KDs are designed/developed/inspired/mused/auto-suggested/indigested to make folks think; an especially uncommon experience among Democrats, Republicans, and jingoistic mainline denominationalists who continue to discourage dissent with their ever-threatening thought police.
I've often been
struck by how clergy, more sophisticated theologians, and institutionally loyal
ecclesiastical bureaucrats make Christianity sooooooo complex/confusing.
You know their
line when talking about issues of faith and morality: "It's more
complicated than that."
They say that
after some, uh, simpleton says something like this: "I believe our world
and nation and denomination and all of the rest would be much better off if
people just, you know, literally obeyed things like the Ten Commandments,
Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 25, and..."
preen while sporting those stripes of credibility sown onto their
Genevans, "it's more complicated than
But since I've
been born anothen, uh,
I've kinda been struggling with that mindset as much as conventional grammar.
thinking there must be a really, really, really new translation of the
Bible that they're reading: "So man created God in his own image. In
the image of man, man created God."
Sorry about the
gender stuff in the previous sentence; besides, most of my favorite feminists
don't mind masculine imagery when it makes men look like...
Anyway, I've been
thinking there must be a really, really, really new translation of the Bible
that they're reading: "When Jesus finished His teaching, the crowds were
totally confused by all He had said. The clergy, theologians, and other
ecclesiastical bureaucrats reassured them, 'Ah, don't worry about what Jesus
said. It's more complicated than
that. We'll show you how to...'"
thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I watch Obama and Romney
lie about each other.
thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I wonder why people
can't/won't address the simple choice of this coming November: free enterprise
thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I'm part of a
mainline denomination mirroring all of the others as well as the sideliners despite their self-righteous
protests to the contrary that splits votes right down the middle or
somewhere thereabouts when balloting on issues of faith and morality as if God
is as double-minded as they/we are about issues of faith and morality.
thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I wonder why those
"religious" denominationalists whose connection to Jesus and Holy
Scripture is more and more and more coincidental can't/won't address the
simple choice whenever balloting on issues of faith and morality: you/we is or you/we ain't gonna abide by Holy
Scripture as the absolutely authoritative revelation of God's will on issues of
faith and morality.
thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I think about
clergy like me who are reading Matthew 23 and wondering what the anything but
heaven we've been doing for...
I may be
I've been thinking people like me like to make simple Christianity as
personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture sooooooo complex and
confusing because we either don't believe it/Him for ourselves, never
truly understood Christianity as being about Jesus as attested in
Holy Scripture, or just changed our minds since getting into the gig and
lack the integrity to admit it and go sell insurance, work at Starbucks, or
Or maybe it's
just that new translation of the Bible that's really, really, really catching
on with clergy, theologians, and ecclesiastical bureaucrats like me.
Or maybe it's
just because being simply Christian is too much to ask for those who've, uh,
abandoned it for something/someone else even while continuing to
pick up a paycheck from...
I've decided to
get rid of as many of the religious trappings about Jesus as I can in
favor of a relationship with Jesus enabled by paying closer attention to
Him as revealed in Holy Scripture and enlightened in prayer by the Holy Spirit
Who never contradicts what He's revealed in Jesus as attested in Holy
Or something like
I feel like I'm
just scratching the surface; but I'm scratchin' and sniffin' and searchin' through Holy
Scripture for something a lot more than the two feet planted firmly in the air
deliberations of my government, denomination, and...
I may be wrong;
but I gotta tell ya that I'm feelin' a lot better doing that than paying attention
to those clergy, theologians, and ecclesiastical bureaucrats like me who have
an increasing penchant for paralleling what they/we think to what He's revealed
in Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture.
It just occurred
to me that's why He came up with the first few of the big ten.
Of course, I
don't expect people like me who sometimes act like they know more than Him
Jacob often warned, "Don't miss the forest for the trees!"
That was his way
of saying it's easy to miss the big picture if you're caught up in the details;
or as one of the few seminary Bible professors who made any simple sense said
to me, "You can't build faith on broken pickle jars!"
looking at the start of everything, does it really matter what happened on
which day of creation? Does it really matter if God used evolution to
move us from slimy tadpoles to Calvin, uh, Kleins or just winked us into
being? Does it really alter the course of anyone's destiny not to mention
just keep keepin' on if
we've memorized who begat whom? What difference does it make to know if
the chicken or egg came first?
