Thomas Merton was a mystic, author and activist who lived most of his adult life in the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. He died in Vietnam where he traveled to enter into religious discussions with Buddhist monks and leaders. Being Roman Catholic, his writings are not always immediately accessible to those outside of the Catholic Church but the excerpt below is vintage Merton, challenging Christians to be challenged, even troubled by the Bible:
There is, in a word, nothing comfortable about the Bible–until we manage to get so used to it that we make it comforable for ourselves. … Have we ceased to question the book and be questioned by it? Have we ceased to fight it? Then perhpas our reading is no longer serious.
For most people, the understanding of the Bible is, and should be, a struggle: not merely to find meanings that can be looked up in books of reference, but to come to terms personally with the stark scandal and conadiction in the Bible itself…
Let us not be too sure we know the Bible just because we have learned not to be astonished at it, just because we have learned not to have problems with it. – T. Merton, Opening the Bible
What do you think? Do you “fight” with the Bible, wrestle with it like Jacob did the angel? Or, has it become a completely tame book that no longer lays any claim on your soul?
(from The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey)