Red Herring Christianity by Christopher Harbin

Red Herring Christianity
Christopher B. Harbin
Luke 6:46-49

We live in a world of sound-bytes. It makes it difficult to dig into the deeper or more important issues and have meaningful dialogue. It makes it difficult to truly understand one's arguments, assumptions, and premises from which one takes a position. What seems to matter to most of us is defining who agrees with us on a small set of issues to which we have not given serious thought. We hear pastors, politicians, and other people of influence tell us that the issue before us is clear-cut. If it matches our prejudices and stereotypes or gives answer to our fears, that is often enough for us. Faith calls us to something deeper than superficial answers and bumper sticker theologies. If I am grounding my life in faith, shouldn't it have more solid moorings than a sound-byte?

Throughout my high school years, we had Bible class every day of the week. My conservative Christian school wanted us to dig into the Scriptures, memorize verses, and attend spiritual emphasis chapel services. The school days began with prayer, and our sports teams were encouraged to represent Christ in our sportsmanship. I owe many aspects of my background in the Scriptures to my years at that school and the influence of certain teachers. Some of that was a positive contribution, like one teacher who taught us to read an entire book of the Bible multiple times in a quest to study and understand it. Some of that influence came from seeing discrepancies between claims and what the Bible actually says.

I learned that while we might claim to believe the Bible and follow Jesus, there are many instances in which our actions, attitudes, and doctrines come from sources beyond what Jesus said and did. We accept our traditions about Jesus, about the Bible, about faith, without necessarily taking the time to consider whether they are actually in line with the teachings of the one we call Lord. All too often, they are in contradiction of ...


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