Did you ever notice how often religion tries to convince us that we are stupid? They don’t come right out and say it overtly. Rather, they tell us that we can’t understand spiritual truths without their help. We can read the Bible, but we need the assistance of religious authorities lest we misinterpret biblical truths. We can pray, but we need help interpreting what the spirit has to say to us.
Am I the only one who finds this a little strange? If we have the reading level needed to read the current best seller, why would we misunderstand the Bible? Is God a bad writer? If I understand the language well enough to engage in a conversation with a person I meet on the street, why can’t I understand the Spirit? Does God have a speech disorder? Does God lack a vocabulary large enough to communicate effectively? Or is there another reason for all of this help that religion seems to think we need?
It’s certainly true that a rudimentary understanding of spirituality is needed to understand the context of scripture, but a couple of visits to almost any church on Christmas and Easter will do just fine in providing that context. Occasionally conversing with others investigating scripture will serve to ensure our interpretation isn’t too far out in deep right field. So, what’s really behind religion’s insistence that they serve as interpreter of spiritual experience?
We all need to be needed, even on the institutional level. What’s more, if religion allows us to communicate with God directly, we might decide we don’t need a middle man after all. That would change the game profoundly, wouldn’t it? Instead of dispensing truth, clergy would become fellow travellers who engage in actual discussion.
More importantly, we would quickly come to understand that not only does God care enough about each of us well enough to communicate clearly and effectively with each of us, but also that we are bright enough to understand what is communicated to us! Gone are the days when we believed we were dependent on or inferior to anyone on the spiritual journey. Isn’t that good news?
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