In her book, Returning to Eden, Hamilton asks this brilliant question,
“Can you imagine if Christians were required to take an oath to “first, do no harm” with the Bible?”
We’ve used the Bible for lots of things . . . . .
And not all of them have been “good.”
Before becoming doctors, medical students take the Hippocratic Oath in which they pledge, “Do no harm.”
“It’s an act of humility which demands that doctors do not overestimate their ability to heal, or underestimate their capacity to harm. The aim is for doctors to be vigilant about the power that they hold – to strive to remain sober-minded before jumping into action.” (Hamilton, 10).
Few key words there . . .
The next time someone tries to “beat you up” with scripture, stop and ask yourself what perspective are they coming from? Is it someone that in their personal journey humility is perhaps not their greatest attribute?
Are they afraid and acting out of fear? Their understanding of scripture causes them to have a security they would not otherwise have.
Or do they like having power?
There are reasons that people cling to literalness. But truth is, it just doesn’t make sense.
There’s some messed up stuff in what I am merely cutting and pasting from the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) below. And if we followed it literally, well, we’d be in trouble.
Please read these passages, think about them. Don’t just dismiss them.
These are real passages and real reasons why people turn away from faith. Because well-intentioned people, aka – Good Christians – think following scripture has to be literal. But in doing so, why don’t they adhere to these passages?
But these verses do not depict Jesus, much less The Christ. So, they are worth challenging.
If you disagree with me, then I guess you’ve got your stones ready and someone will email me the time of my stoning (see the last example).
As for slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling and with sincere devotion to Christ.
8 I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument, 9 also that the women should dress themselves in moderate clothing with reverence and self-control, not with their hair braided or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. 11 Let a woman[b] learn in silence with full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman[c] to teach or to have authority over a man;[d] she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve, 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
6 “If anyone secretly entices you—even if it is your brother, your father’s son or[a] your mother’s son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend—saying, ‘Let us go serve other gods,’ whom neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 any of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far away from you, from one end of the earth to the other, 8 you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or compassion, and do not shield them. 9 But you shall surely kill them; your own hand shall be first against them to execute them and afterward the hand of all the people. 10 Stone them to death for trying to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
One more thing . . . .
For those coming from Methodist churches that are torn/split, John Wesley, the founding father of “Methodism” (which these churches say they are clinging to so dearly) – his first premise was “do no harm.”
Are literal interpretations doing that?
Grace and Peace,