The Black Magic Marker

Once upon a time there was a guy who, when faced with difficult passages in letters from the Apostle Paul, would say, “Get out your black magic marker and cover over this passage.”

He was joking, of course. As a sort of fundamentalist, he wouldn’t advocate modifying scripture. But he was serious in the sense we all are when we read something in biblical writing with which we disagree. Rather than say “I don’t know” like I mentioned yesterday, we  choose to ignore it. Treat it as if it were non-existent.

At university and for many years following, I disliked the writings of Paul. He was anti-female, anti-gay, anti-sex. He was used by Christian preachers in southern US from before the Revolution to justify slavery. At a time when many of us were upset with the promoted racism and war of our government, he had written Romans 13 about supporting your government (something today’s American fundamentalists also ignore).

One day I said to myself, I don’t know. I took a deep dive into scholarship around his letters gaining some respect and insight into his thought.

It is OK to disagree. Even among ourselves. If we use that as a starting point for “I don’t know” and open ourselves up to deeper revelations.

I’ll leave you with this thought.

We are probably all familiar with the Shema, the Hebrew prayer from Deuteronomy 6:4. Jesus quotes it a couple of times—the part about you shall love the lord your God… NT Wright’s study of Paul pointed out what he calls Paul’s Shema. Meditating on this has led to new insights for me:

One God, the Father, from whom all things, and we (belong) to him.

And one Lord, Jesus Messiah, through whom all things, and we (live) through him.

1 Cor 8:6

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