I started yoga yesterday. Yeah, I know I don't have a good track record with exercise routines. But it is just about an hour since I did my second session (about 45 minutes) and I can't remember when my body has felt this good before. Now I'm taking it easy, using a yoga for dummies video I found online (plus trying to find poses and neck exercises to help me out). Anyway, it is really good so far. Gentle and I actually feel it - especially in my hamstrings. (I think that's what they are called).
So I'm thinking about yoga and the claims that it detoxifies the body. And I make a connection with how Len's post got my brain spinning. Which really was an extension of a webinar session I attended yesterday afternoon. But my thought is this: the way we read scripture and inoculate us against scripture. Let me unpack that a bit.
I lament the teaching mode of protestant churches. Our liturgy is really centered around a sermon. There have been some great efforts to counter this, personally I think Wimber was on this track. But the problem with the sermon is that it might have had an ideal cultural moment - but this isn't it. People aren't engaged in long narratives. And most sermons cater to this shift - they string together proof texts into a mish-mash of irrelevance and downright heresy. I often cringe in services that I'm subjected to sermons.
Now don't get me wrong. I am a preacher at heart. I love to teach from the pulpit. That is probably the irony of my realization. But I recognize that we need a more wholistic approach to both scripture and to liturgy. I'm going to focus on detoxing from scripture in this post.
The problem I see with scripture is the assumptions we bring to scripture. First we have a false notion that scripture is simple. In my response to Len I say we treat it like a how-to book. If you are looking for simple answers to specific life problems then back away from the bible. Seriously. You can make the bible say just about anything you want. That is a low value of scripture. That toxin kills scripture in your life. Scripture is not a random assortment of promises just for arrogant you (me). It is a drama. It is the ultimate drama. The story of a people wrestling with who they are as the people of God. It is the straining to appreciate what possibilities open up in light of the Christ event. It is a story that lives with us and should grow to be our story. It is patient, wise and available - yes. But its wisdom is never trite, it never panders to our ignorance and it is always more than we give it credit for.
The second false notion is that all scripture has the same weight. This is our erroneous notion of infallibility. We've actually turned scripture into our idol. Scripture is meant to fit in a context. One of the worst innovations applied to scripture has been chapters and verses. Dividing it us has made us lazy and leads to the false assumption that we can lift snippets out and apply them however we like. Look at the great arguments within Christianity - how many of them are over particular readings with the assumption on each side that they are correctly dividing the Word of Truth? It boggles my mind. This toxin leads to what my Baptist friends used to call lucky dipping! Context is not the enemy - wanting a quick fix is.
See the remedy is having a high view of scripture. Not idolizing it, but really embracing it. Bringing your life to it as a whole. Resisting the urge to skip around, but sticking with a book until the story becomes our story. This might mean putting it aside for a bit - seeking God and then starting over. But detoxification is a good process. Toxins destroy life. We do well to get rid of them.