I’ve spent most of the first week and a half of the New Year discussing, debating and dialoguing with Christians and non-Christians about the Kim Burrell controversy. At this point, anyone who follows my social media activity knows where I stand on this issue - right by Kim Burrell as my sister in Christ, and boldly on the truth of God’s Word.
Certainly, not many outside the Church agree with my take on this ordeal. But one of the most interesting responses I’ve gotten regarding my stance came from a young lady who basically told me that: Christians need to stop following the Bible because it is “corrupt” and "out of touch" with the times. Instead, we should focus on the teachings of Jesus Christ and learn to love everybody.
I'm sorry...what the wheh?
Didn't she know that Jesus' teachings are ONLY IN THE BIBLE, the book she JUST said was "out of touch" and "corrupt"?
With my head nearing implosion, I lovingly showed the young lady the irony in her argument, and then I respectfully bowed out of the conversation. Goodness! It was just tew murch!
I couldn't conceive how someone could argue with such passion and conviction a point based on such a blatant contradiction! And that’s the funny thing about people who hate God’s Word and refuse to accept it as the absolute truth. They instead choose to lean on their own understanding and, as such, they tend to be left spewing out random thoughts that are not only inconsistent, but incoherent. The good news though, is her statements appear in the comments section of some obscure Instagram post. And once she understands the error in her reasoning, she can return to delete her comments (I sure hope she does), so most of America won't likely ever see them.
But Huffington Post Religion contributor, Keith Augustus Burton, isn’t so fortunate. His convoluted thoughts on the Bible were recently published by the Huffington Post - a major news source and blog network - for the entire world to see!
At first glance, one could assume the headline was meant to provoke offense only to lure readers in to teach a lesson on why modern American society actually DOES NEED the Bible. (Hey! It’s a tactic I’ve employed with some of my own headlines - “offend to defend”, is what I call it).
But, nope! Burton meant EXACTLY what he said: "The Bible has no place in modern American society," and he goes on to specify why he believes this notion to be valid and true.
I strongly encourage all to go and read his post for yourselves. But for the sake of my argument, it helps me to summarize his points here, and they are as follows:
Point 1: The Bible is a Relic of a Superstitious Past
His argument: Presidents only use the Bible for ceremonial/ritualistic purposes (e.g. “swearing in the oath of office”) - they never have intentions to follow it.
Point 2: The Bible is a Convenient Political Prop
His argument: Politicians only use the Bible to appeal to those gullible enough to believe in the “myth of a ‘Christian’ America”. He also notes that such individuals are actually hypocrites because they neglected the Bible’s teaching to “love thy neighbor” and other key Christian principles when they voted for Donald Trump.
Point 3: The Bible is an Obstacle to American Freedom
His argument: The Bible promotes bigotry and discrimination that prevents “American values” chief among them are the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
He says, “It is a dangerous book that—although protected by free speech—must be delegitimized…” because it is what led Kim Burrell to call homosexuality “sinful” and “perverted”. He goes on to list other behaviors society has adopted as normal/mainstream that the Bible also identifies as "sins".
Point 4: The Bible informs “Personal” Beliefs and Behavior
His argument: (This one is all over the place, but here goes...) “Biblical religion” - like all religions - influences one’s beliefs which is supposed to influence their “personal” behavior. We live in a society that cherishes religious freedom, so we can’t be surprised when our beliefs clash with others. In essence, we are all ideological ‘bigots’ - Ellen, Pharrell and Janelle Monae’s response to Kim Burrell's sermon proves this. Burton argues they are just as much a “bigot” as Kim Burrell because they missed the opportunity to “experience the true message of an ancient book that is so offensive to modern society: “If you truly love God, you must also love your neighbor even as you love yourself.”
Okay, now that I’ve offered an overview of Burton’s points and individual arguments, allow me to offer the essence what he's saying in his overall piece:
People who believe the Bible are hypocrites because they don't do the good things the Bible teaches because the Bible teaches bad, offensive and dangerous things like discrimination, but not really because its ultimate and "true message" is to teach all that to “Love God, you must also love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Yep! I think that’s a pretty clear argument.
NOT! (Good grief! SMH!)
Y'all, this piece is riddled with so many follies and ironies that my eyes are squinting. I initially intended to just leave it alone, but I couldn't just bow out. I have soooo many questions?!
The Folly in Burton's Analysis
If Burton knows Trump doesn't behave in a "Christ-like" manner, makes a point to highlight how past politicians disregard the Bible as nothing more than a prop, and he basically calls Trump’s evangelical base hypocrites for ignoring the Bible’s teachings, how then is it the Bible that's the problem?
He attempts to make a case for why Scripture needs to be delegitimized, but he inadvertently reveals the entire issue is NOT with God's Word, but with the hearts of mankind. If the Bible is mostly used as only a "prop", and if those who use it only cherry pick from it, wouldn’t that mean that most don’t actually LIVE by the Bible or fully accept it as truth? So, how is the Bible, which he says is “supposed” to shape one’s beliefs/values “dangerous” when MOST Americans don't even live by it?
The Folly in the Huffington Post's Paper Trail
The Huffington Post did a piece a few years ago that said while nearly 80% of Americans "love" the Bible, only 20% read it regularly. They also did a piece a couple of years back that said only 28% of Americans believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. Yet, they now feature a piece that says it is a "danger" to American society?
If MOST Americans aren't actually reading their Bibles, how can Burton, HuffPo Religion or anyone else trust that the understanding they or other Americans have of the Bible is accurate?
