As Executive Director of the historic Massachusetts Bible Society, I can say that this mirrors my own journey in many ways and has fueled my passion to focus our organization on biblical literacy, understanding, and dialogue. It was reading the Bible literally as a young Baptist that led me to realize that the end-point of that trajectory left me in a place that neither my brain nor my heart could follow.
And that was before I went to seminary — just following my passion for the Bible into deeper and deeper study. Seminary just allowed me to find ways to articulate it and helped me find more dark corners of undigested dogma that could not actually pass the scrutiny of the full Word of God.
Jesus fought literal interpretations of his words at every turn. No, Nicodemus, I didn’t mean you actually crawl back into your mother’s womb to be “born again.” No, my dear Disciples, I am not talking about literal bread. No, woman at the well, I am not talking about water you actually drink.
And then there was Acts 15 and the Council of Jerusalem — a bunch of Jews sitting in a room and deciding that the huge chunks of Scripture that mandated circumcision as the necessary mark of the people of God could be labeled as optional. Why? Because God was clearly blessing and sanctifying the uncircumcised, and if God didn’t really care anymore, who were they to stand in God’s way.
Christian faith is about a Who, not a What. It is about relationship, not doctrine or dogma. And when the Word made words gets confusing, we look to the Word made flesh to sort out what it really means. And of course there we find the heart of Love, beating out the message that ultimately our lives are judged by the extent of our care for the human family and not on whether we can pass a doctrinal litmus test.
Anyway, thank you for this. “God is love” is actually a Bible verse.