How to Be a Revolution: Read Your Bible

By Eugene C. Scott
Revolution! Facebook–and Twitter even–is being given partial credit for the overthrow of dictator Hasni Mubarak in Egypt. Protesters logged on to Facebook to share information and to gain an unfettered audience for their cause. Words–freely and virally disseminated–drove the Egyptian revolution. Thus informed and motivated, thousands of brave men and women stepped out of the virtual world and into the real one to face bullets, rocks, sticks, imprisonment and possibly death in order to gain freedom. We salute them and pray freedom takes root and grows as wild as weeds.

But just as Al Gore did not invent the Internet, so the Internet did not invent freedom of thought and expression. As seismic as its impact has been, the world wide web is simply the latest version–Freedom.4.0 so to speak–in a long line of word weapons we have wielded in the fight for freedom.

 

Original case for the 1611 Bible

Ironically 2011 is the 400th anniversary of one of human history’s greatest triumphs of the written word in our continuing battle for freedom. Similar to how we witnessed the successful end of the Egyptian protests (we hope and pray), people in the year 1611 saw the end of a violent 200 year revolution. With words, and fierce faith and determination, the protestors finally triumphed.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before that–some two thousand years ago–Jesus, not the written word but the living Word, started a revolution in another time of severe economic, political, and religious oppression delivering us freedom never before imagined. This freedom promised not the mere overthrow of a despot dictator or corrupt system but rather the release of our bodies, minds and spirits from the tyranny of sin and corruption. We no longer had to cower to our own fears, cruelties, hates, frailties, and failures. Nor those of others.  Jesus proclaimed the truth would set us free.

What truth? That his life, death, and resurrection freed us from guilt, fear and separation from our Creator. Lean not on a ruler, president, government, religious system, or philosophy for what you need. These are blank-eyed idols. Dead. Jesus said. Then Jesus even conquered that ultimate tyrant: death.

In words inspired by God himself, Jesus’ followers wrote down the story and truth of Jesus’ revolution. Slowly–but just as virally as if the very air carried the story–the Word spread. First slaves, women and children learned they were valued and free in Christ. Boldly they struck out to live new lives. Then others bravely joined in. Often facing ridicule, torture, and death for their beliefs. Eventually even kings, dictators, and governments bent their knees to Christ the different kind of king. The good news of freedom in Christ conquered much of the world. Even the Roman Empire was reborn, this time with a soul.

Then slow tragedy struck. The Word, the story loved and lived by so many, was captured by the elite. Written in Latin, a language common folk no longer spoke, this great story of freedom disappeared from the streets and alleys and kitchens and living rooms and squares and markets of life. With the written Word locked in monasteries, cellars, libraries, studies, and castles, freedom vanished. The truth of Jesus‘ kind of freedom became a mere shadow of itself, like a wonderful childhood story heard before the fire but now only vaguely remembered and smiled at. Worse yet, the elite added untrue elements to the story. With their elite and twisted knowledge and power, these corrupt ones sucked freedom, faith, belief, truth, and life from their people like early versions of J.K. Rowling’s dementors.

But God kept for himself a remnant, a faithful few who read God’s amazing story in Latin and Greek and Hebrew and saw the truth shining from its pages like a search light in a dark sky. Then for two hundred years this remnant, men–and probably women too but unfortunately history did not record them–with names like Wycliffe, Huss, Gutenberg, Erasmus, Tyndale, Luther, Knox, Calvin, and Cranmer began to love and live Jesus’ original story again. Not only that, they began to retell it–translate and publish it–in the language of the people: common German, French, and finally English. Many died for this. Burned at the stake, tortured, shunned, hated. But they kept protesting, fighting.

Then in 1611 God drew all the work and struggle into one beautiful Book. That was the year King James authorized the publishing of Jesus’ revolutionary story in common, though beautiful and poetic, English. Finally, those translating and publishing this scared story would not be held in contempt or killed for making it available to the common people. Freedom was reborn.

Today we–and even the Muslim Egyptian protestors–are children of those brave revolutionaries. The historical strings that tie us to these ancient protestors (today called Protestants) have been lost, cut, and often purposefully obscured. But their God given love for Jesus and his truth about freedom drove them to fight against religious and political oppression. We bask in their work. Much of our belief in freedom of speech and our obsession with free thinking, learning, and expressing our beliefs and ideas is rooted in the story of Jesus–who spoke out against religious oppression long ago–and in the story of those who followed him and believed that every person should have access to this book of truth.

