This website is not the platform for me to express every little detail that I have learned about Christian/Biblical history contrasted against the social, economic, and political history of Christians over time. That would take TOOOOO LOOOOOOONG. I will say that there is a direct correlation between historical customs, laws, and thoughts compared against the rules and regulations in the bible. To that end, I argue that many of the things printed in the bible are mere reflections of the political, social, and moral climate of the time it was originally recorded. The bible has long been used as a tool to suppress the voice of the disenfranchised, and control the behavior of Christian followers. Many of our common ideas concerning the church are the direct result of Constantine the Great's conversion to Christianity because of his influence on the church leaders at the time, and his commissioning of the early Christian bibles. Moreover, the actual organization of the bible was carried out by various groups of men throughout history (research biblical cannons). These historical facts that I teach do upset many people who are biblical literalists (people who interpret the bible literally and usually have a very fundamentalist idea of the scriptures. More often than not they use the scriptures to support their denomination's/culture's idea of the bible and consider anyone wrong who does not agree with their interpretation). I do believe that we can find God in the bible; however, I also believe that God is bigger than the bible. I believe that the idea/concept of God in the bible is often slanted based on the ideas of man at any particular time in history. This is why I love the thought of the United Church of Christ- God is still speaking, I do not believe that we serve God or God's children by keeping God ancient. Does not God still speak? Does not God still have the ability to move, inspire, teach, and give thoughts, directions, and purpose? Many people argue that no matter what research shows God is "Powerful enough" to keep/protect God's word. In other words, they say that no matter how people have altered or changed the bible and the scriptures God will not let them negatively impact the bible as the word of God. I think this is ridiculous. I despise the copout that 'God's going to fix and take care of everything.' "Christians" sprinkle phrases like this on anything they don't want to deal with. If that's the case why should we even do anything or try anything? We should just sit back and let "God take care of everything." The reality is that in spiritual matters we must move past the theoretical and move into the practical. This means we must work to deal with and make sense of spiritual matters in a way that makes sense to us intellectually. Spirituality must be practical because we do not live life in theory- we actually live, breath, work, and survive. The practicality of spirituality is what makes it relevant. Christian denominations and churches all over America are shrinking because people do not feel that the church is relevant. People do not feel that the church is relevant because the ancient narrative that many "Christians" hold fast too seems less and less practical. Furthermore, instead of seeking more information and knowledge, most churches and church leaders force the limiting archaic and ancient rules/laws on their congregations who in turn often decide to just stay home. People stay home because the belief that "God is going to fix everything" is not enough- it doesn't make sense because after a while everything is not fixed yet. Consider this- what do prosperity preachers do when after thirty years of listening to the "get rich" sermons the members are still broke? We must seek enlightenment, answers, and truth. We live, move, and have our being in truth! Spirituality is work. Work to not just believe, but also work to be enlightened.
God is still speaking; however, I don't know how many people actually expect God to say anything. One major problem is that the church now belongs to a select few- the wealthy, the men, the heterosexuals, the established, the well groomed, the well educated, the politically well connected, and the like- what happens to those who own/operate the church once they have to share more authority and space with those whom they have traditionally ostracized? What happens once the people who have been made to feel better than or "special" and who have kept churches open with their sacrificial giving no longer feel special? The church must be relevant to more than a select few if the church is going to survive and thrive. Christianity is a tool that can connect communities, build bridges, and bless lives, but only if we move away from the idea of Christian privledge and began to focus on the greatest commandment of all- LOVE ONE ANOTHER! What if most of what you were taught about God is wrong? What if God really wants females to preach and teach just like men are encouraged to? What if God really doesn't banish all gay people to hell? What if God really doesn't want you to judge others the way you do? What if God doesn't require you to speak in tongues in order to get to be saved? What if God loves you just the way you are without you having to prove anything to the people at the church? What if your church is wrong? What if God is one of us? What if God is the one your church kicked away, criticized and ostracized? What if God really is love, yet you show love to so few people? What if what you called love God called judgment? What if you, your church, your ministry, or your witness isn't relevant? (tough questions) -Rev. Derek