We love to convince ourselves that God would never have the audacity to discomfort, or disquiet our selfishness. We breed this here in the states. I've heard all too often (more recently now) how God is just "leading" Christians to do everything that I've never seen Jesus do; from witch hunting within my own fellowship, to others autonomously deciding that "God is leading" them to leave friends and family when closer examination is warranted.
This past 3 weeks have been nauseating as I encounter our smiley, well dressed, "you-can-have-whatever-you-want-at-no-cost" Christianity, putting on a professional hypocritical facade of personal rightness, and the exercise of solo Christianity where no one has the right to challenge or "I'll take my toys and go home."
Then I read this...
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament. *
Many have, of course, read these words, and many more will read them - even agree with them. But the modern, western, Christian cultural, rational mind will coddle itself into a numb, selfish, convenient, forgetfulness that will later insulate itself with the low road of "well I'm only human-nobody is perfect-everyone has issues" excuse. "After all I believe that God would never want me to feel uncomfortable."
Kierkegaard's quote helps my understanding of how we got here. It frustrates me because, knowing this, will not change a thing.
* Moore, Charles, ed. Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard. Plough: Farmington 2002.