Today we call that book the Bible. Four hundred years ago this year, the Authorized King James version of the Bible was first published. Since then, it is the “most published book in the world . . the only book with one billion copies in print.” The King James Bible, along with its predecessors and descendants is a book of revolution: personal, national and international.

There is probably a copy of it, looking deceptively quaint, hidden somewhere in your house. Happy four hundredth birthday King James! Break out the Book and celebrate.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

9 responses to “How to Be a Revolution: Read Your Bible

  1. Georgie-ann

    True freedom comes only from God — and it is inward freedom from sin. It is satan who oppresses and enslaves, by working through his own darkness in the souls of fallen men. Even some of the strongest-minded Libertarians of our day — thinking that they are working for personal and political “freedom” — are only selfishly serving the lusts of their own flesh. Their bondage (slavery) is not apparent to themselves.

    Romans 12:2
    “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

    Following are a few excerpts and insightful quotes from an article that came to me recently by e-mail:

    “Man’s fallen nature is so attracted to sin that, in face of the intense, immediate sinful pleasure, the possibility of a future reward in Heaven alone is inadequate to restrain his passion.”

    “A reflection attributed to Saint Augustine affirms that, because of Original Sin, if Hell did not exist to punish evil, life here on earth would be transformed into a hell* because without fear of future punishment, most men would selfishly seek their own advantage, and few would restrain their passions for the sake of love.”

    “But if he loses the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom,
    he will not be able to open his soul to supernatural help and will have only his own strength, weakened by naturalist optimism.”

    These quotes caused me to think on how “greasy grace” just doesn’t cut it, and how sad I am for this generation of young people who seem so adrift morally and spiritually without a compass.

    Truly, the Word of God is our precious link to truth, salvation, freedom and life everlasting.

    Here is another interesting quote (from Paul):

    Romans 6:19
    “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

    It is interesting that we find our true freedom by becoming “slaves of righteousness.” Apparently, we must bow to something. Bowing to God is the better choice by far.

    (note from above): hell* (do we see signs of this now, in our own times?)

    • Georgie-ann:

      Freedom in Christ alone might be our new reformers’ mantra. My, my, you sound as Calvinist as Catholic. 🙂 How the world has changed. Many of those denominational lines have been erased. Eugene

  2. Georgie-ann

    Dear Eugene, I don’t really understand your comment, and I’m guessing that maybe you don’t understand mine either. I’m hardly a Calvinist, but I do wish to understand the mechanism(s) by which mankind, even and especially the modern intellectualized versions, fall under the captivating spells of satan.

    I’m not particularly referring to Christians by any means, but to the signs of the lostness of those who produce the media offerings that would seriously lead impressionable and innocent youth astray. This being said from the heart of a mother who watches the problems in so many many families brought on by this pervasive media influence. Are you denying that this is so? If so, we simply don’t see eye to eye on the danger of the attractive power of sin, and the vulnerability of our youth. How does it seduce and hurt the lives of so many?

    I couldn’t agree more that freedom is found in Christ!,…So, what are you saying?

    • Georgie-ann:

      I may not have understood yours. But what I meant by mine is that you wrote a very clearly about our inability to save ourselves or even communicate with God on our own. Calvin used those same passages you did and called this part of his theology “total human depravity.” That is all I was referring to. I was not thinking of the other petals of Calvin’s supposed T.U.L.I.P.

      And I was attempting humor. You see Calvin–and the others reformers mentioned in my blog–were protesting the theology of the then established church. What we call today the Catholic Church. The leaders of that iteration of the church insisted only priests could have access to Scripture and that it must be read in Latin.

      So, for you a faithful (and respected by me) Catholic to have such a knowledge and love for Scripture and then to articulate a view of human sin that mirrors John Calvin is a beautiful and ironic thing.

      I am sure there are areas my Protestant theology reflects our ancient Catholic roots as well. I know that I have a view of God speaking through the faith community Though not in the same way he does in the Bible) that may come close to an adulterated Catholic view.

      Anyway, fun conversation and I hope I did not offend. Not my intention. God, bless.

