Gospels + Acts

I’m all the way through Romans, and have yest to reflect on the reading of the Gospels. Allow me to remedy this. When I finished the Books of Moses, I was frankly a little down on my adventure. So much of it dealt with material that I not only disagreed with, but which was dangerous. Girls are sold into slavery, even today. Women are killed for sleeping with someone their community does not approve of. And the idea of slaughtering everyone who fails to share your faith is not exactly a non-problem these days. So, while nothing defeated my notion that the Bible is a story of God’s presence in our culture, and that God was working through God’s people even in an unjust society–I had to admit that if a person were raised on the Books of Moses as his sole moral code, that person would be, well, evil. Sorry.

I could not feel more differently about the Gospels. They confirm that mine is a Gospel faith. The Gospels not only contain many precious and joyful scriptures, the arguments presented in them are the arguments I care about. What is the nature of Jesus? How does the law apply to God’s people? What is most important? The Gospels give different answers to these questions, but these are the questions I like pursuing. Jesus demanded a radical personal transformation. And how do you know you’ve got it? Well, as Janice Joplin says, “if it makes you feel good.” Fight for justice, have faith, be in the world but not of it. And love everybody, all the time.

This is, of course, not a surprise that a modern Protestant would be more uplifted by the Gospels than the Torah. But I felt it was worthwhile to take some space to affirm it.

2 replies on “Gospels + Acts”

So what value do you think it affords you to have the Old Testament as a basic part of your scripture?

It's good historically, to see on an intellectual level how the links can be drawn from some legends to others and some figures to others. But what does it mean to your faith that these uncomfortable–"evil" in your words–foundations are there?


I'm conflicted. One reason I'm conflicted is that I think there is that there are parts of the Old Testament about which I am not conflicted at all. The ancient stories about values are very important in what that teach and what they reveal about God working in the ancient culture. The writings, Pslams, Proverbs, Ecclesiates, and Song of Solomon, are beautiful and important.

The stories of the kings of Judah and Israel are also more important than just for their historic value. They offer oppotunity to discuss how God relates to a nation. And, although I haven't read the prophets in this setting, I know that they also contain valuable lessons of social justice that is the cornerstone of Jesus' faith.

It is, thus, the law that causes me to be conflicted. As you note, we could have an book that was not sacred titled Israelite Legal Code. We could refer to that when we wanted to read what Jesus was talking about when he said, "You have heard . . ." or when there is a Gospel reference to Mary & Joseph offering a sacrifice of pigeons instead of goats for Jesus.

It doesn't "feel" right to me to do such a thing, but I can't put my finger on why I think that way.

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