The Gospel of the Magic Book

Magic book (from deviantart)

A good friend gave me a link on Facebook for this article, written by Peter Bradford Martin. I know it is going to upset many, and that is precisely why I have decided to republish it here. It is, of course, merely about American version of evangelicalism, which is really a hybris. Thank goodness, there is much more common sense in third world evangelicalism

I post it here mostly because I agree, to a large extent with the author. That is why I describe myself often as a (post)conservative/(post)evangelical. Here it is:

* * *

The true gospel of contemporary evangelical Christianity is the gospel of the Magic Book.  

Evangelicals say they preach Christ, who is a person.  But as they say this, they hand you the Holy Handbook, God’s owner’s manual for life.  Just as you thought the substance of the Christian religion was actually a person, they caution you severely that God is content to relegate to The Book active authority on earth for literally everything that might matter to a human being.  Good news! they say.  Any question you have regarding how to live, what to think, what to do, what’s real, and what’s not—it’s in The Book.

In other words, the gospel—which for the first Christians had to do with the life, death, and resurrection of a particular man, and how that altered the way they saw God and the world—has become supplanted by a collection of propositional statements of incontrovertible fact, which, we are assured, comprise the complete, perfect verbal instruction for all humankind from the mouth of Almighty God.

The “good news” becomes the following: before, you were lost in Ignorance, but thanks to The Book, now you know God himself, as well as right & wrong.  It is thus a purely Gnostic (knowledge-based) gospel: we are privy to secret doctrines, secret knowing, because we possess the sacred scrolls.  Jesus is, for all practical purposes, not a person, but a constellation of doctrines to be read and understood, and at that, only a smaller part of a much larger constellation of descriptive facts about all reality, physical, spiritual, ethical.

And so it is in contemporary evangelical culture, when one encounters a problem, a crisis, a dilemma, one is counseled to ask, “What does the Bible have to say about that?”  The Book is, of course, a ouija board which can answer any lack of insight like a shaken magic cue ball.  The “Biblical perspective” on any matter is considered to be the final, true, and authoritative perspective.  If you are in darkness, it is because you don’t know the way.  Consult the Book!

Imagine the strength, the certainty, the support!  Who wouldn’t want an owner’s manual for life?  This is “good news” indeed.

Problem is, it’s a self-defeating gospel.  The texts themselves declare that the “Word of God” is not a book but a Person, a personality, a historical flesh-and-blood man who lived, preached, died, compellingly lived again. “God’s Word” is not a collection of texts (this is according to those texts, not according to me) but rather is the God-man himself, the divine and inexpressible Logos, embodied.

Read HERE the entire article.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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