On my trip from Ohio to California, I’ll have to admit that I did a rather bad thing. Perhaps it wasn’t the brightest thing in the world, but it seemed like a terrific idea at the time. While driving on the highway, I noticed a billboard that stated “When you die, you’re going to meet God. Call ###-###-####”. Curious to see what waited for me on the other end of the phone line, I dialed the numbers. For the record, this can be a very expensive habit when the area code starts with a nine double-O. Moving on.
The phone rang a few times, and then an old man answered the phone. Stating he was from a church in the midwest, I told him that I had called because of the billboard. At this point, he responded that the wages of sin is death, and that I needed to be saved in order to find salvation.
The next twenty minutes of conversation were something that absolutely shocked the heaven out of me. I say this because I presented intelligent (and very basic) arguments against his words that I’ve heard very commonly from those who I have encountered as I’ve dug into spiritual conversations about G-d, salvation, and the broad topic of religion. It was truly embarrassing to have a conversation with this guy who had no idea what he was talking about, and couldn’t separate himself from the bible that he based his entire eternal salvation off of.
I’d like to explain that I did not engage in this conversation to upset somebody, nor to prove myself right on any point, but to see what types of people are on the proverbial front lines of our spiritual engagement.
In the scriptures, we are told “Study to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” And I have to question whether or not the author knew how this text would be taken some thousand or so years after it being written. In Christian culture, this text is commonly used to tell others to simply dig into the bible for all points of reference. And I cannot quite agree with this practice for two reasons.
1.) When the author wrote the passage, I have a very difficult time he was under the impression that he was referring to the Genesis-Revelation books that we refer to as the Bible.
Rather, it would make sense that a broad form of study is going to be required for spiritual revelation. Rather than simply immersing oneself in the Bible, I believe there is great benefit to be found from finding revelation in other documents, books, and articles that are not found between the leather cover of the Bible.
This being said, I would like to apply the above statement to every single reference in the bible that speaks of the “Word” of G-d. “For the word of G-d is quick and powerful..sharper than a two-edged sword” I don’t believe the author was referencing the books we hold within the bible, but the actual, literal word of G-d.
That’s a blog for another time…
2.) When one, such as the individual on the other end of the phone, does nothing but read the bible for their point of reference, they become a victim of circular reasoning:
“My faith is true because the bible says it. The bible is true because god (caps intentional) said it.”
This creates a very weak argument that poorly represents christianity, which proclaims itself to be the key to eternal salvation for the world.
Now, before you go to assume that I’m an atheist bastard who hates G-d, Christianity, and the Bible, I’d like to ease your mind (and fear of my eternal salvation) by telling you that I am indeed a follower of Christ and the principles He taught. In addition, I have the utmost respect, reverence, and healthy fear of the Creator. Finally, I believe the Bible to be one of the most remarkable books ever written, though I do not believe it to be without flaw or the direct 100% word from G-d’s mouth.
In this life, we are given the opportunity to experience many things. As Americans, we have the great opportunity to consider ourselves among the few privileged individuals that are able to do what we want, when we want, with who we want, how we want to do it. It’s a very liberal culture that I fear we’ve become all too comfortable in.
If this question of eternal salvation and spiritual security is real and valid, which I believe it to be, then it would make sense for us to separate ourselves from that which is comfortable and find ourselves in the place where we can actually pursue truth, without the restrictions imposed by others, our religious practices, or even our own minds. Truth is out there, friend.