While Genesis is
about firsts for everyone and everything - universe, world, nations, time, gender,
family, sin, suffering, and all of the below by way of all of the above - the
most important first is God.
was/is/remains first. No one nor no thing was ever before God. He
was before everyone and everything.
Simply, God is
Source, Starter, and Sovereign.
Now go back to
the first paragraph before reaching for some Advil.
too hard about how or why or whatever is a rabbit trail with no end.
God is Source, Starter, and Sovereign.
So the first big
message of Genesis is God.
Don't even try to
wrap your head around it/Him.
for the made to
understand the Maker.
between Source (God) and product (us) is so far beyond our calculations that
it's silly to even try.
That's why Luther
often said, "Let God be
Stop trying to
figure out what's/Who's beyond us in every emotional, intellectual, spiritual,
and physical way; unless, as Dr. Metzger often warned the academically
constipated, you're into useless discussion.
The message of
Genesis isn't how or
why or whatever.
The message is
God as Source,
Starter, and Sovereign - for reasons that we'll never understand no matter how
hard we try - turned nothing into everything and everyone.
really, really, really good news about it/Him.
He put us on the
top of the charts; saying to Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - which we
don't really get either apart from some hints by reading the rest of the book -
"Let us make people in our image and let them rule over everything
Simply, God made
us for Himself.
So the big
message of the big message in Genesis is God with an affection for us that is
more acknowledged than understood.
It means He
really, really, really likes/loves/cares about us.
While there are stories
in Genesis and from our lives illustrating how people mess up what He designed
and made as good by
not paying attention to Him, no one nor no thing change His mind about us.
While too many
people who don't get it/Him - particularly the obvious connection that we're
all part of the same family because we've got one Source, Starter, and
Sovereign - and don't like/love/care about us, He always has from Genesis.
Please take some
time to read the book itself.
There are lots of
interesting stories about how we've always messed up relationships between Him
Yet, as Grandpa
Kopp always warned, "Don't miss the forest for the trees!"
No matter what
anyone tries to do, God's still inviting and welcoming us back home to Him.
Later on in the
book, somebody who finally got it/Him put it/Him this way, "I am convinced
nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our
Jesus sealed the
deal that began at the beginning when God made us for Himself as Source,
Starter, and Sovereign.
It's/He's the end
of His story
that has always included us from Genesis.
While Scratching the Surface of Genesis was scheduled for release today, we're taking another
detour/deepening dictated by yesterday's revelations from unHappy Valley in
It seems the
iconic coach knew about the dirty details for over a decade and, uh, did
nothing; or as Sarge Shultz pretended, "I know nothing. I hear
nothing. I see nothing."
has been, uh, disclosed to confirm what many have suspected.
and souls were raped for years and years and years despite the
"saintly" coach, AD, VP, and P knowing about it because the reputation of the
"saintly" coach, football program, and university were deemed more
important than children's bodies and souls being raped.
I mean wrong.
I don't need to
catalogue the sins in an anti-Pauline kinda way.
You know the sick
Yet I've been thinking
about a thread through it all that brought Nixon back to mind in what seems to
me to be a striking parallel that repeats itself over and over and over again
like it just did in unHappy
Nixon could have
preserved a better place in history for himself if he wouldn't have conspired
to cover-up the sins of those burglars being managed by underlings.
have preserved a better place in history for himself if he wouldn't have
conspired to cover-up Jerry's sins.
And before anyone
suggests any kinda nobility on Paterno's part for not, uh, disclosing the
darkly despicable behavior of one of his coaches/friends, keep in mind that
we're not talking about an indiscretion or political dirty trick or momentary
lack of judgment. We're
talking about a conspiracy to cover-up the rape of children's bodies and souls
in deference to the fans/boosters who idolized-some-still-idolize-him-anyway
the coach and his football program and his university!
And anyone who
tries to rationalize away any of it - even Jay who can be almost excused
as, uh, a child of... - is sick, sick, sick.
