MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (AP) — A snake-handling pastor who appeared on the National Geographic television reality show “Snake Salvation” has died after being bitten by a snake during a weekend church service in Kentucky.
While this is maybe of the extreme part of the spectrum it is still a typical example of how we pick and choose what we want to be the image of God. It takes one verse out of the tens of thousands found in the Bible and uses it for the main focus of spirituality. “You shall take up snakes…” is an example of what serious critics of the church use to illustrate the absurdity of believing in God. Regrettably, that is not without some degree of truth.
Yes, this is an extreme example but by no means the only one. There are literally thousands of groups, some small and some very large, who take a minuscule piece of biblical text and explode it into a major belief system. To some degree, even Protestantism is an example of this. Martin Luther, who is generally acknowledged as the pioneer of that version of Christianity spent years searching biblical text for something to ameliorate his enormous feeling of low self-esteem and utter worthlessness. When he discovered that single verse in Ephesians that said that grace is a gift and not from works he had is “aha” moment like so many others before and after him and found his version of Christ. Ironically, most theologians today have come to believe that Ephesians was not actually written by the Apostle Paul, but instead by some anonymous person who wrote it in his name.
These issues are very much a forest/trees situation. If anything, we should be looking at the overall message of the Bible and particularly of the words of Jesus Christ to find our place in life. Instead, we search and search for that one iota that seems to relieve our current guilts or conditions and then practically throw away the rest of the forest to only concentrate on that one tree of knowledge. From that point on our focus on the Bible is to find similar verses to the one we found to back up our new-found system of belief and there have been centuries of that very kind of practice occurring.
Instead of looking for that single tree to latch on to we should all be forest watchers. We will never completely understand the ecosystem of God’s forest but we should at least try to see its overall beauty. During our journey into the forest, we must also understand that others who are also searching might have a different current concept of the forest. That does not make them wrong or us right, it is just different. In fact, not a single one of us will ever really get it “right”. Not one of us…
This post is an edited version of a post from my blog RedLetterLiving.net