By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
One of the icons of American government and a signer of the U.S. Constitution, recommended that the document be rewritten every 19 years.
“Each generation should have the solemn opportunity to update the constitution every 19 or 20 years, thus allowing it to be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, until the end of time,” he wrote, according to The New Republic Magazine.
Instead, we have had the same document, with amendments added but no revisions to the basic, foundational text, since 1789.
In the case of the Bible, biblical scholar Dr. Bernard Brandon Scott said that the Bible as we have it was not written until the 4th century, ACE, but we act as though it was written right at the time of the life of the Christ. The early followers of the Christ did not call themselves Christian. They were in fact, Jews, and they struggled to figure out what to call themselves.
It was not until the 4th century, when Constantine took a liking to the new religion, that it became known as Christianity. Constantine made it the official religion of the empire. As such, in spite of the teachings of Jesus, it had little to do with those teachings. Jesus, say some scholars, was basically ignored as a teacher.
It was under Constantine that the new religion was codified at the Council of Nicaea in 325 ACE, and was identifiable by what people believed, not by what they did, says Scott, the Westar Institute noted in a blog.
In today’s world, especially in this country, many who call themselves “Christian” ought not be called that because they actually reject the teachings of the Christ. In the minds of many, the Gospel is represented by a man who was weak and powerless. In the words of the son of the last president, “the teachings of Jesus have gotten us nothing, The Atlantic reported.
What is most important to these so-called Christians is a “faith” which indicates their loyalty to a person who is in power, no matter who ends up getting hurt in the process, not their practice of the policies set forth by the Christ.
There is no intersection of beliefs of those who believe in the deification of a ruler and those who believe in and work to practice the tenets of the Christ. The deification of a ruler helps form their “theology,” which includes making an idol of the Second Amendment – allowing them to have guns – while ignoring other amendments which seek to provide lives of dignity and equity for all American citizens.
Those who have deified human rulers and systems which promote and support the oppression of others split a long time ago from the religion of Jesus. It was slavery which showed the true colors of American “Christianity.” There were those who believed and taught that, as the Bible was OK with slavery, so too should people be; and they went a step further with some teaching that segregation was scriptural and that God was the greatest supporter of segregation, The Gospel Coalition published in a blog.
These people do not believe in democracy any more than they believe in the teachings of Jesus. Some have called democracy “mobocracy.” In her book, The Power Worshippers, author Katherine Stewart notes, “…the fundamental difference …is that one party is how beholden to a movement that does not appear to have much respect for representative democracy.” She continues, “Today it makes more sense to regard the Republican party as a host vehicle for a radical movement that denies that the other party has any legitimate claim to political power.” The Constitution is likewise disrespected and interpreted by the Right in ways that reveal a basic misunderstanding of the document’s intentions. Even at the time of its writing, the Constitution never intended for “rights” to be extended to all Americans, and they made it clear by the Exclusion Act of 1790 that the only persons they deemed eligible for American citizenship were White people, according to a PBS timeline RACE – The Power of Illusion.
In essence then, we do not have any document that is respected enough to protect the interests of the masses of people. I have called both the U.S. Constitution and the Bible “sacred” but in fact, they are both manipulated, misinterpreted and maligned without much regard or respect for either.
We need a new Constitution, or at least begin the process of revision, done every 20 years, that Jefferson recommended. We need that so that we have a document that speaks to the country as it is today, not as it was as a fledgling nation. Similarly, we need a modern-day Biblical council that reviews the Bible’s teachings, or maybe the creation of a Bible that those who claim to be Christian but who ignore the teachings of Jesus can use and leave the traditional Bible alone. Their quoting it as justification for their actions and beliefs is an insult to those who believe in the Christ and the Gospel as “good news” to the vast numbers of people in this country who need a God who hears their cries and inspires people to build community, not create and sustain chaos based on racism, sexism, Xenophobia, homophobia and a belief that God created this world just for them.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at email@example.com.