Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How Much of the Bible Do You Really Own?

How much of the Bible do you really own? This congressman found out, the hard way...

There is a story I read in book about Pastor Martin Niemoller, one of the pastors of the Confessing Church, a small movement of Protestant pastors who stood opposed to Adolf Hitler before and during World War II, about an old rabbi he met while interred at a concentration camp during the war. To Niemoller's amazement he discovered that the man had memorized the entire Old Testament of the Bible, and worked every day from memory to do a daily recitation of scripture. Niemoller asked the man why he had done this, and in response the old rabbi replied...

"The only Bible that you own is that which is in your heart."

Hey, I'm not opposed to posting the Ten Commandments in public places and Steven Colbert is obviously trying to embarrass this man, which he does, easily....

...by the way, if I was the congressman in this clip, whatever PR person it was who said it was a good idea to appear on the Colbert Report ("It's a young, hip crowd Congressman. Nothing but upside when they see how cool you are. Think of all the undecided voters we'll reach. Besides, its on basic cable... who is going to see it?") is writing "I will not ever put my boss in a situation like this every again or next time I will cut out my own spleen." 5000 times on the blackboard.

But politicizing scripture to give yourself the moral high ground doesn't really do justice to the content of that scripture and the kind of justice it calls to make evident and real for all people in this world. Given that something as basic as people having access to clean drinking water is threatening to de-stabilize the world economically, socially, and politically, surely you could put those Ten Commandments to better use in the realm of policy making.

And how many of us who call ourselves Christians would be as embarrassed if Colbert asked us the same question... or to recite five parables from Jesus' ministry? Or give Paul's definition of what love is as spelled out in I Corinthians 13?

And how have we used scripture, or our lack of knowledge of it, to justify how we live our own lives?

If the only Bible we have is that which is in our heart, how much of it do you really own?

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