The bible’s a funny book Mark.
Go away God! I don't find it amusing when you say things like that. The moment I let you open up on stuff like that it’s me that gets in the gun. In the old days they’d burn you at the stake for disagreeing with their perspective on the bible.
These days they blithely call you a heretic and start ranting to others that you’re deceived, evil blah blah blah. So go away please God I don’t want to know – “the bible’s a funny book”. I mean seriously!!
But I do want to talk about this.
God!! NO!!! I don’t want this discussion.
I just told you.
Actually Mark, shall I explain something?
Well alright, obviously you’re going to anyway. So be my guest.
I won’t if you don’t want Mark.
Oh whatever God. Go for it. Spill the beans.
If you’re sure.
Ok. This is from the one who sees the heart. I know the real reasons you do things.
But I’m always gentle about what I expose Mark. The real reason you don’t like me talking about things that challenge popular Christian teaching is not the controversy it causes. Be honest, you love controversy, anything for a reaction.
You could have fooled me God, the constant accusations that I’m a heretic and deceived wear me down.
Actually they don’t, they invigorate you, they bring the problem out in the open, expose the attitudes that Religion has slipped unnoticed into organised Christianity. Once seen you can attack and decimate them, you like that Mark. You’ve sworn an oath before me to destroy Religion, to make him cower. You know that. I know that.
Ok. Alright I admit it. So if that’s not the reason then tell me what is? Why don’t I like you dropping stuff like that on me? Because God one thing’s for sure, I don’t. I do not like it when you drop subjects on me like “The bible’s a funny book.” That just doesn’t sound like you God.
Exactly and there lies the problem. It’s not what others think, it’s what you think Mark. This whole idea, conversation like this with me, defies everything you’ve ever been taught about God, Jesus, Christianity, heaven and hell. It’s not everyone else’s religion that you’re worried about, it’s your own. You are still, after all these years and three books about it, still uncomfortable about this idea of talking back and forth with me.
Well God it’s so weird, you have to admit that! It’s not just the naysayers this sounds weird to, it sounds weird to me too!!
Alright good. Now you’re being honest. No it’s not weird at all Mark, just not taught. Not known. Unfamiliar. Like a toddler learning to walk. Something in that child tells them they were born for this, that walking is just the beginning of what they were born for – but something else screams “be careful you might fall.” When we speak like this your problem is you’re hearing the “be careful you might fall” voice.
So Mark shall we continue? I want to talk about the bible, it’s a funny book.
Do I have a choice?
Not really God. Not if I don’t want to upset you.
Mark I’m very difficult to upset. If your kids won’t talk about what you want to, how upset are you really?
Well sometimes, quite a lot. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but sometimes I get a bit shitty when they don’t want to talk about what I want to.
Exactly again Mark, but me, I’m not like that. I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I don’t get…
NO! Don’t say that word God. If I write that word as coming out of your mouth I’ll get excommunicated.
No you won’t. You’re not ‘communicated’ to anything anyway Mark, but you’d be surprised how hungry people are for the God that speaks like them, the God who’s not prissy, not a prude. The real God. Humans are screaming out for the real God, and religious people like you are putting them off.
Religious?? Man God that’s a bit blimmen hurtful.
Well Mark you are. The reason you don’t like me startling you with conversations about the bible being a funny book, or the racial strife between Pakeha and Maori, is that those subjects challenge your real perspective on me. You’re nailed hard to that god you think crucified his own son in your place. That god who’s focused on your sin, focused on getting you ‘pure’ to keep you out of hell.
Yes I knew you would crucify my son, but no I didn’t crucify him, didn’t need to punish someone. Yes I used the cross to defeat your enemy but not in the way you think I did. If you all listened to me instead of spending your lives telling me, you’d understand Mark.
Man God, you just stir this stuff up on purpose don’t you (smiling). If it was someone else you were talking to I’d laugh, think it funny, but somehow it’s not when you talk to me.
Yes it is. Very funny. You’re wanting to laugh right now. You love that I’m a God with a brain, a God who doesn’t buy Religion’s lies.
Ok fine. That’s what I love. Are you going to talk about why the bible’s a funny book or not??
I’ll take that as permission (smiling).
You said you were smiling?
Of course. You’re created in my image. You smile, which means I do too.
Ok, carry on God.
Mark the bible’s a funny book.
Alright I’ll humour you God, why is the bible a funny book?
Because it’s true, yet what so many people think it says is a lie. Because it’s not a riddle, the truth is there in plain sight, but it’s presented as though it was a riddle. Some things are not fully stated, others are stated in one way, and then later in the opposite.
Alright, ok God. Give me some examples. But before you do, you know this is a problem right? People think the bible is sacred, almost as though they think the pages themselves are somehow holy or something, so writing down these words of yours will have them up in arms.
As we’ve already discussed Mark, that’s not your problem so drop it. Your problem is that you yourself are incredulous that I’d say such a thing about the bible. It challenges your thinking.
Alright true God.
