This text from 1 Kings that we read this morning is a complete disaster. It’s just awful.
Ahab wants to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard, and when Naboth refuses him, a chain of events is put in motion that ends with Naboth being unjustly taken to court and stoned to death.
It’s just blood-curdling, how could anyone read this and call it Holy Scripture?
Well, I’m glad you brought it up. This is exactly what we should be reading in Holy Scripture.
Sometimes we as progressive Christians have a tendency to shy away from the more bloodthirsty parts of the Bible because they seem so far from our understanding of a loving, generous God.
But that is the wrong approach, and this is where how we view the scriptures becomes critically important.
In the Episcopal Church, we believe that the Bible was inspired by God, but the Bible was not written by God. It was written by human beings, and human beings make mistakes.
Our Christian brothers and sisters who believe the Bible is inerrant, who insist that every word of the Bible is literally true without error—and without contradiction, which is patently false—I believe that they run the risk of worshipping the Bible rather than worshipping God.
But notice that our story today, for all its bloodthirstiness, is not attributing these characteristics to God.
This is the reason why we need to be Biblically literate about the Old Testament and not throw it away with big generalizations like “it portrays an angry God and I don’t believe in an angry God.”
This story shows what terrible, awful mistakes and sins human beings can make, how badly they can manage themselves and their affairs when they are consumed by greed and power.
What better text could we have to speak to us right now? Continue reading