I was first introduced to the term ‘Bible Basher’ as a child, going door-to-door with my pastor father. Even back then, the vast majority of doors were slammed in our face, often accompanied by swearing and use of this term. Perhaps it didn’t help that my dad always carried his leather-bound, gilt-edged, Scofield King James Bible under his arm.
I suppose this term, originated as a statement about a person who constantly uses the Bible to ‘bash’–hit–people over the head in a confrontational way. Today this is exemplified in our city by the infamous Rundle Mall street preachers who call down fire and brimstone every day with Bible in hand and signs that read ‘Turn or Burn.’
While I am at times ashamed of my past days as a Bible basher, I recognise that the motivation for doing so (like so many other deeds) was fear, shame, guilt, and a shallow understanding of the nature of God.
Richard Rohr says it so well:
When the Scriptures are used maturely, they proceed in this order:
- They confront us with a bigger picture than we are used to, “God’s kingdom” that has the potential to “deconstruct” our false and smaller kingdoms.
- They then have the power to convert us to an alternative worldview by proclamation, grace, and the sheer attraction of the good, the true, and the beautiful (not by shame, guilt, or fear which are low-level motivations, but which operate more quickly and so churches often resort to them).
- They then console us and bring deep healing as they “reconstruct” us in a new place with a new mind and heart.
(Adapted from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr, pp. 64-65)
May we choose to use the Holy Bible in a mature sensibility, to bring healing, restoration, compassion, justice and peace in our world as we find, in its words and message, God’s reign revealed.