Now read John
Now read it again
Now think back to
Nixon, think now to Paterno, and think about...
True, as the
misguided Marine said, some people can't handle the truth.
So they hide it.
They don't talk
They don't do
anything about it.
Ergo, they are
accomplices with it.
I've been accused
of being too open with the officers and members of His-not-my church about, uh,
I've been accused
of answering direct questions with direct answers.
I've been accused
of indiscretion by forwarding e-mails that people have written about other
people that are...
I've been accused
of talking about things that people don't want to talk about like apostasy,
meanness, hypocrisy, and other sneaky, irascible, irregular, and irreconcilable
behaviors inme as
well as others.
I've been accused
of taking the Lion of Judah thing too seriously; and moving from the strong
calm sanity of watching the pride/family to the ferocious, unrelenting, and
pursuing foe of anyone likeme who
poses Christianity while giving comfort to the enemy in an Ephesians 6:10ff.
I've been accused
of telling too many insiders/outsiders what's really going on in the
franchise, government, His-not-my church, and all of the below.
I've been told I
write too much, say too much, get involved in too much, and...
I am guilty.
I praise God for
I praise God that
I don't have a secret password on my computer; so I'm not tempted to...
I praise God that
I don't keep secrets; and, remember, secrets and personal/pastoral
confidentialities are different things despite some folks pretending
otherwise. Secrets, more often than not, are not redemptive.
Usually, they hide pejorative behaviors. Personal/pastoral
confidentialities are part of a redemptive discipline.
I praise God that
I admit I've inhaled and looked...
I praise God that
I know I have sinned, sin, and will...
Now read 1 John
I have mourned
for the Nixons for a long time because Richard did not understand the wisdom of
Jesus in John 3:19-21.
I mourn for the
Paternos and Nittany Lions because JoePa along with the AD, VP, and P did
not understand the wisdom of Jesus in John 3:19-21.
I mourn for
churches and governments and businesses and clubs and...who do not pray and try
to live by the wisdom of Jesus in John 3:19-21.
I mourn for my
parents, sister, wife, children, friends, and anyone who has ever suffered
because I have not understood the wisdom of Jesus in John 3:19-21.
And that mourning
makes me want to obey His wisdom in John 3:19-21.
if we want to keep keepin' those secrets and walk in darkness
because we don't want anyone to turn the light on our...
Well, I hope we
know what He meant in John 3:19-21.
If not, we've
learned nothing from the Nixons and Paternos and me and...
As noted in the
last edition, Scratching
the Surface will dominate KDs for the next six months or so; but there will be an
occasional detour as inspired/indigested.
This is one of
Watch for Scratching the Surface of Genesis in the next edition!
Anyway, I just
got back from presiding at a nuptial in a sanctuary of God's creative beauty -
St. Augustine Beach, Florida.
Parenthetically, I am often reminded how the Bible often reminds us that
our Lord's presence is not restricted to space or time; and
whenever/wherever His people gather in His name for worship, holy communion
Of course, we
know people are into their little Babels, icons, idols, and...religion about
Him even more than relationship with Him.
Go back to the
preface of Scratching
the Surface (right column).
Really, how we
ever came up with so much of our religious stuff about Him that blurs/distracts
from a relationship with Him is beyond me; and as you've read in the preface,
that's why I feel like I'm just Scratching the Surface. Increasingly,
I'm leaving religion about Jesus for a relationship with Him as I try to be an
leading people away, uh, from religion about Him to a relationship with Him.
Or something like
Be that as it is, the
wedding was wonderfully authentic and His presence graced the announcement of
what He has done and will do for Alissa and Brandon.
While immersed in
praise to God for His providence in the marriage of Alissa and Brandon, I had
three other inspirations/indigestions.
You can decide if
they were detours or deepenings.
First, I went to
Like bikers will
tell you about the ride to freedom, there's no way for me to explain if
you don't know.
Kinda like a
relationship with Jesus over religion about Him.
