This the introduction to a series of blogs about the making of my new book and the ideas behind why dealing with the topics within is important for our faith.
After publishing this book, Right Texts, Wrong Meanings, I began to travel to speak on this topic. By the way, I am open to invitation to speak on this anywhere and any time. You can access my speaking schedule and my information here. In one particular seminar, I declared that Jesus quite often used the narrative of his society and turned it upside down in a disturbing way in order to make a sharp point. One questioner outright said that Jesus certainly did not do that. I was referring to one parable where Jesus took what was normal and turned it upside down to show how different the kingdom was. I asked further, “Why do you feel that?” The questioner replied, “I just FEEL that Jesus’ presentation is very NORMAL.” Here lies our problem.
IF Jesus was not speaking anything that was challenging to his faith community, why would they crucify him? IF Jesus was the domesticated carpenter of our popular church culture, why would he be worth considering? The fact is, we each create the Bible based on our assumptions, some of which are uninformed and unfound. The fact is, like OUR Jesus, our Bible is also created in our own image.
I suggest that the Bible as a whole disturbs rather than delight. Sure, there are places that can cause you to laugh out loud if you understand Jesus’ culture. Many of Jesus’ parables are outrageously funny. Many of his points however, are greatly disturbing. In reading this book on popular texts, many are greatly disturbed. I’m glad. Many are greatly disturbed because their comfortable little “Christian” world built on wrong assumptions, interpretations and worse yet, applications, have been completely deconstructed. Remember this. Just because a falsehood has been repeated a thousand times, it does not become truth. I dare say that the shock people receive from reading this book and listening to my lectures is an indictment of our church culture and pulpit. Our church culture is meant to create comfort. Many of our pulpits are meant to induce euphoria. Jesus did neither. By lulling the slumbering church using unexamined Christian cliches, many preachers have failed miserably to challenge their church culture the way Jesus challenged the religious leaders of his day. In fact, not many of us are creating enough of a ripple to make us worth crucifying or even persecuting. And when we are making enough waves, we’re usually making the wrong waves. What really is our church life meant to be?
Our lives are meant to meet challenges to our faith, our assumptions and our ethics. Over the years, my faith has evolved, hopefully for the better. I’m greatly delighted that through my education and teaching in various post-grad academic institutions, I have been able to hold firm to what is good and to get rid of the extraneous and erroneous. In the next series of blogs, I will examine the making of each chapter of my book and discuss what false assumptions and interpretations can hinder rather than help the Christian life. Stay tuned.
For ordering your copy of the book, feel free to look here.