People think the Bible is boring.
I was talking to another man one time, explaining my process of teaching the Old Testament and getting people to dig deeper.
At one point, he looked at me in surprise and said “It sounds like you are talking about The Lord of the Rings or something.”
This is a normal reaction given what most people are fed. If you never grew up in the church, you are taught the Bible is a derivative myth, a hodgepodge of stories that is, at best, unimportant. At worst, it is dangerous for people to take seriously.
If you did grow up in the church, you were probably taught a watered-down version that skips a lot of the “troubling” parts of the Old Testament and skips straight to the Jesus stuff (the gospel).
But the Bible is dangerous. It was meant to be dangerous.
Just not in the way the secular world wants you to believe it’s dangerous.
The fact that men, in particular, would find comparisons to Lord of the Rings surprising is a consequence of the feminization of the church.
The modern church has focused on one aspect of the Bible to the detriment of others. It has taught a neutered gospel.
So what is the Bible? And what is the gospel? Let’s push aside the normal platitudes and focus on the epic story being told.
The cross, and the death of Jesus, is the surprising climax of an exciting epic full of blood, battle, and chaos, the rise and fall of kings, dynasties, and empires, the constant clash of good and evil, courageous exploits of men and woman both great and small, wizard duels and superheroes, giants and demons, contests of wit and wisdom, dark political machinations, and the triumph and tragedies of warrior poets.
It is an epic beyond anything the Illiad, the Odyssey, or the Lord of the Rings can offer. And it has the most surprising twist imaginable.
It is also true.
Instead of focusing on the epic, we isolate the cross and the gospel and make it about our personal salvation. While not wrong on the surface, this is too small in scope. The cross is the true king finally coming into his own, after all hope seemed lost, and preparing to reward his friends and smite his enemies…
Instead of focusing on the epic, we made baptism nothing but a cleansing of our own sins. Again, not wrong, and that is glorious in and of itself. But too small in scope. Baptism is also an anointing and ordainment, a declaration of knighthood, where the new man is given a sword and told to go forth and conquer for his new king…
Instead of focusing on the epic, we have made households and churches a refuge from the world. But households and churches are fortresses, advance outposts in the heart of enemy territory, where we train new recruits and from which we launch new offensives…
Instead of focusing on the epic, we create an environment where the rhetoric of the rough prophets of old, and of John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul, is considered “mean” and “insensitive.” Many church-goers today would scold them for their harsh words. But the imprecatory psalms have as much a place on our lips as the penitent psalms, calling for the overthrow of our enemies…
The cross of Christ is the ultimate call to adventure for any man willing to fight. It is a call for young men to glory in their strength and enthusiasm while storing up plunder for themselves in heaven, instead of working for self-aggrandizement and passing pleasure. It is a call to make the epic a reality and to take your rightful place in it.
And instead, we use the cross to domesticate our men.
We have taught a neutered gospel because a church full of eunuchs is easier to manage.
It is no wonder that men do not flock to the banner and instead turn to other things.
But the Bible is meant to be dangerous, and the cross was meant to create dangerous men.