Kierkegaard on Christians Ignoring the Bible
I’m currently having my mind blown reading through Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. So many great things throughout this book that really can mess with your comfortable Christianity that refuses to actually do anything. I could very easily go through this book again when I’m done and blog chapter-by-chapter with the challenges he presents. For now, I thought this was a brilliant quote that he provides from Soren Kierkegaard:
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 dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.
I’m a Christian scholar. I spend the bulk of my time thinking about the Bible, studying the Bible, studying systematic theology, etc. And I agree completely with this statement. I see this a lot and I’m stuck in this rut myself. Why do we really care if John wrote the Gospel which bears his name or whether one of his disciples did? Sure, it is an interesting question. But if we’ve already said that it is is authoritative either way, there is something wrong with this attitude of discussing ultimately-meaningless questions instead of actually paying attention to what it is telling us to do. Instead of debating who Luke was and why taking care of the poor was so important to Jesus, why aren’t we following in Jesus’ footsteps and taking care of the poor? We’re so often too busy talking about it to actually do it.