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“First…I urge that…prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be made on behalf of kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life…”

 

A good, inoffensive, motto to post on your refrigerator door?

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Peace and harmony, yes! Hardly marching

orders from a troublemaker…

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But…for more use the DOOR.

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[MORE]

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   Modern Christians, if they still take the Bible seriously, tend to cherry-pick the parts they like and ignore the rest¹. First, they try to find and then try to apply information that agrees with their personal (usually unwritten) value system.

   And yes, I’m guilty of that, too.

   However, to take the Bible seriously one must consider the whole package. The words–the ones cited at the beginning (with some omitted) that were lifted from 1 Timothy 2:1-2–should be considered in their immediate as well as larger contexts which are (1) St. Paul’s first letter about a whole bunch of stuff to his convert and disciple Timothy, (2) the New Testament library, and (3) the Bible as a whole.

   Paul was a converted intellectual, a passionate missionary who was kicked out of worship places, beaten, even left for dead, jailed, run out of town for trouble-making, shipwrecked for taking risky trips for what he believed in and eventually–according to tradition–beheaded for what he believed in.

   That was not for what we quoted–with slight omissions–at the beginning. What sane person would disagree with that? There’s no call for violent rebellion (though one might be puzzled that Paul seems weak about leaders who condone slavery). But those words were a real part of his message, or philosophy if you prefer.

   Peace and tranquility don’t automatically occur if we only stop being unfair, personally act justly, without becoming realistic to what we are, what we want, how we think, and where we come from.

   That’s what the rest of the Bible helps us with.

   And if you think, by the quoted passage, that what Paul says harmonizes with the current (unspoken) fuzzy framework of many modern people from most religions, including atheistic belief systems, share, read all of Paul’s letter to Timothy. And see how out-of-step with “modern morality” Paul really was.

   But he did believe that working toward real peace, beginning at home, really mattered, but not for reasons most will offer today.

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   ¹ Cherry-picking for the “good stuff” and ignoring the “bad stuff” (according to one’s personal value system) is commonly done in many churches, even some very desirable ones. The best preaching and teaching, however, comes from applying what the Bible says, rightly interpreted, and not from how well it rides the rails of one’s self-determined personal value system. That’s very hard, by the way, for preachers and teachers to do. One further comment: Many more formal and liturgical churches that regularly read all, or many parts of, Scripture on a regular basis are doing a “good thing” to keep the whole Bible, as well as uncomfortable parts, in front of modern worshippers.

   That’s from my personal value system, by the way…