Two articles appeared last week on my Google news feed—one right on top of the other. The first explained the fracas surrounding the benediction at Obama's coming re-inauguration. The inaugural committee had invited Louie Giglio to pray at the event. Louie is a mega-church pastor from Atlanta who has become known for his efforts to end human trafficking. However, someone “discovered” that Pastor Giglio had preached a message in the 1990's affirming the classic protestant teaching about homosexuality. Word got out and he was disinvited from the inauguration. Or he withdrew. It's not clear to me who acted first. The blogs are aflame with comments about this situation.
The second article—I kid you not—was about the Bible on which Obama will lay his hand as he renews the oath of office. It was passed down through his family and has some significant sentimental value to the president.
What a strange juxtaposition of print. The Bible affirmed. The Bible denied. Swear by it, but don't tolerate a man who genuinely believes it.
But it makes a point about the condition of our society...or at least that of our leaders and the ruling parties. For them—for many—the Bible is nothing more than a sentimental symbol. It functions well for swearing-in ceremonies. But not as a legitimate authority for life. It's appropriate for a human pledge, but not as a rule or standard by which to live. Its verses are used randomly and out of context to support agendas of all kinds. The actual meaning of the words has been trashed in favor of experience and sentiment, and the ever-popular “what does this mean to you” method of interpretation.
It has become audacious to believe the Bible, and more, audacious to believe what the Bible says about itself to be true, and even more audacious to act upon what the Bible says. More than audacious. Giglio was called an unrepentant bigot in the press, and he was hardly vocal about his views. His detractors had to dig back two decades to find a clear statement to use against him.
I had the privilege last Saturday of speaking for a disability ministry training event. One of my seminars was entitled “Maximizing the Word: How To Create an Environment Where God's Word Speaks to All.” It was a joy to review with the folks in attendance what the Bible says about itself, and answer common questions about the clarity of the Scriptures, and relevance, and power.
I will post some of my notes here over the next few days. It will be good to recall the clear ramifications of the Bible's self-claims. To me, it is not a symbol, but a life-giving tool, a gift from God, error-free and waiting to be grasped and read and welcomed.