To Be Alone with the New Testament

I don’t intend to be philosophical, nor to try to impress by quoting a philosopher/theologian, but I came across this quote in my current reading of The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, and found it to be profoundly applicable to the 21st century church.  Claiborne quotes 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 obligated 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 even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

Kierkegaard’s words are sharp, but do they hit a nerve?  I wonder sometimes if we have gone so far afield to explain away many of the things Jesus said as merely a principle to be lived by and not a more straightforward command?  It is obvious that when He says to amputate a limb rather than being offended by it, He is not advocating such a drastic action for that would violate other teachings of the New Testament about our body being the temple of the Holy Spirit.  However, when He says to the Rich Young Ruler, go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and come follow me, is He merely saying that we should be “willing” to rid ourselves of what stands between us and God?  Can’t we give all we have beyond what we need to meet the needs of others?  These are healthy tensions with which we must strive to know how to live the New Testament life.

I pray that as we endeavor to saturate ourselves with God’s Word, that we will not shy away from allowing the Word to come “too close.”  We must hydrate, but we must not be bulimic as we do so.  I must take it in and digest it…I must let it nourish and impact my heart.  I must be willing to be alone with the New Testament [Bible] and hear with a willing ear.

How about it…how are you saturating yourself with the Word?  How is it changing you?  What are your struggles to consistency?

4 Responses to “To Be Alone with the New Testament”

  1. January 24, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I think you are right on! I must admit that there are times in my past that I have felt just that way. I was not willing to give myself totally to God and did not realize just how much I was messing up by being selfish. I am learning so much with this hydrate study and I want to thank all the pastoral staff at FFWB for working so hard to lead this church in the right direction. God is so awesome and has blessed our congretation with an AMAZING group of God-centered leaders. Again, thanks to all of you!GOD BLESS YOU! 🙂


  2. 2 Reece Carter
    January 24, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    We have cause to be uneasy.

    Humans are adroit at describing physical law: relativity, quantum mechanics, the human genome. This is because these discoveries have no consequences other than illumination and progress. But the Word is a different realm: When men discover the Word they find that it speaks, compels, offends. When men discover the Word they meet with regress. How can a man have personal progress when he finds he is a sinner? How can personal progress be made when another’s dreams and hopes are to be made more important than your own? How can progress occur when we find that God is right and we are wrong, in every aspect? There is no room for indulgence in the Word. It is as hard as nails. The Word is poison.

    What is the antidote? Kierkegaard has it just right: We keep the poison at arm’s length with rationalization. He reveals a clash of titans here – man’s self imposed complexity versus the Word’s simplicity. The Word is irreducible, a prime number, and it puts simply our plight. We rebel: Our diagnosis cannot, and must not, be relegated so. We are much too important for that. So we interpolate to ease our hearts and build ourselves up. What could be better? It is the manliest idea.

  3. January 24, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks, Mary, for your kind words. Our reward is seeing how God is working through Hydrate to impact lives and families. May He continue to do so for His glory.

    Well said, Reece, “The Word is irreducible, a prime number, and it puts simply our plight.”

  4. 4 Reece Carter
    January 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Mary is so right: How easy it is to take ANYTHING and turn it into selfish desire. It’s so easy it makes me…..uneasy.

    Healthy tension…..healthy tension…..Let’s pray that God keeps a healthy tension on us.

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