Historians have understood for some time now that warfare has driven much of the major advancements in technology though out the course of recorded human history. And, much of that development has allowed us to become more and more destructive to each other as a species. This might be the easiest to see in the development metals and alloys. Early metals were soft and flexible. Although useful for many tools and tasks, implements and swords would dull quickly, and there was a limited effectiveness which these early metal devices could achieve.
However, that all changed with the advent of bronze. This blended material allowed for harder, stronger and sharper weapons to develop. Warfare was instantaneously altered; small groups of heavily armed and heavily armored troops could bring decimation upon more lightly armored foes, or those that lacked the sharp tools to fight back with. In their tough alloy armor, these bronze clad warriors could remain perfectly safe, while bringing slaughter of their enemies with swords capable of causing grievous wounds to flesh and bone. Warfare evolved with these new hard alloys and it only become more brutal and bloody.
For me this is how I see the hard, inerrant Bible, of fundamental Christianity. It’s once soft, inviting pages have been hammered and folded into something new, strong enough to use as a weapon. What once was a soft tool, which did not easily lend itself to the brutalization of others, took that metal, blended it with ideologies and nationalism and hammered it until it became something that could be a weapon. But we did not stop there, we kept pounding, hammering Scripture, until it has now produced something for many that can only be a weapon. It is our weapon, to defend ourselves with – or to attack others with.
I understand why it is so hard to put down a sword. It is a dangerous and confusing world that we live in, and sometimes we have carried that weapon so long we don’t know how to live without it. Places that once felt safe make us now feel exposed and vulnerable – and indeed we may get hurt.
But one only needs to look down as the blood stains and the battle marks on our hard, hard weapon to know why we must let it go. It is long past time that we again return to the soft pages of a Bible with room for all of us. Luther described the Bible as the cradle of Christ. The Bible can be a place that catches everyone and opens us to a new freedom, a new love and a new life together. But as long as we are willing to harden our Bibles, and make them a weapon – effective only for causing so much harm – then Christ is the last thing we will find in its pages. We will only find the blood stains of those that have paid the price for those sharp, sharp pages – not the healing love of our God.