We are using our superior military capabilities to protect our interests against an inferior and aggressive military force who was using its superior military capabilities to protect its interests against an inferior and aggressive military force.
Explorations in the New Testament this semester have given me a new awareness to my blind spots when it comes to the biblical text. It is easier to build a "biblical" theology when you emphasize certain parts more than others. This seems like a very bad way of going about reading your bible, after all, "All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching..." But I am convinced that some parts of scripture are more important than others and that all of us, if we are honest, have a "canon within the Canon." Furthermore, the parts that we select to be a part of our "canon" say a lot about who we believe God to be and how he interacts with humanity. So, for the sake of transparency and conversation, I offer to you my (little 'c') canon. (I will restrict this to the New Testament for now, though exploring this issue with the OT may be an even more important venture.)
My canon: Matthew 4:12-17 (The kingdom of heaven is near!) Matthew 5-7 (The Sermon on the Mount) Matthew 22:34-40 (The Greatest Commandment) Matthew 26:57-68; 27:11-66 (Jesus' Trial and Crucifixion) Mark 8:27-38 (Peter's confession of Christ and subsequent screw-up) Mark 14:32-42 (The Garden of Gethsemane) Luke 4:14-21 (Jesus reads Isaiah in Synagogue) Luke 9: 57-62 (Following Jesus is hard!) Luke 15: 11-32 (Parable of the Prodigal Son) Luke 24:13-35 (The Walk to Emmaus) John 1:1-18 (In the beginning was the Word...) John 13-17 (The farewell discourse) John 20 (Jesus' resurrection and appearance to Mary and the Disciples)
Acts 2 (Pentecost) Romans 6:1-23 (Dead to sin, alive in Christ and slaves to God) Romans 8 (The life of the Spirit within us, groaning of creation, nothing can separate us from God's love in Christ Jesus) 1 Corinthians 12 (Spiritual gifts, diversity of the body of Christ) 1 Corinthians 13 (Love) 1 Corinthians 15 (Our Physical Resurrection) 2 Corinthians 4 (Hard pressed but not crushed...) 2 Corinthians 5 (Ministry of Reconciliation, New Creation) 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (My grace is sufficient for you...) Galatians 3:26-29 (There is neither Jew nor Greek...) Ephesians 3:14-21 (Paul's prayer for the Ephesians) Ephesians 4:1-6 (One Lord, one faith, one baptism...) Ephesians 5:21-33 (Mutual Submission and the mystery of the Church) Philippians 2:1-11 (Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God...) Philippians 3:7-11 (What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.) Colossians 1:15-20 (He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation...) Hebrews 11 (Now faith is being sure of what we hope for... and here are a few examples...) Hebrews 12 (Consider Jesus... so you will not grow weary and lose heart) 1 John 3:11-24 (Love one another) Revelation 21-22 (New Jerusalem!)
There we are, I have probably forgotten some things but this is a good start. For clarification, this is not a list of my favorite scriptures (though many of them are), nor does it mean that I dislike parts that I have left off (though sometimes that is true). Instead, these are the passages I depend on again and again to tell the story of the Christian faith as I have come to understand it. I am anxious to hear from others about additions (or subtractions) to this list, what do you think of this little canon?
Many of us who read scripture and want to honor it as a special sort of text, a text somehow set apart from all others, spend a great deal of time discerning how we should read such a text. As a result, we come to scripture with expectations about what scripture is and what it should do to us or for us. Put another way: we confess that scripture is the word of God before we ever sit down and read it.
Yet it seems to me that this confession should come after we have read. We should read our bibles the way we would read any other book, with questions and curiosity, eager to find some pattern of words that truthfully names reality and excites our thought. Because it is only as we take our bible down from its own secluded shelf and place it among The Republic, and Macbeth, and Brothers Karamazov , and the Collected Poems of Robert Frost that we begin to understand what a treasure it is. Just as the centurion crucified Jesus as another common criminal and only then recognized him as the Son of God, so we read the bible as another common text and only then recognize it as the word of God.
And yet it seems to me that writing, far from being an obstacle to perfection in my own life, has become one of the conditions on which my perfection will depend.
- Thomas Merton
...every time I overcome these fears and trust not only my own unique way of being in the world, but also my ability to give words to it, I experience a deep spiritual satisfaction. . . . What I am gradually discovering is that in the writing I come in touch with the Spirit of God within me and experience how I am led to new places.