the fatality of truth…letting go of the wobbly bits

the fatality of truth…letting go of the wobbly bits November 6, 2012

Yesterday I had this thought in my mind tumbling around like laundry stuck in the spin cycle. I just couldn’t seem to open the door and get it out. It was this thought ; the ” fatality ” of truth. It ‘s truth that is in the quality or state of causing death or destruction, or truth that is in the condition of being destined for disaster.

A lot of so called religious truth is like that, truth that has been carved out in stone, that has become indelible that we some how determine is eternal. Or we are inspired by spirituality, or by some infinite consciousness to write what we determine is code for the OS of life. Our religious tribe determines it as the truth for “all” to obey. We use it as a weapon to confront others, and the deepest concern, we use it to construct an illusion of our own little world.

If anything, this kind of truth is lifeless. And this is the truth that Jesus seems to confront so often in the Gospels. So often we see Jesus in a heated conversation with the religious folk of his day saying, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies!”

It is Jesus confronting the ” fatality ” of religious truth.

We keep forgetting above all that Jesus was the profound revelation of God…but he was also the deepest mysterious revelation of what it is to be abundantly human. He took the religious truth in the context of his culture, society and in the corridor of human history challenged it with his “living” truth.

Left to their own devices and passions, religious folk have a hard time seeing beyond their fences into the world. While the issue of slavery and its grotesque inhumanity seem obvious to us now, it was not so obvious to slave owners then who argued—from scripture, no less—that slavery was a part of God’s plan. . Rather than being “fatal ” to religious truth, it seems to me that these changes have argued for a more true following of Jesus’ “living” truth for us than past understandings of the faith have allowed. Faith is a dynamic and ever-changing process, not some fixed body of truth that exists outside our world and our understanding. The “fatality” of religious truth may seem to be fixed and unchanging, but our comprehension of that truth will always be challenged in the midst of an ever changing human landscape. Over time, hopefully, we will continue to wrestle with the “fatality” of religious truth.

We must learn to read between the lines of religious truth, maybe the empty space between lines is pause to reflect to wrestle deeply with its understanding in the midst of our cultural diversity, our pluralistic landscape…and in the footsteps of where we are down the corridor of history.

Probably the most deadly and destructive “fatal” truth of our day continues to be…that Jesus doesn’t accept the LGBT community. The “fatality” or religious truth may seem support that. I would challenge that assumption with the profound redemptive imagination of Jesus’ “living” truth. I think Jesus would challenge any truth that marginalizes, isolates…and destroys the human experience of any life. I imagine Jesus in our midst today, in the midst of our stone throwing, our dehumanizing assault, saying, ” You have heard what the law says, but, this is what I say…”

Jesus has given us the example of what it is to be profoundly human by confronting the “fatality” of religious truth…with “living” truth…life giving truth as he lived.

And Ironically having coffee this evening, I’m reading Acts 15…it’s what I’m sure was a chaotic angry debate in Jerusalem. It was the decision to let the Gentiles ( the people that still had that wobbly bit on their weenies ) become Christians. You talk about the ” fatality ” of religious truth…as long as folks could remember God only accepted people who had been “nipped.” I can only imagine how wild this scene must have been. And then, out of the conversation Peter says something profound, bringing a hush over the crowd…

“And God, who can’t be fooled by any pretense on our part but always knows a person’s thoughts, gave them the Holy Spirit exactly as he gave him to us. He treated the outsiders exactly as he treated us, beginning at the very center of who they were and working from that center outward, cleaning up their lives as they trusted and believed him.”
“So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too?”

Absolutely, stunning redemptive imagination…the “living” truth of Jesus transforming the “fatality” of religious truth.

Who says the LGBT community can’t have the Spirit of God? Who says they can’t live their lives as Jesus did? But, the most important, why are we so intent on trying to “out-god God”?

