Saturday, November 5, 2011

Random Bible Verse of the Day - James

The book of James is, I guess
you could say... "shocking"
James is a short and to-the-point Book: it is basically a set of what are supposed to be timeless instructions on how to be a good person.  It is clear that it aspires to be, for non-fundamentalist Christians, what they can point to in order to show how much more progressive they are than those un-sophisticated fundamentalists.

Indeed, it has a couple verses that I would consider good advice:
(James 1:19) ...Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry.
(James 2:1) My brothers, as a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, you must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance.
(James 2: 15-16) Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat.  What good is there in your saying to them, "God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!" -- if you don't' give them the necessities of life?
Show restraint, be tolerant of others, help those less fortunate.  These are all good lessons.  Of course, the Bible's lack of divinity doesn't rule out the espousal of values that actually foster a desirable society.  The Bible isn't completely worthless; so it has that going for it, which is nice.

Don't be fooled though, James isn't a complete liberal hippy doofus. He does have a little fire and brimstone in his loins:

Oh don't grovel! One thing I can't
stand is people groveling!
(James 4:8-10) Come near to God, and he will come near to you.  Wash your hand, you sinners!  Purify your hearts, you hypocrites!  Be sorrowful, cry, and weep; change your laughter into crying, your joy into gloom!  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Well, this 'God' fellow sounds like a guy I'd like to hang out with.
(James 1:5) But if any of you  lacks wisdom, he should pray to God, who will give it to him; because God gives generously and graciously to all.  But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all.  Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind.

This is kind of ironic from an atheist's point of view.  Prayer has been shown to be ineffective, so lacking any additional wisdom, the believer might assume their intellectual stasis is due to some underlying doubt, thus causing them to further convince himself of his faith in God.  But if he ever came to realize that prayer is ineffective, would he attribute it to wisdom imparted by God in reward for his lack of doubt?  

But the point is that doubt is bad; don't think too hard.  That only leads to atheism.
(James 4:11)  Do not criticize one another, my brothers.  Whoever citiizes a Christian brother or judges him, criticizes the Law and judges it.  If you judge the Law, then you are no longer one who obeys the Law, but one who judges it.
I think this theme is coming through loud and clear.  This must be where Christians (especially the politicians they elect) get their sense of entitlement to do whatever the fuck they want with impunity.  If its  God's will then, it must be done, of course.  And who better to determine God's will than a Christian!

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