And Mark that’s the devil’s trick. He makes you think of the bible as some sacred document, a book to be careful of, a book to tread gently around, a book that can be offended in some mystic way. He lies. The bible is a bunch of stories about people and the way they spoke to me and I spoke back. Me. God. Not some lofty God, but me. Jesus. I’m the one who turned up the illegitimate child of a girl from Nazereth, the wrong side of the tracks. I’m not prissy, not precious, I invented the birth process, the bloody mess that leads to life. I’m a realist Mark. I have to be, I invented reality.
Your point God?
That the bible, if it really is documented history about humans and me, and it is, then it’s not to be treated religiously or carefully. It’s a book to be challenged and dug into.
Really. If I invite you to challenge me personally…
Isaiah 1:18: “Come let us reason together [‘yakach’: to decide, adjudge, prove, reprove]
If I invite you to reprove me, while I do the same to you, then obviously, without question I’m inviting you to do the same to the book that includes human’s words to me and mine back to them.
God that’s not how the bigwigs like to think of the bible. They don’t call it “human’s words to you and yours back to them.” They say in hallowed tones that it’s ‘your word’. Obviously saying it that way makes them sound important to themselves.
Mark they’re not alone. You like to sound important to yourself too.
Smiling. Ok true God. Point taken.
Mark the bible is not ‘my word’, it contains some of my words. Comparatively very few given that the heavens pour forth speech. I speak more words in a single day, every day Mark, than those recorded in the bible.
Oh no. You didn’t just say that God!!
I did Mark. Get over yourself. The bible isn’t ‘my word’, it’s some of my words along with a lot of human history. My ‘word’ is Jesus. My ‘words’ are the words that proceed from my mouth. Some of which are recorded in the bible, most of which are not.
Oh dear dear dear dear dear!
Yes. The problem is serious.
That’s not what I meant God!! You know that.
Yes. Just being clever Mark. Shall we continue?
You’re going to anyway, so yes let me have it, both barrels.
Ok Mark here’s the point. This conversation is just the introduction. The bible is a funny book. What you think it means it doesn’t. You think it’s incredibly important for religious reasons. You’re wrong. It’s important, actually far more important than any of you realises, but for reasons you don’t even understand. The bible contains truths, just inside the door of the book, that none of you ever get to. You’re too busy dissecting the passages in the door way of the book to get any further.
Whatever happened to the idea that listening to me led you to things you’d never heard before Mark? You’re all so busy trying to hear, and hear again all the things you already know. And yet you don’t know those things at all. Ask your friends who’ve given their lives to studying the bible, people like Mark Virkler, or Charity, or Baxter Kruger, Mark Keown, Bryden Black or Geoff Woodcock, they’ll tell you that the more one learns about the bible, the more one learns that you know almost nothing.
Even those popular passages, the ones you’re all fixated on, are largely misunderstood by almost all of Christendom. Including you. Especially including you.
You said that last bit God. Especially including me?
Of course. When you decide like you have to spend your life listening to me you quickly discover that actually you know nothing. Or like your great buddy Geoff Hill says, “you don’t know what you don’t know”.
Ok. As usual God, you start out talking about something simple – “the bible’s a funny book”, and suddenly we’re all over the blimmen planet of truth.
Stick with me Mark we’re going somewhere. The bible’s a funny book - it’s not about what you all think it’s about.
Oh lovely God.
Mark steady on… remember “Call to me and I will show you things you know nothing about.”
Ok, so explain why it’s a funny book God.
Two very simple examples Mark. We’ve talked about them both before but in a different context. But I’ll stick with them to make this easy for you. First is the Abraham story. People, well-meaning people, make the ridiculous assumption that the number of times I spoke to Abraham in the bible is the total number of times I spoke to Abraham. Honestly? You Christians need to recognise the bible is a brainy book and can’t be understood unless you use your brains when you read it. What have I told you about that topic Mark?
That the times you spoke to Abraham recorded in the bible, are simply the ones recorded in the bible?
Yes. That’s my point. You Christians make ridiculous assumptions about the bible, you included. You read something and you decide what it means and then deify what you think. You forget to ask me, you don’t know how because you think I’m confined to having to speak through scripture. Of course I speak through scripture. But Mark, sorry to offend you, I speak through Beatles songs and Harry Potter Novels too. I’ll speak through whatever I have to, I’m not precious remember.
What about you Mark? Can you only talk to your kids by txt, or are you happy to phone them, skype them and even just sit and talk with them?
Mark my second point, another bible story, is this. The bible makes it clear that arch angels, when speaking to the devil, in one situation at least, rather than rebuke him direct, called on me to rebuke him.
And yet in another passage the bible makes it clear that archangels wrestle with the prince of darkness themselves, with no mention of deferring the battle to me.
It’s a funny book Mark. It says one thing, and then another. You can’t build a doctrine on a passage. Why am I telling you this?
Because we need to listen to you speak direct to our spirits to explain what the bible does and doesn’t mean.
Exactly. How long before I can speak with you like friends, and not my religious servants? I spilled a lot of blood for the right Mark, as did the prophets. Will this be the generation that learns at last to hear me speak direct?
My marriage came crashing down and me with it. The devastation began sinking in and me with it. Nothing I knew was the same anymore. It was horrible and I was terrified. I threw my pride to the wind and screamed (literally) to God.