Today I brought a speaker into the local chamber of commerce to give a presentation that sounded very practical, very applicable, to all of our businesses. She approached us initially, so I did some reference checks to make sure she was legit (a speaker, not a sales-pitch). Everything checked out...
But I vetted poorly. I won't get specific (for fear of a lawsuit or something, I guess) but the entire "workshop" was a sham: a long, hyped-up, thinly-veiled lead up to a final "big sell."
I thought I was more savvy, but we all got conned.
At the end: "If any of this sounds like what you're interested in, I'll be at that table for the next half hour to take your business cards and sign you up for our next class!" Sign you up for the real workshop. To get the real "inside scoop." The real "secret" to success.
Visa, or American Express?
A lot of us overpromise. Most of us underdeliver. I know I do. Sometimes we overpromise God though (or maybe we're actually underpromising, because what we're selling isn't the real deal to begin with). Does God really like being treated as a free-pass? Or a self-justification plan? Or as a Complete Idiots Guide to Life?
We do the same thing with the Bible. We make sleazy pitches about what's inside ("ANSWERS! INSTRUCTIONS!") when the truth is much more complicated. What do I find in Scripture? More questions. They're good questions. But they are questions.
In Chapter 3 of The Fidelity of Betrayal, Peter Rollins writes:
The idea of the "Word of God" becomes pale and anemic when reduced to the idea of a factual description of historical events. The words of the Bible, wonderful as they often are, must not be allowed to stand in for God's majestic Word, as if the words and phrases have been conferred with some sacred status and the phonetic patterns given divine power. Rather, the Word of God can be described as that dark core around which the words of the text find their orbit, the unspeakable Source within the text that cannot be reduced to the words themselves but that breathes life into them.
The claim that the Bible is the Word of God, whether true or not, makes sense only if it refers to the source of the gaps between the words; or more precisely, the source of the irreducible Gap within the words themselves. God's Word is thus testified to indirectly by the parallactical nature of the text itself, being communicated by the rich, weaving web of wounded words to the happening of a divine event. (pgs. 56-57)
Rollins says it far more eloquently than I, but here's the rub I get: the thing isn't the THING itself - the thing is pointing to the THING. And likely: when looking directly at the THING, it's no longer the thing, but again pointing on to something MORE THING. And that in turn points onward. Dancing around Rollins' "dark core."
Don't hand me a Bible and tell me it's God. It's only pointing toward God. A friend of mine from class said, last night, that quoting Scripture in the wrong context or the wrong spirit (with, perhaps, the wrong understanding or the wrong motivations?) renders it untrue. False advertising. Good call, Bo. When someone tells me, "Here is the thing" I'm going to run the other way, clinging tightly to my wallet.