Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Danger of McScripture. Guest Blogger Bod Pederson

The Danger of McScripture

My wife and I recently watched a movie entitled “Supersize Me”, in which the subject of the film used himself as a guinea pig in an experiment to uncover the effects of McDonald’s food on the human body. His approach was to eat nothing but McDonald's food, three meals per day, every day for one month. The result was not only unhealthy and debilitating, but potentially fatal because it actually damaged his internal organs. Sound extreme? Well, what if we are doing the same to the body of Christ with a fast food diet of what I have come to call McScripture?

Good Old Fashioned Home Cooking
There was once a time when meals involved a great deal of work and preparation. Food was often grown or raised at home, and made from scratch with whole ingredients rich in nutrients, and tailored for our health by God Himself. Conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity we nearly nonexistent. An added benefit of dinner time was the richness of relationships enjoyed around the dinner table. In the same fashion, the food once dished out to the flock was (and still is in some churches) painstakingly prepared by stewards of the Word to grow the body of Christ by feeding it nutrient rich food. These men would labor long hours over the text, working through faithful exegesis from the original languages, and then searching the scriptures for connections into the bigger picture that God has revealed about Himself. They would cook up side dishes from the historical and cultural contexts, and for desert they would show us how Christ is displayed in every part of the scriptures. They would then, agendas laid aside, don the server's apron and serve God's children a meal made with love, having let the the Word and Spirit of God speak first into their hearts, and through their gifts and labors to their hearers.

Feeding the Flock Fast Food
Modern life (or should I say post-modern life) has pretty much spelled the end of family meals as many of us remember them. Driven by a relentless race for success and fulfillment, and coupled with an abundance of cheap, calorie rich and nutrient poor, fast and convenient food supply, we have become a society of mostly weak, sickly, overweight, and unhealthy consumers searching for the next quick fix to satisfy our ever increasing cravings. The result has been a barrage of artificial medical fixes to combat the flood of disease brought about by our poor diet. It has created a drain on our economy due to medical expenses and lost productivity. But it might serve as a reflection of American evangelicalism, and of the American church in the last two centuries. What I mean is this: at some point there was a fundamental shift from a spiritual diet that was home cooked to a fast food spiritual diet. Now we spend much of our time and energy trying to deal with the disease and chronic conditions that it has introduced into the Body.

What is Spiritual Fast Food?
Spiritual fast food (McScripture) is quite simply the quick and easy handling of biblical texts. Quick and easy to prepare (not to mention cheap), convenient to consume and digest, empty calories that satisfy immediate hunger, but severely lacking the nutrients that satisfy a body's need to be truly fed. Biblical lessons are all too often mass produced for mass consumption in mass media. Instead of being the product of hard study and honest exegesis to bring forth the inherent truth of the text, truth now comes ready to go and prepackaged in traditional understanding. I was shocked the first time that I heard texts , like Matthew 18, that are taken for granted by many, properly unpacked to reveal the actual meaning, instead of the meaning they had come to have. Instead of slow cooking the whole text in the context of the original language, the passage and the book, the Eastern understanding of a first century Greek or Jewish reader, and the whole of God's revelation of Himself, we toss it into the microwave and enter 3:16 so that we only have to punch in one number. We deep fry it in the natural understanding of a 21st Century, western, English speaking mind so that it comes out golden brown and delicious.

A Fast Food Culture
All of us have grabbed a bite to eat on the go. After all we have so much to do, so much to get. McScripture provides a twofold benefit to both the producer and the consumer. It saves both time and resources. For the man in the pulpit or the Christian writer it means no more laboring to become proficient in Greek and Hebrew; just point your cursor with the mouse and out pops the definition of the original word! No need to worry about things like meanings brought forth through parsing, morphology and grammar, its McScripture! No more are truths and ideas vetted by a thorough searching of Holy Writ, just find a few single verses that seem to mean what you want to say, then write your book and get invited to speak at conferences! No more tediously supporting your views with the greater truths of the Bible, because you would lose people and go over their heads anyway, right? It also meets the needs of the modern Christian consumer quite nicely as well. Need to get home for the football game? Just pull up to the window and say “I'll have a God's All About Me Value Meal”. You know, the one with the ten minute gospel sammich and the greasy grace on the side and a nice decision to wash it all down with. It even has a relationship with Jesus toy surprise inside! Quick, easy, and cheap. Then run off to live your life because after all, God just wants to stay out of the way of our hapiness, doesnt He?

A Fast Demise
I have to apologize for my sarcastic tone; I only adopt it to make a point about a serious condition. As a member of the SBC, I follow the news of its decline with increasing frustration and sadness as the leaders ask one another what to do while cramming cheeseburgers and fries in our mouths. They tell us that their methods just need some tweaking as they baptize unregenerate people, and then begin movements to disciple them. I admit that I am not characterizing a complicated situation completely accurately or fairly. I do not claim to have all the answers. I only seek to maybe offer al little insight into one facet of the picture. We desperately need to rely again on the Word of God. We need to let it speak to us again instead of using it to make our points for us. We need gifted men to devote their lives, minds, and resources to rightly bringing forth the riches of its truth instead of building huge churches and striving for celebrity. We need the Spirit of God to teach us again instead of popular Christian Gurus with the latest Church Growth Methods. We need to turn aside from corporate business models and psychological fixes thinly disguised as discipleship. We need to rediscover who Christ is, instead of who we have reinvented Him as. We need to recover the glorious Gospel of the Scripture which glorifies God and lays bare the depraved hearts of men. We need to stop loving our own wills, and worship Him as He is revealed to our hearts and minds by the Bible. For us to regain our health and vigor as a church, simply adding a few healthy elements to our fast food diet is not enough. We need a total, radical change of our eating and cooking habits to bring a radical change of our body. Maybe it's time for another Reformation. Maybe we should just return to the old one. Bon Apetite brothers and sisters!

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