study the Bible deeply in order to gain a deeper relationship with the Word of God. The Word of God, of course, meaning Jesus.
If the Bible becomes an object of worship, then we replace the living Christ with dead letters. And without the living Christ, it is possible to wind up with a faith that denigrates the poor, the unorthodox, the outsider, women, sexual minorities, and hungry children. You know, all the people Jesus loved to be around.
Living God, may I be filled with so much love for scripture that I always ask hard questions, and may I be filled with so much love for Christ that I never accept any substitute for the Word of God.
John Edgerton is Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.