Being in Belfast today has brought back some memories of a conference I went to over 10 years that fundamentally alterered my view of church..and not in a good way.
Simply put it was because the men at that particular conference seemed to worship the Bible and venerate preaching and proclamation more than Jesus. It was all about being a Bible centred youth worker.
Looking back that seemed to push a scepticism button in my head that church was often a bit fake, more about traditions and techniques, manipulation and polishing the outside.It seemed to be that if the Bible could be mastered then God could be mastered and controlled as well.
Also the Apostle Paul.He seemed to be more important Jesus.
Today I overheard a group of men in a coffee shop talking and it took me straight back.It wasn’t what they said but more the way it was being said, the attitude, confidence that this way (their way) is the right way.
I know it is unfair to judge people like that but that was my reaction.
I don’t know what else makes Christianity something more than just one more man made religion other than Jesus. He is the only thing that seems capable of turning the world upside down.I don’t know about theological arguments, how the world of Sunday morning at 12am in church gels with contemporary Irish culture but it seems to me that unless Jesus is central then its just men and their churchiosity.
I read this today in some of Vincent van Gogh’s letters.
‘the Bible which depresses us so much, which rouses all our despair and all our deepest discontent, and whose narrow-mindedness and parlous folly tear our hearts in two, contains one piece of consolation like a soft kernel in a hard shell, a bitter core, and that is Christ.’
‘I can well understand that you were a trifle surprised to hear how little I liked the Bible, although I have often tried to study it more thoroughly. Only its kernel—Christ—seems to me, from an artistic point of view, to stand higher than, or at any rate to be somewhat different from Greek, Indian, Egyptian, and Persian antiquities, although these also stood on a very high plane. But, I repeat, this Christ is more of an artist than all artists—he worked in living spirits and bodies—he made men instead of statues.’