, Newburyport, MA


August 5, 2013

There is no God!

At the very start of my first Sacred scripture class at seminary, the Jesuit professor stated:

“There is no God!”

A collective gasp from the entire class!

But the scripture scholar instructor persisted:

“There is no God — and Holy Writ proves it. Look it up for yourself in Psalm 14:1.”

An academic panic ensued and pages of Bibles flipped wildly and crisply.

Moments later, a student replied with a tad of a snicker:

“You’re correct, professor! The Bible says, ‘There is no God,’ BUT you’ve got to read the whole thing! ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God!’ You’ve got to read the whole thing!”

My first seminary lesson in Sacred scripture: Reading the whole thing can liberate; taking an excerpt out of context can oppress!

(You’ve got to love those Jesuits!)

Over the past month, a rich dialogue of some 30-plus memos has replied to Ron Johnson’s (July 1) letter, “Darkness is destroying this country,” one of which was my own July 5 response of “God’s light is redeeming this country.”

I love the institutional church when it embraces the moral presumptions of sacred scripture, i.e., all creation is good; all people are equal in God, human life is precious; the unity of the human family; the reality that all humans are imperfect and finite; love and justice are central; avoid idolatry; and, favor the poor (CTS Christian Moral Vision, Brill, 1979).

I worry about the institutional church — whatever the denomination:

When it is more denominations than spiritual

When it is more legalistic than compassionate

When it compiles a list of those going to heaven and those going to hell, with the lister, of course, being on the heaven-bent list

When it focuses more on sin than on grace, more on the Devil (who can and does quote Scripture) than on the Savior, i.e., when it acts and speaks as if sin has the last word

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