God’s word and the sausage factory

Monday Musings for March 11, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

The journalist and author Upton Sinclair used Chicago’s meatpacking industry as a foil in his famous novel The Jungle. Sinclair was a socialist… and he was aiming at America’s heart when he wrote this book. But instead, he hit its stomach. Our country passed the Meat Inspection Act in 1906, just two years after The Jungle was published.

That’s how capitalism dealt with Sinclair’s socialist pitch. We coopted a good and reasonable idea (the reform of bad meatpacking practices) without adopting an unnatural ideology (socialism). But what does this have to do with God’s word? Plenty! Capitalism is the Bible’s presumptive economy. It is as much a part of the playing field as is the ground we walk on and the air we breathe… and we should think twice before doing away with any of these.

There’s a saying about laws and sausages… that you’d be better off not seeing how either of them is made. Well, those of you who have been around God and the Scripture for any amount of time realize that God makes plenty of sausages — in our lives and in his word… and that he makes no apologies for them.

The Bible is like a sausage factory in that the details of how God does things can be disquieting when viewed through unprepared eyes. That’s why we should always be growing in the knowledge of God. We live in an increasingly complex world — and this world needs adults!

Working in apologetics means that I make frequent trips to the sausage factory (… hence my oft used phrase “life is messy”). But one of the things I love about God is that he doesn’t hide life’s messiness in the Scripture. He gives us our heroes — “warts and all” … and lets the natural results of sin play out upon the stage of his word. This can upset the overly sensitive readers, and it causes some to run away from God.

But who would you rather hang with: someone who dishes up hopeful sounding lies… like that socialism could work in America? Or someone who is preparing you to engage in life? I’ll take the latter. America reordered the world under God and under capitalism… albeit messily… but that’s how the race is won. It’s won by scars… and it’s won through wounds… and it’s won through adjusting to the data.

Raising our children to engage with this free economy — and to face its demons! — is as much God’s will for his people as is breathing. It’s a necessary part of working the Great Commission here on earth — and that’s the kind of idea I’m wrestling with today.

A questioner has heard the challenge that if you read the entire Bible (emphasis mine), then you’ll turn into an atheist. I’ve never heard that one before… and I’m having trouble making sense of it… because the mature reader of Scripture (and accessor of life) is not put off by the icky parts of a factory tour. He embraces them as necessary and prays for the Lord’s return.

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