Thursday, February 24, 2005

What is religion?

I didn't realize this till' tonight but came to find out that the word religion is only defined in one place in the Bible: in the book of James. What's even more interesting is that James defines religion in two ways: (1) as ministering to the poor and the widows and the orphans, and (2) as practicing personal reflection and/or concerned with affairs of oneself. Call me crazy, but doesn't it seem like churches tend to do one or the other and not both?

My church upbringing tends towards the latter, where everything revolves around the individual and social justice isn't even mentioned, talked about, or advocated. But in other church settings, it seems that everything from the sermon to the liturgy reflects a keen awareness for a social gospel. Yet, in these churches, they lack any personal self-evaluation and/or reflection. Why can't we marry the two? Is it simply too hard for us today as it was for the audience of James' letter?

In other "bible talk," Rahab continues to fascinate me. I think if I could only meet a few people from history (who are mentioned in the Bible) she'd be one of them. Like Paul, her turning to God was radical and suspicious. Others doubted her faithfulness but yet she's mentioned in Hebrews as having faith like Abraham! And yet ironically (is it ironic?), she lied to keep the spies safe.

I don't know about you but I love it when Bible stories trump our so-called "ethical problems." I believe there is an absolute in every situation but could it be that the absolute in one situation differs from the absolute in another? That is, could lying be the best option in one scenario and the wrong one in another? This sounds sticky but look at the story of Rahab and tell me that's not what was happening.

Good night all. Sorry for the preaching.

1 comment:

nateshorb said...

we were talking about absolutes in contemp and lying came up and rahab was mentioned. it was an interesting conversation. thats all, really.