Well, recalling how I often went there with a "covenant"
group, I lamented briefly about the broken "covenant" related
to Romans 12:3,10 and James 4 kinda stuff; and I grew inflamed
over hypocrites in Christian clothing who say how much they love
Jesus while they separate and segregate themselves from other hypocrites
in Christian clothing who say how much they...
say they love Jesus by distancing and divorcing themselves from other people
who say they love Jesus have no credibility to stand up in their churches on
Sunday mornings to pontificate like posers on how people can get
together through Jesus when they don't.
Lots of 'em wear
those silly vestments to cover up who they really...
Didn't Jesus say
something about that/them?
It's like my wife
says when she wants to capture my attention, "Why don't you practice what
Second, I called
the franchise church in the old city about Sunday worship and got a recording
about their services at 8:00 and 10:00 a.m.
We arrived at 7:45
a.m. to discover the recording hadn't been changed to account for only one
summer service at 10:00 am.
So we went down
the street to another franchise church and worshipped.
The preacher, the
senior's associate, uh, preached on God's creating everyone in His image a la
really, really got to me in a Scratching the Surface kinda way was
his simple specificity: "God doesn't see tall or short or black or white
or brown or red or yellow or skinny or overweight or Democrat or
Republican or Methodist or...All He sees is relatives in His family...Everyone
loved as much as and no more than..."
I needed that
confirmation/challenge/castigation after going to Osteen's and reading reports
of my denomination's latest meeting and watching Obama/Romney hate/meanspirited
Third, as I left
the other franchise church and felt as close to God as I've ever felt
anywhere with anyone at anytime and savored the wedding in a sanctuary of God's
creative beauty on St. Augustine Beach and felt as close to God as I've ever
felt anywhere with anyone at anytime, I recalled my second homiletics professor
and dissertation advisor's movement from religion about Jesus to relationship
with Jesus not long after he retired from the religion about Jesus over
relationship with Jesus institutional gig.
I'll never forget
how he invited me to worship with him at an "emerging" church on
He said he
started going there on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings because he wanted
If I have to
complete that sentence for you, you wouldn't understand anyway.
While Scratching the Surface will dominate KDs
for the next six months or so, there will be an occasional detour like this
My daddy likes to
say, "Some people don't like to see anything happen for the first
He also laments,
"Some people look like they're either having a vision of God or didn't get
to the toilet in time."
It's like KDs.
You be the judge;
and I've learned many folks feel comfortable in that position.
detours and judgmentalism, I've heard a lot about it concomitant to The Voice.
It's a new
translation/paraphrase/hybrid - You
be the judge! - of the Bible.
It was first
brought to my attention by the founder and manager of www.bnnsradio.com (Bill Villont).
journey with Jesus is deepening moment by confessing moment and the fruit of
joy and patience are growing exponentially as evidence of his increasing
intimacy with Jesus, I kinda blew it off at first because I really don't have
time to go to the bathroom these days not to mention reading/reviewing another
don't come cheaply these days and I've been saving up my $ for
gas/meals/lodging as my annual missionary/recreational
trip to South Dakota approaches.
I've said before from years of understanding/experiencing how God works when we
totally depend upon Him (read Matthew 5:3; 6:33-34; 7:7-12; James 4:3), a not
so anonymous friend dropped his dime and sent a copy to me.
Be that as it/He is, I've
been reading/absorbing it for a few days now; and have, like Scratching the Surface, some things to say about it/Him without the
benefit/pollution of anybody else's reviews. In other words, this review
is sure to upset well-heeled scholars and those who think God only speaks in
I was kinda
surprised to see the name of a former seminary classmate among those on the
translation team; though I guess I shouldn't have been because he was the only
one who got an A from Bright when the great OT guy spent a semester
I got a B; which kinda proves where I've always been with classical languages -
close but no...
Actually, I would
have gotten an A but Paul Swedlund (RIP) made me go with him to pick up
a con in a Newark bar who skipped on parole. When I told Paul
that I had a final with Bright the next morning, he asked me what Jesus would
do. Dang. That question can be so annoying; especially when I'm
about to... So we went, got home about two hours before the final, and I
came pret' near close to getting a C for the course if you know what I mean.
are also some poets and musicians who served on the project to produce The Voice that I've known
over the years.
So I guess I
opened the first pages with a bias; unlike anyone else who...
