My Psalm 26
July 3, 2014
Rightness and Righteousness
One book of scripture with three versions told the story of the children of Abraham. His biography goes that he was told he would be the father of a great nation. Genesis 12:1-2 tells the rest of the promise: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in there shall all families of the earth be blessed.” While some may dispute many stories from the era of the Biblical stories, archaeologists have found a tablet listing “Abram”, his first name, as a witness. No matter the connotation you give him, Abram also known as Abraham was a real man with real influence on history.
So why then is there such great dissension and derision regarding the family histories of the children of Abraham? Are the Bible, the Torah, the Koran incorrect in the teachings they proclaim? Christopher Bryan, in his book “And God Spoke”, attempted to discern the various interpretations and arguments that often arise between church leaders and the children of Abraham. After all, God doesn’t seem to mind our limited ability to understand and act. Peter is quoted in Acts saying: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident…” are the famous beginning words Thomas Jefferson wrote which became the opening volley in the American Revolution. The Declaration of Independence upheld that all men were created equal, an idea based upon the deeply religious background of all who came to the new world seeking the opportunity to worship as they desired. Whether the Spanish in the southern regions who brought their Catholicism, the various forms of Protestantism from England and Germany, to the Catholicism of the French, few came for the untamed frontier. They came and brought their religious backgrounds, the foundations of their very lives. Their Creator loved all his creations equally and His children were included in that love by virtue of their being.
To be endowed by their Creator was not only the basis of the Christian faith, it was a topic discussed in John Locke’s “Second Treatise” and continued in other English writings such as those by Algernon Sidney and Richard Rumbold. The concept of freedom and equality may have found a home in the soon-to-be country but it began in England and Scotland during their battles with the Roman armies. The pursuit of happiness was the intent of all living beings. After all, who would want a life of misery?
England Republicanism had also bought a ticket and traveled across the Atlantic and stood up the colonists considered the purpose of government. The consent of the governed became a rallying cry, again based upon the respect due each human being. The “just powers” for the government has to be those that protected the lives, liberties, and pursuit of happiness for those it governed. Anything else was deemed destructive and again, the question was raised as to why someone would want a destructive government?
Finally, the Declaration proclaimed the duty of the people which was to establish a government (and country) that would protect the people, provide safety for all, and allow them to pursue their happiness. These words were echoed in the inscription on the Statue of Liberty one hundred years later. An statue of great architectural design and so envied by the presenting country of France that the internal frame was copied and now stands as the Eiffel Tower.
Now those words are finding it hard to be self-evident. Their truth is being disputed by those who seek to bring about the downfall of the United States of America. Children of Abraham are plotting the murders of the brethren and it is all in the name of Father Abraham’s sons. Where is the rightness of the interpretation? Where is the righteousness of the respective faiths?
In his book, Bryan quotes from Harold Lindsell’s book “Battle for the Bible”: “The Bible in all of its parts constitutes the written Word of God to man. This Word is free from all error in its original autographs.” Bryan notes that, of course, “We do not have these autographs.” Language is forever fluid and that was true in the time of the original writings. Some stories were scribed in one language and/or dialect while others were conveyed by word of mouth for hundreds of years.
When an infant is born, he/she seems oblivious to the world around him/her. If nurtured, though, a sense of compassion can be seen within a few weeks. By the age of three or four months, the same infant who ignored the cries of another will now turn his/her head to the person in distress. It is as if the caring nature is innate and just waiting to be released. Hatred comes much later and while it may seem to be a more advanced emotion, is really merely a selfish, narrow-minded view which is based not on faith but on ego.
If we are to be faithful to any religion, then we must remember where we come from and where we are going. We cannot claim to walk with integrity if we walk above others. Our “inalienable rights” referred to in the Declaration were those inherent rights, which are found in the essential character of man, those specific qualities that makes us human beings. If we did not have the inherent right to life and liberty we would be the same as other animals. Our humanness, our humanity is the basis for our freedoms. How we use them defines our faith and our integrity. As Bryan so eloquently concludes, “peace and unity are our challenge, our destiny, and God’s promise to us.” The righteousness in God’s promise is that it is for all, equally. The rightness is in how we live, where we choose to go.
My Psalm 26
I walk in faith, O Lord.
Guide me to your presence.
I seek not the wicked, the hypocrites, the shallow-minded.
I turn away from those that rebuke me.
Instead I dance in the glory of your love;
I bathe in the balm of your mercy.
I revile those who would live for material things.
I try to not be swayed by the riches of the evil.
Hear me, O God, and guide my steps.
Guide me to walk in your Light forever.