I was at a different church this weekend – a United Methodist church.  I happened to pick up their Sunday School curriculum.  And kept it as evidence.

I’m not naming the church – I don’t mean to defame them.  I don’t mind defaming the denomination.

The first class for Sunday School, the one they’re leading with, is called “Experiencing the Bible Again”.  Interesting.  A look back, maybe, or deeper insights.  And then I read the description.

This group will focus on the role of the Bible in our faith tradition and how to read it insightfully and take it seriously but not literally.

Buzzers went off when I read “faith tradition”, but the train jumped the tracks completely at “seriously but not literally”.

I took a class at work on Systems Analysis.  The big emphasis in the class was to “put a number on it”.  To emphasize the point, the teacher asked who in the class drank a lot of coffee.  Most everybody did.  Then he clarified, person by person, how much coffee is a lot.  During that little exercise, we found out that a “lot of coffee” ranges from two cups a day to two pots a day.  But everybody drank “a lot”.

This is the same way.  Wanting to treat the Bible seriously is good.  That is similar to a lot of coffee.  Taking the Bible literally is putting a number on it.  It’s 100% real, inspired by God.  If you’re not agreeing with that, you’re just playing with words.

This church is gay-friendly.  I believe the whole denomination is that way.  The problem I have with that is that it promotes homosexuality as an appropriate choice for people.  I disagree, and the Bible disagrees.  Homosexuality is wrong, and people who sin in that way should be loved and encouraged to return to God (the loving, merciful God of the literal Bible) just as much as the person who sins with alcohol, or with gossip, or with greed.  We all fall short of God’s perfection, and God wants to restore each one of us through Jesus’ sacrifice.

I think that this church (individually or as a denomination) is twisting scripture to fit their own agenda.  They see what is in themselves as the truth, instead of seeing an external, holy, righteous God.  Just like our administration is finding out, it’s real easy to win when you get to write all the rules.  But one day the church will discover, as the administration is starting to, that winning doesn’t mean you’re right.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t lose.  The end of the government’s ploy against the American people may come this November, when the elections may actually throw the bums out.  For that church, the point where their perceived win turns to an actual loss may come when they are standing before God, and their deeds are judged.  In politics, there is often time to recreate yourself.  With God, there is time for redemption, but that stops when you die.

After that, the judgment.

Eternity is mighty high stakes to wager on hoping you guessed right about how merciful God is when you’re not faithful in the little things.