You know what I mean.
Things that stand
out for me if not you or the people who've already condemned it without ever
looking at it (Psst. Church
people are notorious about the second part of the previous sentence!):
1. The notes
interspersed/embedded throughout the text, meaning you don't have to look
all over the place for 'em, are surprisingly accurate/cogent in a
literary/traditio-historical-critical kinda way; for even a B classical
language fellah like me can pick that up.
2. The style
reminds me a lot of The
Message yet often reads like the NIV on steroids.
identifications in a theatrical fashion allow even non-speed-readers to zip
through it with heretofore (pour moi at least) ease and recollection.
amplifications within the text, added for expositional and sometimes exegetical
clarity, are captivating, clear, concise, crisp, and confirming of the broader
meanings of classical languages juxtaposed to Thayer, TDNT, and so on.
5. Going back to
#3, it reads like the script for a Shakespearian play without an antiquated or
incomprehensible-to-21st-century-readers literary genre.
6. There are some
really helpful special features on lectio
divina, the liturgical calendar avec appropriate readings, retreat
plans, unique topical guides, and so on.
7. While I know
KJVers and other bigots will condemn what they never actually review
personally, I think it's a wonderful supplement to your favorite
translation/paraphrase; especially for the occasionally curious, just
converted, or recently revived in a Scratching the Surface kinda way.
It also proves
God intended the Bible as self-authenticating and comprehensible for anyone
apart from commentaries and books and other stuff about it.
reading about it.
If you'd like to
hear more about The Voice, click
on www.bnnsradio.com next Tuesday (7/10)
at 11:30 a.m. as Kathie, Bill, and Tony review the preceding along with their thoughts
while I'm in Florida to preside at the nuptial of Alissa and Brandon and then
7/17 at the same time/station when I rejoin the cast of Kopp Disclosure to give it a whirl/review.
"I will tear to bits the dissertations of the Ph.D.s;
I will pull the rug from under those
who have all the answers."
1 Corinthians 1:19
Clarence Jordan, The
Cotton Patch Version, 1968
reading Hans Kung's On Being
a Christian in 1976, my life and ministry have been challenged by
these sentences: the Church's agenda is "to discover what is
permanent...originally meant, before it was covered with the dust and debris of
two thousand years...This is not another gospel, but the same ancient gospel
rediscovered for today!"
35 years later
(October 2011), I spent a week with three buddies and Eugene Peterson in
Montana; and as I sat and listened and even inquired, I was overwhelmed by how
such a renowned pastor, professor, and prolific author talked so simply about
the deepest truths of Holy Scripture.
Then it/He hit
Everyone who has
ever asked and sometimes begged me to speak and write simply remain right.
Indeed, as my
passion for Bible-reading grew and grew and grew every moment with Eugene and
has not lessened since, I recalled how no one was confused when Jesus ended the
best sermon ever (Matthew 5-7). They understood every word; even if they
had no intention of paying any attention to Him.
He spoke simply
because He wanted everyone to get it/Him.
I confess I've
not always done that.
I confess I'm
having a hard time doing it.
Yet I am
convinced He wants/expects/commands me to keep trying until I stop separating
myself from anyone by degrees
and communicate the clear, concise, compelling, challenging to the
content, comforting to the suffering, timely, eternal, and universally relevant
message of Jesus.
In short, I feel
like I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus.
I feel like I'm
reading the Bible for the first time every time I open it.
I feel like I'm
starting all over again in life and ministry; moving from a religion about
Jesus to a relationship with Him.
I suspect I'm not
I suspect there
are first-timers and older-timers who feel like they're just scratching the
surface of their relationship with Jesus.
pages are for, uh, us.
summaries of basics in Bible books will be negligent, incomplete, inaccurate,
and horrifyingly superficial to many scholars and the wannabes who buy their
books that become dust-catchers because they're so incomprehensible.
Again, I'm just
scratching the surface and admit there are many others who get it/Him much
better than me.
So if I'm
scratching where you ain't sniffing, I won't be offended if you poop-can this
copy because you can do a better job.
Go for it!
For Christ's sake
and anyone who wants to get closer to Him!