To the editors:
Like most Americans, while growing up I went to church and so I considered myself a Christian, but that was in word only. God, faith, salvation, sin, all that didn't matter to me; Christianity to me was just any old religion, something like a rabbit's foot in a time of trial. However, I had a friend who took his faith seriously, and he would tell me about a Jesus who cared for me, a Jesus who wanted to be known. This Jesus I had to admit was pretty alien to me. And so this friend encouraged me to read the Bible, and see if this Jesus was real and alive and listening. And worth living for. So I read, and strangely the Bible came alive. I opened up before it, and it broke into my sheltered world; it left me convicted, exposed, humbled. But also I began seeing God's greatness, mightiness yet his love as well. And as I heard this Jesus calling me to follow (as he calls each of us), I did as he asked; I began to follow. Christianity, I was beginning to learn, was never a religion, but a relationship with the living Lord and Savior.
Why all this? This all is in response to Harold Henderson's "Reading: Take Back the Bible," his review of John Spong's Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism [April 5]. There was quite a bit that I disagreed with (e.g., some of his arguments were weak and he often interpreted a verse out of context [Has he read the book of Philemon alongside his quoted Colossians 3:22?], and by the way, just who is he talking about when he uses that label, "fundamentalist"? Am I one because I trust that the Bible is God's Word to us?). Yet also I was glad someone was wrestling with the Scriptures. But too often we question the Bible and never let it question us. Too often we berate the Bible because it breaks into our lives and speaks too honestly of our condition. (Uh-oh, that wonderful word, sin!) Too often we snub the Scriptures because we simply don't understand them. The Bible is not cut and dry like a Danielle Steele novel. And yes, often it calls us to be something we aren't: merciful, sacrificing, genuine, perfect. It asks for a change, a response, and not just, "O I believe, I believe!" The Bible needs to be lived out, tried, taken. Only then do those words make any sense.
But first off, it needs to be read. Read Amos and hear how God cries out against the oppressors of this world. Or read Matthew 24 and hear what the Bible says the world is headed for. Or read Isaiah 53 and read just how far the Lord will go to show his love for each of us. Don't always look to us Christians as perfect examples. We aren't. Open up your life before him who is, the one who truly cares for you, Christ Jesus.