Bible Study or just Arrogance?

So tonight we had our first session of the Bible Study I’m leading on the book of Revelation. And I feel horrible afterward. Why do I always have to be this way? We had a few visitors from other churches, and instead of welcoming them, I think I just simply turned them off. I found myself quoting The Rapture Exposed, the book I was reading last week. The author of that book was writing it as something of a polemic against a strain of Christianity she found to be dangerous and damaging. What made me think I had to stand up for her tonight? What made me think it was important to lay out, without anyone bringing it up, my case against the theory of the rapture? What made me decide to tell people, before we even got into Revelation, that “prophecy” didn’t mean what they thought it meant? As I was going through it, I was already realizing that I’d make a much better case for my “liberal theology” by adding my commentary in at the end, not at the beginning. But it was too late.

I was so non-pastoral tonight. Maybe I’m right — maybe my theology is accurate — but what’s the point? Like I’ve said so many times before about politics, I’m never going to change anybody’s mind about anything — everybody already knows what they believe, and there’s as much chance of someone in this class abandoning a “literal” understanding of scripture as there is of me gaining one. But I thought I’d learned to be pastoral. I felt like I was back at St. Andrew’s in my 20s, being so arrogant about my beliefs, with no concern about how they were heard.

And the funny thing is — I didn’t feel at all spiritual or holy tonight. I felt like I was just arguing. I felt dry. And maybe that’s because this was actually a really old Bible study I wrote in 2003, back at St. Andrew’s, and which I didn’t update all that much. Maybe that’s because this has been a terribly draining and exhausting week, and I haven’t made the time to pray or to be mindful. Maybe it’s because I haven’t slept well lately. I don’t know. I don’t really know if I owe anybody an apology tonight. Maybe I can just be different next week. Maybe those who were offended just won’t come back.

Or maybe I was just being honest. The Rapture is a disastrous thing. And reading the Bible literally is a fool’s quest. Reading the Bible looking for truth within is more fruitful, but I think maybe I was too focused on what I wasn’t saying to do that. Maybe I can try to nurture a desire among folks to seek for truth next week, more than I was tonight. Ah, crap. I’m just so tired. I have been doing so much lately. I’ve been trying to be both pastor and Christian Ed Director, and it’s getting exhausting. I just hope I can be forgiven for my missteps tonight.

5 comments

  • Hi Pastor. I wasn’t there last night but wanted to be. So I can’t comment on how things went. But I can understand how drained and tired you must be. You are there for the youth, you are there for our congregation, you were strong and compassionate for my family when we needed you, such as you will be for Joan’s family now. AND you are there for your family. It’s a lot. We all appreciate all that you do. We all love you. try to not be so hard on yourself, I know how hard that is. Remember your words of comfort that you gave us … One day at a time and HE loves you.

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    • Thanks for your kind words. As I’ve learned over the years, it’s much easier to say things like “one day at a time” and “God loves you” to other people than it is to say them to myself.

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