I got a home visit yesterday, my front door standing open as it always does in fine weather. At first, calling from my gate which was standing open as it always does, they seemed like they were trying to sell me something, but I was making no sense. Those people always barge right up to the door, and the last one of those would not shut up or go away until I asked him if I needed to call a cop to get him out of there. The salesmen don't bother me unless they tell me they're not trying to sell me anything. If they frankly say they're selling something and what it is, their chances aren't good, but if it makes sense and they're straight up, it's not hopeless. One of those came on a fiercely hot day last summer and failed to sell me any magazines, but he did get a big glass of water and a bit of salt to guard him against hyponatremia.
If they tell me they're just doing a survey, or trying to do me a favor - but certainly not trying to sell me anything - then the moment what they're trying to sell comes up, I'm apt to ask them, since they ARE trying to sell me something and they're already lying to me, why should I believe anything else they're going to tell me?
Then I figured they were Jehovah's Witnesses. I like talking to Jehovah's Witnesses, although mostly they just shove some paper at me and run off. When we do converse, we can usually get away from the discussions of the Trinity that they present as being vital. I don't have a problem with Trinitarian doctrine, except that it clearly isn't as tidy in the Bible as anybody tries to say it is, and it certainly holds far less interest to any Bible writer than it has for theological debaters of the past 1700 years. In the Bible you see a whole lot more interest in justice, mercy, and walking humbly with our God - which among other things entails some prudence about our own understandings, our place in God's purposes, and his nature - than you do about these supposedly fundamental doctrines which we can hold to, however firmly, with no practical effect on how we live. The Pharisees were great at such theological niceties, to the point that they became theological idiots as Jesus explained in Matthew 23. But justice, mercy, and walking humbly with our God is the trinity through which we have to pass to reach understanding of everything else. If we actually live that trinity, we'll learn something about any other trinity we need to understand.
But they weren't Jehovah's Witnesses. They were inviting people in the neighborhood to a Bible study at their evangelical Christian church, in which I was assured they would be going through the Bible line by line and teaching just what it says.
This is exactly the same confidence I've seen in Jehovah's Witnesses and all the rest that come to my door. They all agree in presupposing that the speaker is - unlike all the others - reading what's there instead of reading into it what's already in his own heart, as they all see is happening with those who disagree with them. It takes a lot of conceit to be saying in your heart that way, "I thank you, God, that I'm not like all those other people that are reading their own notions into what they're reading" (Luke 18:9-14).
I volunteered that the problem I have with American Christianity is that for the past 400 years, American Christians have always found a way to shill for the strong and to justify ripping off the poor and the weak. and I don't see how anybody that actually reads the Bible can do that.
I pointed out that today people shill for the apartheid state of Israel just as their fathers did for those that robbed and dispossessed the Indians and used the Bible to justify enslaving black people. Nothing learned in the past 100 years.
So pretty quick the loving Christian veneer peeled off the guy leading the group. Unprepared to engage my arguments, he discerned the "hatred in my heart" against the Jewish people, because I don't think that robbery and pogroms by the settlers against villagers minding their own business are any more OK for Jews to do than anybody else. And I had "hatred in my heart" against Zionists because I pointed out that Psalm 90 says that God is the dwelling place of God's people in every generation, not the land of Israel or any other piece of real estate. Israel, in replacing God as the dwelling place of Jewish people, is an idol, like anything else that takes God's proper place, but holding to this obvious Bible teaching means I have "hatred in my heart" for Jewish people. Theologically, of course, Jewish is what I am, and Jeremiah and all the prophets were not Jew-haters for telling such similar truths about their fellow Jews in their own day. But they were sure accused of it by the same kind of people as came to my door yesterday.
Speaking of hatred, why are they so enamored of a brazen liar like Brigitte Gabriel, a vicious bigot with a story of her supposed experiences of the Lebanese civil war that is an obvious lie to anyone who knows anything at all about what happened in South Lebanon in those days, who takes the position that Arabs "have no soul!"
It seems to me that people who read the Bible "line by line," and "teach whatever it says," ought to notice how abhorrent her position is to biblical theology, instead of inviting such people to speak at their churches, lapping up their defamatory talk like a dog lapping up its own vomit. But didn't their fathers hate and despise the Indians and black people that they were ripping off, justifying their own evil deeds by perverting the Bible so as to slander those whom they were pleased to oppress?
