Monday, February 26, 2007


We Christians (or rather those who call ourselves Christian) are sometimes inconsistent. When we have power we talk of building a Christian realm and out of power we talk of being strangers in the land. But we should constantly be of both mindsets. We are building a Christian realm and a part of the birth pangs of the new creation. We are strangers in this land though we may rest here for a while. We are Christians and are never at home in this world and yet we follow the one who came to save this world.

We are a mass of inconsistency. We live in the both/and rather than the either/or. We are saved and yet in the middle of being transformed. We walk with faith in the midst of our doubts. We say that we believe and can offer no proof. We talk of one who died over 2,000 years ago as living forever. We read scriptures that say God became human to save us. And this is stuff that isn’t rational. It is stuff that just doesn’t fit. And so we Christians are a mass of inconsistency.

We have made attempts to become more consistent. When we formed the Greek part of our scriptures (commonly called the New Testament) we could have taken one gospel. There were arguments for that. We could have combined the gospels into one version. There are extant versions of such attempts. But we left ourselves open to contradiction and chose four gospels out of the gospels used by different congregations and different locales to form the beginning of our testament in Greek.

Still we are a mass of inconsistencies. Our scriptures are in two or three languages – Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Our scriptures have places that contradict each other – a Sermon on the Mount and a Sermon on the Plain that are almost, but not, identical. Our scriptures have holy people arguing with each other – Paul condemning Peter. Certainly if God had wanted consistency the scriptures could have been more clear, but it seems God wants us to use our minds and hearts rather than respond unthinkingly.

In scripture itself we have passages about a lying spirit being put in the mouths of prophets and warnings to test the spirit. God doesn’t want to make things easy for us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol.” And that is in the same vein, though not the same thing, as what I’m discussing. A God that did not leave us to act by faith would be a tyrant.

We are a mass of inconsistencies for God has set us free.

No comments: