“God loved the world.
God is in the world-loving business—not the America-blessing business.
You remember the world, don’t you; that massive, spinning sphere of 7.6 billion disparate human beings: brown people, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, Atheists, shithole countries—and lots and lots of non-English speaking, non-Americans?
Check out the Old and New Testaments again.
Read through the Gospels a few times.
Use any translation you’d like:
No America First.
No Making America Great Again (or at all.)
No flags or national anthems to pledge allegiance to.
A few other bits of news from the Scriptures:
Jesus was born in the Middle East.
He didn’t speak English.
He wasn’t white.
He wasn’t Southern Baptist.
He wasn’t a Republican.
Heck, he wasn’t even Christian.”
A change in attitude and behavior is necessary in order for Christianity to maintain a strong and positive influence in the world. Though not in agreement with Bishop Spong who stated that “Christianity must change or die,” I am in harmony with his understanding that literalist Christians may very well literalize themselves into inconsequential roles, or worse, becoming the cause of highly negative consequential events.
A preacher who labors based on an innerant Bible ends up, as Watts wrote, attempting to “tell God what to do and the people how to behave.”
For a long time the second part of that phrase had more impact than the first. However, attempting to tell God what to do because the Bible is inerrant reveals itself more and more as faulty doctrine.
Part of perception is that the interpretation of what we perceive is primarily driven by what we expect to see, i.e. our own internal assumptions. The assumption that the Bible is inerrant then drives the expectations one has as to what God does or will say, what God actually wills, and what God deems as important.
The logic of this is inescapable. If God were to somehow make known a concept not found in the Bible (and I’m not talking about a concept contrary to something in the Bible, but, for example a concept more apropos to 21st century living), how would a culture totally based on an inerrant Bible be ever able to accept it?
“Dogmatic” for me consists of rigidity and inflexibility. I am dogmatic when it comes to my perception of the Bible as something more than a law book limited to its literal statements. I am dogmatic when it comes to viewing the Bible as but one of many powerful means of achieving on-going communion with God.
A church full of Bibles is not a stable full of animals all wearing one harness. It is a place where each person has an individual relationship via his or her personal scripture with the source of the scripture. Otherwise we reduce the Bible to a course in Religion 101, denying ourselves the advanced knowledge to be gained through experientially living religion 201, 301, 401, 100001 and more.
Why would we deliberately remain in shallow water where only splashing is allowed when we can venture into deeper waters, learn to swim and discover the ocean?
What is true is that all religions conflict with each other. In the end, all we have are religions that some claim yes to a thing, and others claim no to a thing and so on and so forth. God cannot be and then not be. He either is or He is not. Therefore by definition, multiple religions mean multiple paths to God.
Literalists are left in an either/or world defined in black and white terms by an inerrant Bible and specific assumptions that cannot be proven. In this circumstance the human mind – where the Holy Spirit is truly sensed and experienced – remains tragically closed.