This is in regard to recent letters regarding looking to the Bible, (as well we should) for answers to current social and moral issues. This letter is a sincere effort to continue the discussion.
Shakespeare, (in the Merchant of Venice) wrote: "The devil can cite Scripture to his own purposes." To "cherry pick" allows me and anyone to hide behind passages that support personal bias or prejudice.
We've seen scripture used to defend everything from slavery, to the hatred of Jews, segregation, denying women the right to equality and the right to vote, to mention only a very few of the violations and abuses against women, children, minorities, those of other faiths, etc.
Leonard Pitts, a writer for a St. Louis newspaper says it well in an article sub-titled, "Hiding behind a holy book to excuse biases that have nothing to do with God." In this article, he states, "How convenient it must be to lay your own narrowness and smallness of God." He further asserts that we shouldn't go to the Bible to "hide" but also "to seek."
Along with providing answers many passages of scripture bring questions. There is much in the Bible that is not read on Sunday. Citing only a small example, I have never heard Psalm 137 read in its entirety. Regardless of linguistic gymnastics that theologians chose to justify the last verse: "Happy those who seize your children and dash them against a rock," it is not exactly "pro-life".
Revelations of past decades indicate that it is also possible to flagrantly disregard inconvenient passages. This would seem to be evident in the case with the hierarchy of a major institution who, through countless degrades, facilitated a worldwide holocaust of innocents in the "Soul Murder" of children.
Apparently, the words of Jesus, in Matthew's Gospel were not relevant. "Who ever scandalizes one of these little ones, it were better that a millstone be hung around his neck and he be drowned in the depths of the sea." In spite of all the great accomplishments in health care, education etc., protecting the power and sovereignty of the institution trumped scripture in this case.
John Cardinal Newman has been quoted as saying: "There is more faith in honest doubt than in a thousand Credos unthinkingly spoken." Let's not just "hide" but also "seek."
In conclusion, the words of Lord Acton seem appropriate for today's world: "Power corrupts and absolutely power corrupts absolutely." This applies to all major institutions, whether their power is vested in political, financial, corporate or religious.