We can continue to grasp the “fatality” of our religious truths…the weather beaten etched in stone truth, the ” wobbly bits ‘ of truth and continue dehumanize people made in God’s image…and reduce the abundant life of humanity to a mere trickle. Or we can redeem life profoundly with Jesus living truth by say, ” the law, our theology says, our doctrines say…but this is what we say.”

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  • You have certainly identified the problems with absolutizing our own limited understandings, but I don’t see you wrestling with the other reality – if there is no truth for all then there is no truth at all. So, where/who is that place that is grounding of all more limited forms of truth?

    PS – loved your article on the thief who messed things up. Does it speak to this question?

  • ” but I don’t see you wrestling with the other reality – if there is no truth for all then there is no truth at all. So, where/who is that place that is grounding of all more limited forms of truth?”

    Well, I guess that all depends if one sees the Bible as literal truth. Jesus, yes God and we may differ as to how he was God…but also being profoundly human he challenged the truth that was law and in the Torah. Moses challenged God, Paul challenged the religious truth of his day. I think we too are called to wrestle with these stories in the context of where we find ourselves. If not they are rather lifeless. And yes…I do think the theif on the cross does speak to this question.

  • Kevin Fusher

    Hi Ron; From your first post you like many of us are seeing the work of Jesus on the cross as so much bigger than we realised. This wil impact on the church at large regarding LGBT people as well as other people groups who are ‘outside’ of our current terms of reference. The approach I take is: I am flawed, less than perfect. Father has been working with and in me for nearly 40 years grace upon grace. I could be like the servant who, forgiven much strangles the life out (nearly anyway) of a fellow servant for a tiny debt. Or, if instead of a woman the religious draged a man for being in bed with his male partner before Jesus, I when asked ‘let him who has never sinned cast the first stone’ would have dropped mine and walked away. Jesus in the gospels showed grace and love to the people considered to be outside the kingdom. Through His death and resurection those outcasts received His Spirit. As did I and so do ‘out’ LGBT Christians. The truth I hold to is Gods’ transcendant love allows for far more difference than we realise. Now if A.N Other wishes to ‘cast stones at this reply’,I would say if you have never typed ‘nude teen or milf’ into the search box, never had a racist thought. Cast the first stone.

  • Thanks Kevin, you’re right…I don’t think we really grasp how redemptive Jesus imagination was. I don’t consider the self a “christian” although I’m consumed with Jesus, life and teaching to the point I really try to live my life as he did. I don’t go do a church, and I don’t look at Jesus, and the gospels through a prescribed theological lens seeing things that in reality that may not be there. That is likely why may “christians ” call me a heretic or worse. I just try to read through a lens of redemptive imagination…I don’t even say what I write is true…I only ask people to re-imagine.

  • Kevin said: “Probably the most deadly and destructive “fatal” truth of our day continues to be…that Jesus doesn’t accept the LGBT community.”

    You seem to be pretty certain and dogmatic of you being correct and those who oppose your view being wrong. Is your view, “the truth for ‘all’ to obey.” Are you sure your view is a “fixed body of truth”? Don’t you think that your view of truth on this issue “marginalizes, isolates…and destroys the human experience” of those who disagree with you?

    No one is more intolerant than someone claiming to be pluralistic. Truth is, by definition, exclusive. It confronts. Stop pretending it doesn’t.

  • Israel, I have never suggested my view is the ” truth for ‘all’ to obey “…I usually open it up to question, to re-imagine. You, I and everyone are left to wrestle…and you have obviously drawn your line in the sand. We all have to own, and live with what we believe.

  • Kristina D

    Yes! 100% agreed! We should be trying to live in Christ’s image– which means being as accepting as we possibly can. Humility, understanding, and respect. These are all things that should be part of our Christian lives.

    What is Christianity without Christ?

    It reminds me of this video I recently came across– it’s a cute little song about how Jesus and his followers actually Occupy Jerusalem.

    Anyways, here it is:

    Which, it has a point.