Full Metal Scripture

There was a soft knocking at my front door. I opened it and there stood a man, leaning against the jam. His right hand clutched his left side. It was very late at night.

“You gotta help me, doc.” His voice was a raspy whisper.

“What is it? What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I’ve been hit. I think it’s bad.”

I didn’t bother to ask him why he wasn’t at the local emergency room. He wasn’t the first law breaker to come here with with questionable wounds. Quickly, I ushered him to my examining room at the back of the house. I told him to take off his coat and lie back on the table while I washed up.

The lower part of his shirt was all bloody and had started to stick to his skin. I picked up some bandage scissors and began to gently cut the fabric away. Soon I could see the wound. It was immediately apparent what this man had been up to. Just barely protruding from his flesh was the number 4, a colon and then the number 16.

“Scripture dueling, eh?” It was a rhetorical question – the evidence spoke for itself.

“Yeah, doc….high stakes….we were…. fightin’….fightin’ over… the nature… of… God.” His breathing was ragged as he struggled to get the words out.

“For God’s sake man! When will you people learn? How many more must end up like you before this stops?” I was exasperated. I had seen too much suffering, too much anger, too much bloodshed on both sides. Sides that both claimed exclusive ownership of the truth. Taking a clamp I gingerly tried to work the verse out of his side. It was in deep.

Ouch! I was doin’-ouch!- okay. Got…off a couple a good ones. Thought I had him nailed when…dammit –ouch!… I shot a Jeremiah 13:14 right in his face. You know….the one that goes “And I will dash them one against another,…. even the fathers and the sons together, ….saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have…. mercy, but destroy …them” ? He suddenly began to cough violently.

“Yes I know it, of course. But context man, what about context?!” I lifted him up so he could drink from a cup of water. I gave him a strong sedative.

“Thanks. Yeah, yeah, you’re right. That’s what he said too. Right after he…blocked my shot with James 5:11. I was confused for a second….that’s when he hit me in the gut with 1 John 4:16. That was it. That was all she wrote.”

It wasn’t too long before he fell asleep and I was finally able to remove the scripture verse. It was dug in pretty good and he lost a fair amount of blood. It clanged loudly as I dropped it into the enamel bucket beside the table. Not bad work, I thought. He should be out of the woods by morning. Pouring myself a healthy slug of bourbon over ice I sat down to relax. Just then the phone rang.

“Doc? It’s Jackson down at the precinct. We’ve got a bad situation here and we need someone who has experience with verse extractions. Don’t bother denying it – everyone knows what you do. But this is real bad and we’re willing to overlook a couple of things. We need your help.”

“What happened? Why can’t the hospital handle this?”

“Doc, it’s a nightmare. It’s Jack van Impe. He’s gotten loose downtown and he’s spraying everything in sight with scripture verses. He’s like a .50 caliber verbal machine gun. He’s got his wife spotting for him and people are down all over the place. It’s mass confusion – a real mess. No one can make sense of all this.”

My God, I thought. Will this madness never end?


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  1. #1 by BuddyO on February 8, 2008 - 11:01 am

    “To limit human understanding of the divine to one book does a disservice to our quest for understanding.”

    Well said Robert. That is how I think the writings of others should be viewed, as a continuing conversation that stems from what God tells us in Scripture. I feel trouble starts when we rely on extra-biblical writing to interpret what God says in His text… it’s like a bad game of telephone… passing the message from person to person only ending up with a distortion in the end.

  2. #2 by Christian on February 8, 2008 - 11:39 am

    Well, (should I risk saying this?) Dickens was a pretty good writer. But he was a writer of fiction. He contrived a story from start to finish and made sure to include all the elements necessary to entertain the reader. And compared to scripture, his story took place over a very short time in history.

    But it still helps to understand what led up to as well as what the particulars were of the French Revolution. He assumed this knowledge on the part of his readers. I think that the Biblical writers did this as well but that assumption often falls short, particularly for the Gentiles.

  3. #3 by BuddyO on February 8, 2008 - 11:55 am

    Not a surprising answer…

    God’s an OK writer too, in my opinion anyways…

    There are 39 books of historical foundation before he begins the Gospels… Not enough?

    That being said… wouldn’t you agree that the Truths being conveyed in Gods Word are intended to transcend the historical setting in which the reader lives? Jesus’ teachings for example were as relevant yesterday as they are today and will be tomorrow.

  4. #4 by Christian on February 8, 2008 - 12:45 pm

    Absolutely. The idea that Biblical truth transcends the historical surroundings is crucial. And I think God is a beautiful writer, just sometimes he uses people with less talent. 🙂 I believe that scripture that was originally oral history, meant to be spoken in Hebrew, sometimes suffers, both in accuracy as well as aesthetically, when translated into other languages. So it helps to know a little bit about the language (which sadly I do not) and a little bit about the people and the times (which I am trying to do).

    For example, one of the hardest parables for me to understand has been that found in Luke 16: 1-8. None of the various expositions on this parable of the the dishonest steward has ever rung true to me.

    But when I learned about the system in place in Palestine at the time, in which landowners would buy up the land of others by paying their taxes and from that point on take excessive profits from the work of these indentured servants, then it made sense that Jesus would hold up a ‘dishonest’ person as an example to be followed. The landowner was not a metaphor for God, he was part of an oppressive system. The ‘dishonest steward’ was working for God’s justice by cooking the books in the favor of those in bondage.

  5. #5 by Christian on February 8, 2008 - 10:08 pm

    Rob, I just realized that I had never linked to you. Sorry about that. Situation remedied.

  6. #6 by rogueminister on February 9, 2008 - 9:05 am

    I havent commented in a while because China has wordpress blocked but my wife and I are in Thailand at the moment so I thought I would let you know I use an anonymizer program so I still get to read the blog, and I love it as much as ever. Thanks for writing, it makes the cold days in China a little warmer. Wow that sounded cheesy, but I guess that sorta thing is allowed in the blogosphere.

  7. #7 by Christian on February 9, 2008 - 1:07 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement. More cheese, please. 🙂

    Thailand and China, eh? I hope we will hear more about this. Isn’t the internet great? Totalitarians must be so annoyed with it.

  8. #8 by 1poet4man on February 9, 2008 - 11:55 pm

    …simply brilliant…

  9. #9 by logiopath on February 10, 2008 - 1:14 am

    Jack van Impe is a nightmare.

  10. #10 by logiopath on February 10, 2008 - 1:15 am

    Who is more silly? Gene Scott or Jack van Impe?

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