      Eugene

  3. Mike

    Hi everyone:

    Maybe it was at “greasy grace” where some confusion enters. I find myself very in sympathy with Calvin who believed that without God’s intervening grace none of us could believe since we are totally depraved, incapable of doing any good thing.
    I am very in sympathy with Georgie-ann in several specifics: one being the comment about Libertarians. I think this means not everyone we agree with on 90% of political and religious issues is truly a follower of Christ and his radical ultimacy (if that is a word).

    Eugene is saying, I think, that without access to the written word the masses fall prey to those who interpret and embellish it for their own benefit. Many suffer for the loss and when it is recaptured there is revolution (which can be very good and needed)
    The irony is that with a billion KJV’s out there we live in a culture where knowledge of the bible has dwindled and ACLU types are busy with attempts to eliminate all knowledge of scripture – with much success. Not unlike what has happened in history (Eugene relates above) we may shortly have only the knowledge of scripture that somone else tells us it says. And of course the remnant (is that you and me?) will have it but face persecution and ridicule. Why? Because the Bible truly is revolutionary. It tells us where true freedom is found.
    The ACLU, our politicians, other religions, the main-stream media, dictators, and the great father of lies himself, Satan don’t want anyone to know what true freedom is. They want to establish their own version of how life should be under their control!
    My own editorial comment to this is that utopian thinkers and other control nuts jobs truly believe they can establish a society based on “social justice” and shared wealth and coexistence and multi-culturalism for one simple reason: they do not believe in or they greatly discount the reality and the power of evil. Calvin got this one right. Evil is real and it attacks with lies. So if we can suppress the Bible where true freedom is found, and where truth comes with a capital T the enemy appears to win. And people suffer. Of course the media don’t onsider themselves the enemy and are greatly offended if we tell it like it is. So if they can just suppress those bible believers…
    MIKE

    • Mike and Georgie-ann:

      Yes, as one who deserves none of God’s love and who without grace would be lost, the phrase “greasy grace” did throw me off a bit. Can you clarify, Georgie-ann?

      Mike:

      Your second paragraph hit the nail on the head. That was exactly my point. Thanks for affirming it. I believe most people who don’t read the Bible refrain not because they really believe it is old and irrelevant. But rather because in reading it God messes with us and calls us to repentance, reformation, and revolution. That in fact is what happened to the ancient saints I refer to. Eugene

  4. Georgie-ann

    Thanks, Mike!

    I’ve come to God through such a winding, but enduring way/path, that I’ve truly lost track of what definition or teaching (from which facet of ministry or tradition) has come from where.

    No offense at all is intended as I mull over thoughts and concepts, and try to get to root causes and effects of things we have to see everyday — and wonder about.

    I will admit that serious spiritual warfare has played a part in my path, so I prefer not ignore the role of Satan as being an “unmentionable” player in our Christian drama. I also check in joyfully with the Union Life folks, and have learned to discuss and value both aspects of Law and Grace, Righteousness, Courage and Mercy. I don’t think we can have one without the other, but it’s all in how it fits together.

    Of course, Love is the ultimate essence of all things spiritual. And like Peter, I say to the Lord, as He washed feet, surely I am not worthy, but give me ALL you have to offer!!! I’m wide open!! (paraphrased!) (and crazy 4U!)

    I’ve learned that learning to say “No!” is as important (and sometimes more difficult) as learning to say “Yes!” is in living the Gospel. In fact, these are often reversed in practice, between the answers of the natural man vs. the spiritual man.

    God’s Word is a most important and valuable guide to the sincere seeker. It is always a true testimony to the will and character of God. Eugene is absolutely correct that God wanted all men to have access to His precious Old and New Testaments of His Love, Truth, and Sacrifice for mankind — who were “in a bad pickle” as my grandma might have said.

    p.s., the video was great, too,…thank you!

  5. Georgie-ann

    Dear Eugene,

    Sorry, I just now saw your reply in my e-mail (it came delayed). I thought your first comment sounded like it was intended in good humor, but I also thought being considered Calvinistic was “NOT a good thing,” so you had me wondering! (and, p.s., those were old-time Catholic quotes!)

    One reason I’m doing this (writing to you), is to have the opportunity to interface verbally and conceptually as a modern Catholic with modern not-Catholics. I’m very convinced that there are many historically induced pre-conceptions that have colored the way we Christians try to view and picture other brands of our “religion” than that which we know by personal experience.

    I’ve been in the middle of quite a few different possibilities, though certainly not all by any means, and I’ve heard a lot of conjecture, misconceptions and frankly, out-right ignorant mud-slinging, — and this going both ways.

