Okay, did you hear that? That was me fulfilling a vow that I never quite got around to making. I thought about making the vow, but I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat, and I was afraid that if I made the vow, I’d be too much of a coward to actually fulfill it. So I never made it. After all, you’re supposed to keep your vows. But maybe a scream in print, which is what I just did, is kind of like fulfilling a vow you intended to make but never did. Perhaps.
So, here’s the story. Several years ago, I heard someone say in a public lecture that they believed the gospel that Jesus preached, but not the gospel that Paul preached. This was the umpteenth time I had heard something like that, this attempt to drive a wedge between Jesus and Paul. So I almost made a vow, right then and there, that the next time I heard somebody say something like that in a public setting, I would immediately stand up, and let out a loud groan, or a scream like a banshee or an angry chicken, and then sit right back down again, calmly, as if nothing had ever happened. Like I said, I didn’t made the vow, because I knew I wouldn’t follow through on it, because, I’m like, you know, a coward.
However, over the past few years, I added another almost-vow to my list of almost-vows. And it was along the same lines. This time the almost-vow had to do with driving a wedge between Jesus and the Bible. You’ve heard people say things like this, right? “I worship Jesus, not the Bible.” Or, “I don’t follow the Bible, I follow Jesus.” Or, incredibly, “Jesus is the word of God, not the Bible.” So I made an almost-vow for this one as well, identical to the one I almost made for the Jesus/Paul wedge. The next time I heard someone say something like this in a public setting, I would stand up, let out a load groan, or a scream like a banshee or an angry chicken, and then sit right back down again, calmly as if nothing had ever happened. But I never actually made the vow.
Well, I heard it again this morning. I didn’t actually hear it; it was on a blog. It went like this:
I came to the realization that Jesus, not the Bible, is the foundation and center and standard and goal of genuine Christian faith and life.
What an incredibly naïve and uninformed thing to say (I actually have some other choice adjectives, but I’m too timid to use them).
Consider the following:
Sweetheart, I love you an awful lot. But I really don’t care all that much about the things you say, or all those love letters you wrote me.
Boss, I’ve got total respect for you. But I really don’t need all your memos and directives about how I’m supposed to do my job.
Hey, Prof, I think you’re an absolutely awesome teacher, but I could really do without your lectures and assignments.
I have great appreciation for you, officer, but I really don’t need all these laws you keep talking about. By the way, is this ticket you gave me anything I need to pay attention to?
Hey, Jesus, I love you, and worship you, and adore you. You’re the foundation of my genuine Christian life. But the things you said through your prophets and apostles; well, they just aren’t that big a deal for me. I like you a lot, I’m just not that crazy about all the things you said through your prophets and apostles by your Holy Spirit.
I have already written in other blog posts about how the word of God (Scripture) and the Word of God (Jesus) cannot be dichotomized, and I won’t repeat that in this blog post. See here and here, and here. But, I’ll just reiterate in this post that the attempted dichotomy is one that Jesus did not authorize and would not recognize—this Jesus who built his church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20; the prophets here are probably New Testament prophets; but I think the point still holds).
So, I’ve decided to let out a silent scream in this blog post. You see, I’m courageous in print, but less so in an actual public setting. In fact, as I write this, I realize now that I have a bit of affinity with the Apostle Paul, whom the Corinthians called “timid” in person, but “bold” in his letters (2 Corinthians 10:1). Oh well, maybe I’ll eventually muster up the courage to make the vow and carry it out. But until then, a silent scream will have to do.
July 2, 2014