Tuesday, May 10, 2005

An unpublished letter to the editor

Recently, a gentleman wrote a letter to our local paper and preceded to use scriptural quotes to lambast a person with whom he disagreed. I was appalled (though not surprised) that he claimed the Bible as "absolute","the only source of knowledge" and "unerring" and he then used scripture as the basis for his attack. So I wrote a letter to the editor. I later discovered that it was too long to be published, Here it is:

Dear Editor:

I am responding to Mr. Sowins’s letter to the editor (All we need to know about religion, May 5, 2005) because he does not speak for all Christians and I would like to provide a different perspective.

There are a few underlying assumptions that must be challenged:

First, to say that the bible is the only source of Divine revelation degrades and discounts all other form of divine revelation: from saints, prophets and mystics to the vast Universe itself—with the capacity to reveal the wonder and majesty of the Divine in even the smallest of life systems. Do we really believe that God is not revealed in our time as we discover millions of galaxies, each with millions of stars, and the mystery of the quantum realm? Do we really believe that God is so small that all God’s sacred revelation is contained only in the Bible?

Second, to say that the Bible is the unerring and absolute Word of God ignores biblical scholarship and the scriptures themselves. Biblical scholars acknowledge that the translations are imperfect and sometimes inconsistent and the books to be included and excluded were chosen by men. They acknowledge the bible contains historical and personal bias from time to time. Linguists who have studied the Bible will also tell you that some of the words of Jesus can be attributed to the historical Jesus and others were added later by his followers to attempt to explain what Jesus meant (the explanation after many of the parables for example). This doesn’t make the Bible any less sacred, but it should make us pause before we use individual scriptures as a club of division; Jesus most certainly admonished those who would use the scriptures in this way.

Jesus’ message was one of LOVE, not using scripture to judge or hate. Jesus reserved judgment for those in authority who claimed to speak for God and who caused suffering by insisting that others follow the scriptural law. The law was made for us not we for the law, Jesus said. Hypocrisy seemed to draw Jesus’ greatest rebuke. What would Jesus say today to those who claim to speak for God and then judge and condemn and divide and hate using religion?

To think one knows for certain the will of God is a dangerous path indeed. Great evil has been brought into our world by those claiming Christian values but not living the teachings of Christ:

The [National Government] regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." – Adolf Hitler

We live in a time of growing divisiveness, much of it in the name of religious values of all religions in many countries. Here in the United States, some claiming to hold Christian values continue to divide us, tapping into our darker nature. I urge Christians to reclaim their faith from those who divide and those who stir up hate and fear.

“Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” Mark 5:36
Denise Rushing
Upper Lake

What is Permaculture?


Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is an ecological design framework inspired by living systems. The ethics, root practices and principles in permaculture can be applied to the garden, the farm, and indeed any living system including human structures.