Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sanatizing the Bible Part II

Once is a mistake.  Twice is iffy.  Three times is a trend.  Four times...we've got issues.  Major issues, with the Revised Common Lectionary.   There is a definite trend in the types of Biblical passages being omitted by those selecting texts.  Your's truly is putting those omissions back into the readings since we print our own bulletins.

For the sake of record, I am going to begin posting blatant omissions from the Revised Common Lectionary.  I did so a while ago, and I am going to do so in the future to see if there is a pattern in what is omitted from the suggested texts.

On June 16th, the Old Testament suggested lesson is 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10; 13-15.  The omitted portion will be included in bold italics:

26 When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. 27When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, 1and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had very many flocks and herds; 3but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. 4Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’ 5Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’
7 Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.’ 13David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan said to David, ‘Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.’ 15Then Nathan went to his house.

For June 30: the omitted portion is bold italics once again:

 1 Kings 19: 15-21

15Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. 17Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. 18Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’ 19 So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was ploughing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. 20He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, ‘Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’ Then Elijah said to him, ‘Go back again; for what have I done to you?’ 21He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

For July 7th: the omitted portion is bold italic again.  This portion is omitted in the ELCA and WELS suggested texts:

Luke 10: 1-20

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11“Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” 12I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. 13 ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But at the judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven?   No, you will be brought down to Hades.  16 ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’ 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ 18He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

I raised the warning on such sanitizing a few months ago.  There seems to be an intentional omission of texts which refer to God's anger and actions against those who cross Him--even omitting what Jesus says.  Is it any wonder people ignore the idea that Luther put forth in his small catechism 500 years ago while explaining the 10 Commandments, "We are to fear and love God..."

Since God's strong judgement is omitted, many have gotten this wonderful idea God is simply love with no judgement.  The folks at the RCL are doing people in the pews no favors by omitting these texts and "sanitizing" the Bible.


Eric Ash said...

You may want to consider using another lectionary. I believe Lutheran CORE is looking at using the LCMS lectionary. Then you can still easily get orthodox commentaries, bulletins, etc.

Kevin Haug said...

Thank you for the suggestion, Eric. Just to let you know what my practice is: I use the Thrivent desk calendar when looking at the appointed Biblical texts for a given Sunday; therefore I see the appointed ELCA, LCMS, and WELS texts. Generally, there is not too much variation; however, when there is, I take careful note. I try to see which set of texts seems to be more faithful to the day. Then, I pick. Of course, if I am led to pick the ELCA texts, then I print the omitted text in the bulletin--that's a great benefit of printing out your own bulletin instead of relying on inserts. I do not seek to sanitize the Bible in my own congregation and only omit verses when they are only offering background information--like all the rivers in Genesis 2.

Pastor Brian Gigee said...

Or you can do what I did... suspend the lectionary from end of August to Transfiguration Sunday and read the NT chronologically (about 17 pages per week) for 26 weeks with a focus text for each Sunday. That text was used for preaching and Adult ED (actually JR HI - Adult Ed). We built around that passage with complimentary texts and tried to stay as faithful to the seasons of the liturgical calendar. We've given up not using the lectionary for Lent, now!

Kevin Haug said...

Hey Brian, I've done something similar to that before too. A few Lents ago, I scrapped the lectionary and did the passion narrative. Amazing the amount of depth that tends to get passed up by trying to do Palm/Passion Sunday. During that sermon series, I became painfully aware of many things I hadn't preached on during my time serving. The lectionary has its strengths, but I think we fool ourselves by thinking it covers everything. :-)