And if MOST Americans are not reading it, living by it, or truly understanding it, that means it is treated as irrelevant by the average citizen, so how is something "irrelevant" also a “threat"?
The Folly in Burton's Hypocrisy
Burton claims that the Bible is a threat because it has "bigoted and outdated teachings" that "have no place in our enlightened society." But he, then, also argues that, at the end of the day, EVERYONE in society in a bigot.
On top of that, his ENTIRE piece is pure bigotry by virtue of its existence. He wrote the piece to express his disagreement with the authority of the Bible as God's Word. He makes his claims against the Bible as directly as the Bible calls sin "sin". He is in strong opposition and holds an intolerant view of the Bible because he claims the Bible is in strong opposition and holds an intolerant view of "American values".
The Folly in Misunderstanding Biblical Values
And what are those "American values"? According to Burton, they include the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", and he says the Bible impedes all of that.
But for a man who makes such bold claims against this text, it is evident he's never truly read it to understand it. The Bible does not impede on our right to LIFE, LIBERTY or the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. In fact, it FULLY supports it...
The Bible on Life: The Bible teaches us that we are in bondage to sin and death, yet God wants to give us LIFE in Jesus Christ.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have LIFE, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, emphasis mine)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting LIFE. (John 3:16, emphasis mine)
The Bible on Liberty: The Bible teaches that if we let go of sin and come to God through the truth of Jesus Christ, which is revealed in His Word (the Bible), we ARE free indeed and by this have true LIBERTY.
"Stand fast therefore in the LIBERTY by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1, emphasis mine).
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you FREE” (John 8:31-32, emphasis mine).
The Bible on the Pursuit of Happiness: The Bible teaches us that God created us and desires that we not merely pursue HAPPINESS, but that we HAVE HOPE and MERRIMENT and JOY in Him, as sin profits us nothing. And a nation CAN be blessed to know TRUE JOY and PROSPERITY in the Lord if its people choose to know the Lord, Who is revealed to us clearly through His Word.
“So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 8:15).
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
“The hope of the righteous will be gladness, But the expectation of the wicked will perish” (Proverbs 10:28). (And if this verse offends you, it's likely because you identify as "wicked". Why?)
“You have multiplied the nation And increased its joy; They rejoice before You According to the joy of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil” (Isaiah 9:3).
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3, emphasis mine).
The Folly in Substituting Opinion for Absolute Truth
As much as Burton and others who hate the Bible seek to vilify God’s Word and count it a threat to modern American society, it is actually sin that is our greatest threat - it is sin that is the danger - it is America's love affair and marriage to her sins that need to be delegitimized. God's Word (the Bible) seeks to guide us to the truth of God and who we are to Him and how we are to relate to Him and one another. Yet many, instead, choose to hold tight to their sins - they opt for the wickedness in their hearts and their own self-righteousness. And that's why one who reads the Bible might experience the “cognitive dissonance” Burton mentions in his opening. (BTW: Cognitive dissonance is nothing but "conviction". It is God's grace to help us reconcile what's ultimately right and true, to choose repentance, and to walk in accordance with the truth rather than a lie.) And if you ignore the pull of "cognitive dissonance" to do what is right according to God's Word, that’s where a strong warning and rebuke, akin to what Kim Burrell shared at church, comes into play. The audacity of Burrell to call darkness into the light is, indeed, offensive if it is one's desire to remain in darkness. That's not discrimination, bigotry or hate - that's God's love and grace attempting to snatch you out of error and death!
Burton also disqualifies the Bible as the final authority on truth, but willingly grants that absolute authority to the Supreme Court and the American Constitution.
According to Burton, the Bible's categorization of homosexuality and same-sex marriage "is definitely out of sync with twenty-first century American mores, when even the Supreme Court agrees that marriage should not be defined by gender."
Burton, who is a Black man, was once deemed 3/5ths of a person by the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION. But he trusts it, and the Supreme Court's interpretation of it, over the Bible? There is NOTHING in the Bible that reduces a human being down to a fraction of a person, NOR does it support the evil, oppressive institution of slavery that Burton’s and my Black ancestors endured in America and her territories. It wasn't the Bible that commissioned racism, the slavery of African-Americans, or any other social ill we may currently or have historically endured. It was those pesky politicians and other hypocrites Burton mentioned - those who used the Bible as a prop for political gain and who cherry-picked and twisted scriptures to achieve their desired social and economic purposes. And they did this because they were evil and had not actually studied and been transformed by the truth revealed in God's Word.
I SAID ALL OF THIS TO SAY...
I don’t doubt there are many who read Burton’s piece and walked away feeling justified in remaining in their error and confusion. But I find it ironic that a body of individuals who perceive themselves as “enlightened” are so terribly blind and don't even know it. I find it ironic that a piece with a headline that makes such a bold, absolute statement leaves reasonable readers with more questions than answers. I find it ironic that Burton says the Bible teaches "discrimination" while also calling professed Bible believers hypocrites when they don't live by the unity the Bible teaches. And I find it extremely ironic that after laying out four reasons the Bible is a "dangerous", "irrelevant" and "ancient text" in our "enlightened" and "modern" society, Burton concludes his piece with admitting that Ellen, Pharrell and Janelle Monae's response to Kim Burrell was a missed the opportunity to apply the Bible's "true message" which leads him to close with an iteration of Matthew 22:37-40:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
But it's the BIBLE that's the problem? Oh. Okayden.
God bless his heart.