Tuesday, October 11, 2016


JFK had to deal with Bible literalists in Alabama who tried to prevent an African American student from attending college. They were led by a racist governor (Wallace) and a longstanding Southern tradittion of using scriptures to promote prejudice (such as Ephesians 6 'Slaves obey your masters"). JFK gave a brilliant speech about the verse in 2 Corinthians 3:6 that says "the letter of the law killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." He said that those who go by the letter of the scriptures miss the Spirit of Jesus who wants people set free.

The great theologian Augustine spoke of looking at the Bible more allegorically rather than literally. This was Abraham Lincoln's dilemma as well, dealing with Southern bible bangers who used the Old and New Testaments pro-slavery verses to claim it was a divine institution.

Isis is one of the few groups who do take Old Testament scriptures as literal law, and some horrific passages that speak of executing by stoning people for homosexuality, adultery, etc...

Some theologians advance a more reasonable view of progressive revelation, that man progresses and evolves through history beyond primitive understandings of God. Jesus had a motif in His Sermon On the Mount in which He quotes the Old Testament but them progresses it to a higher level of a God-concept of God as a loving, merciful Heavenly Father. He says over and over "Ye have heard it said unto you..." (then Jesus quotes a harsh Old Testament passage) "but I say unto you..." (then Jesus gives a more loving view.)

In the New Testament Book of James there is a quote that "mercy triumphs over judgment..." This is the gift of Jesus, that we are to "judge not lest we be judged" as Christ said. When an adulterous woman was brought before Him and the Isis of His day wanted to stone her, Jesus said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Those who take the letter of the law are some of the most dangerous people in our world today. Fundamentalists exist in all religions and we must rise above them and reassess scriptures in a way that promotes compassion, not condemnation, love not law, healing not hurting, grace not guilt.