In light of the current campaigning for the responsibility to serve as President of the United States, the excerpts below from a Sermon given by Reverend Nancy Bickel at First Congregational United Church of Christ, Dubuque, on February 7, 2010, seem poignant. Mother Nature would also benefit from this wisdom.
Our problems today do not correlate directly to the problems of society in ancient times. Those that approach the Bible as primarily a rule book that clearly spells out the directives for every step of their lives or as some distant, magical answer to life's dilemmas do the Bible a great disservice.
Then why are there so many Christians all around the world who take the Bible and bend it to shape their own prejudices and intolerance... Why are there so many Christians who take the Bible and use it to beat up others... God's Word is too often used as a bludgeon to wield power over others, particularly the powerless for who Christ had a preference. One of Shakespeare's characters says, "the devil quotes scriptures for his own purposes." We, at times, have all been guilty of rummaging around in the Bible until we find some verse, take it out of its context and use it to make a point about what we believe rather than discerning God's truth. By doing so, we take one of God's good gifts to us and use it to further our own selfish, grandiose schemes... Those that write letters to the editor or those who write columns for religion pages who quote obscure Old Testament texts and totally ignore the Gospel and rarely make mention of Jesus claim to speak for the religious community but they certainly do not. They portray a God that is totally alien to most of us and they have no use for a Jesus who spent a great deal of his time with those who were often on the fringes of society and had nothing but compassion for those who were poor... We all draw upon our own histories, education, experiences, and imagination in order to try and grasp the meaning of Biblical texts but we must always remember that Scriptures were written in the languages of the people who spoke and wrote them, people who genuinely wanted not to give us a road map that would tell us how to take every single step in life, but rather a compass that keeps pointing us in the right direction, towards a God who wants to be in communion with each one of us.
Some, however, would act as they have some secret or special knowledge of the Bible, of which others are sorely lacking. There are still false prophets whose sole authority is their own ego.