Going door to door, they work hard to make one proselyte, just as the Pharisees used to do (Matthew 23:15). The guy, proud of his hard work, began insulting me by questioning me about what I was doing for the kingdom of God. Since I just spent a lot of hours in a resolution session the day before hammering out a settlement agreement with the district's very sleazy attorney, so that the kid wouldn't get ripped off as the district designed, I wasn't much in the mood for that snootful.
But in a way he's right. Maybe it's just because I'm old, and tired, and lazy, but I can't abide his kind of hard religious work. And fortunately, the Bible indulges my laziness. It's not hard work that pleases God, but God's work and not ours in our lives. The religious people carry their heavy works around and are consoled by their own zeal and effort, evidence that they really love God. They're spiritual pride addicts, and like any other addict they'll pay big for their drug of choice. But Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden light (Matthew 11:28-30). I'm glad his gospel is good news for the tired and the lazy. All right, Jeremiah, drive up (Jeremiah 4:1-2):If you will return, O Israel, declares the Lord, then you should return to me. And if you put away your detested things from my presence,And will not waver,And you will swear, "As the Lord lives,"In truth, in justice, and in righteousness;Then the nations will bless themselves in Him,And in Him they will glory.
The obvious here is that you don't have to knock on doors, acting just like all the other salesmen, in the hope of getting one proselyte to your Bible study so that you might rake him into your bag. What about if you actually believe this stuff enough that you actually live by the life of God by which you swear? Here we have the promise that we believe the gospel enough to live in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, the nations will bless themselves in God and glory in Him.
It's simple logic. If that's not happening, then we are not swearing by the Lord in truth, in justice, and in righteousness. And that should be obvious. That this self-proclaimed "loving Christian" should immediately fall to personal attacks as soon as he can't respond to my argument, what the world calls ad hominem attack, is so contemptible that even the godless world despises such dishonesty - and a representative of God should behave in a way that even the world despises? You do that and expect anyone with any sort of integrity to think you have any acquaintance with the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth?
And the way they hate Muslims and Arabs and want to justify any sort of cruelty and injustice against them, like their white supremacist and genocidal Christoid fathers, did they learn Jesus Christ in that way? And where in their Bibles which they read line by line do they learn that if someone is called a Jew - no matter how odious to real Judaism their ways are, as they imitate the Nazis and even use the same language - then whatever they do deserves ourt support? Which of the biblical prophets taught that the wicked get a pass like that just because they are Jews? Isaiah? Jeremiah? Ezekiel? Amos?
I can actually answer that. The false prophets taught that trash (Jeremiah 7:1-7), just as their Christoid descendants are doing today, to their own ruin.
The good news is that this flagrant injustice has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus. You people out there that can't stand the Bible on account of their falsehood - it's not the Bible that they're teaching you.
You're right in not being able to stand their falsehood. The Bible actually is concerned with justice, mercy, and walking humbly with your God (Micah 6:6-8, Isaiah 1:16-18). It does teach from Moses up that there is one law for each person (Exodus 12:49; Numbers 15:16, 29) - not a rule saying that black slaves and white masters get different rules, that the Aryan master race and the Jews in Germany and Poland get different rules, that white Americans and the Indians robbed and slaughtered by them get different rules, that American lives and the lives of everyone else have different values, that Zionist settler pogroms against Palestinian villagers are more acceptable than the Nazi pogrom against Jews in Kristallnacht in 1938, or that when the settlers write on the walls "ARABS TO THE GAS CHAMBERS" they are any different from the Nazis they consciously imitate, or that the apartheid state that supports them deserves any more support from a God-fearing person than anyone else who acts that way.
The wife yesterday said she was going to research Brigitte Gabriel. If she does, and digs deep, she will find out the vile nature of the doctrine she is caught up in, and what it is to be persecuted by her crowd for the sake of righteousness. She'll get to explore with Jesus how much or how little she agrees with him that such persecution is a blessing. If she learns and tells the truth, all her loving friends will turn on her, subtly no doubt, but they will make it clear. Her husband can be counted on to pressure her and make her avert her eyes from the truth. She will have to find out that her crowd which holds to these lies is just as opposed to the truth and as quick to punish her for following it (or shall I say Him), as their zealous religious fathers who crucified Jesus in the first place.
That way is tight and narrow as Jesus said, and few there are that find it (Matthew 7:7-14). If you've ever wondered just what makes it tight and narrow, read carefully in Matthew 5:3-12 just how Jesus describes it. You'll see why there's never a traffic jam on that narrow road, especially in churches!