    For one thing, I do believe that God has orchestrated so much of our historical passage through time, as best as we humans were able to cooperate. And I believe that at all junctures He has had “His people.” And He has had people who thought that they were “His people,” but they weren’t, or they were half-and-half, or whatever. Each “now moment” (the present) with God is a chance for Him and for us to renew our acquaintance and update our connection and understanding of what we’re all about — with Him first, of course, and with each other.

    So, we can’t really go on hear-say or simple historical anecdotes in judging a whole people or work of God. It does seem that God urges mankind always to grow and expand beyond even the good things that have come before. In spite of all my complaints, just look at all the even simply mundane opportunities available to us in this day and age that never ever existed before!

    So, just because some people in authority in the Medieval Church, (body of Christ), were set in their ways and corrupt — (is this not a frequent problem at all times with humans in authority — absolute power corrupting absolutely?) — is it really OK to assume that there is nothing left of value in their descendants, who have also had God walking with them through history since then, AND the Word of God available to them in the vernacular? Isn’t it also possible that God did not abandon His people there (as He said He wouldn’t), and has been working substantively in their midst since then?

    As I see it, God has been at serious work in ALL phases of His Body, and that for a season, and perhaps for a reason, we’ve been running with God in “parallel universes” so-to-speak, but I’m wagering that at this point we all have developed a lot of richness that we can share, analyze, dissect, learn from, grow from, and rejoice in!

    I think the time really has arrived that we can come together in a blessed time of discovery, losing the accusations, presumptions, and hopefully, defensiveness.

    As I explained elsewhere, I was initially in danger of never being brought anywhere near a Church or God, by what my parents believed were their good intentions. I’m nothing but grateful for any whiff or nugget of God’s Truth that I can, or do, find because I got a significant dose of what it’s like “to be without Him,” something that now keeps me pressed very close to His bosom. I am and have been pretty eclectic about God, even though I am a serious practicing Catholic in fact, and am looking forward to sharing God in all His fullness with whomever. I could yield to the false fear that I should just hold my tongue so as not to intimidate, confuse, or offend someone, but somehow, I just don’t think that that is God’s voice talking. So, I’m all set “to take the plunge!”

    Let the yakking begin! I’m all ears.

    Just got Eugene’s e-mail about “greasy grace.” I really had no idea that that could be controversial! It was a term coined a really long time ago (in my memory), to describe a tendency that was prevalent at some time, where Christians — probably not Catholic ones — were describing a tendency of people to “get saved,” but then fairly easily backsliding and indulging in all kinds of things in the name of “grace” and “not being under the law.” I have a feeling that there was a kind of ignorance and presumption involved. The discussion about Law and Grace in a Christian’s life is a very serious one,…certainly not greasy! Did that help?

    God bless,…Love, your friend, Georgie (xoxox!) (I wish this machine would make hearts!)

  6. Georgie-ann

    One other thing, Eugene: in my spiritual growth/development, I at first became more aware of Satan, (and some of those humans seriously used by his abusive control and influence), as Enemy #1, before I really “got the picture” about my own self-centered and weak fleshly inclinations, and those of others, — our mutually common “human condition.”

    It has only been in the Light of the goodness of God and His loving and filling Presence with and within me over the years, that I have become able to compare what my flesh was incapable of doing and being on its own, without Him, to the Blessing of His faithful and uplifting Spirit and influence, which has been growing within me.

    What was there before God entered the picture, was all I knew. I had nothing to compare it too — no way to even judge it good or bad. Pleasant or unpleasant maybe, problematic and certainly insufficient, empty and powerless, dessicated vanity of vanities, I DID know that I wanted and needed more than this.

    As our culture has descended into greater and greater spiritual darkness and overt degradation, I have begun to see more clearly what “the flesh” is capable of “without God” and “tempted by its own lusts and Satan,” and how stubborn and obstinate in practicing evil and resisting Truth it can be. Everyday, before me now, is evidence that those Calvinistic quotes are really true for more of humanity than I ever would have imagined possible. I do find it grievous and even terrifying sometimes, and can imagine that “there, but for fortune, go I.”

    I am eternally grateful to God for rescuing me from a fate truly worse than death. I also believe that God has hidden the Truth about Himself in our human hearts as well, and the Day may soon come when this also will be revealed in greater fullness, resulting in the Salvation of many. For this I pray.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s