“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. ” Psalm 119:89 (NIV)
On the morning of December 7, 2007, Christopher Campbell walked into his English Honors class at Parker High School to deliver a speech inspired by a Ralph Waldo Emerson aphorism, “So far as a man thinks, he is free.” In line with this aphorism Campbell suggests that “things like faith, mysticism, and feeling restrict one from productive, rational thought, and if we are not thinking, we are not free. Our only means of acquiring knowledge should be through rationale and logic.”
Developing the concept Campbell says; “The Bible is not rational to me, so why would I want to waste my life studying it, trying to seek some ‘moral enlightenment’ from its pages? Now what I’m about to do next, some of your tiny little brains might not be able to comprehend, so viewer discretion is advised.” Campbell then lifted a copy of the Bible in his hand as he spoke. “This book has halted the intellectual advancement of humankind for centuries. But now I am free from its grasp, so I am free to do this. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became kindling.” At this point, Campbell starts to tear the pages. “This book is not holy. It was written by a bunch of old, smelly Mesopotamians with sand in their (expletive). Now, will anyone come up here with me to testify, and kick Jesus out of your heart?” No response from the students. “Well, I guess I’m surrounded by a bunch of superstitious, simple-minded ignoramuses.” Campbell sat down. Only three students clapped. The teacher gave him a B. [Source: Maggie Ardiente, Ripping into the Bible, The Humanist, March/April 2008].
It would be an understatement to say that Campbell considers the Bible irrelevant. It would also be an understatement to say that I profoundly disagree with Campbell. Which is why, to Emerson’s aphorism, I would add Plato’s maxim that “Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself.” Plato’s truth is compelling. It reminds us that there is a profoundly spiritual component to thinking and a deeply thinking component to spirituality.
Which raises a question: How, in the light of Plato’s maxim, might a person’s thinking be informed so that s/he is free? In my opinion: Through a thinking faith. And what informs a thinking faith? Again in my opinion: The Bible. And why do I say that? Because the Bible speaks to us from a transcendent perspective; something which no other book (or person) can do!
That’s it – plain and simple. If I had been a student in the English Honors class at Parker High School my speech would have been about the Bible providing the framework and building blocks for our quest for understanding, about thinking as a dimension of being, and about freedom as a corollary to faith. After all, the Bible clearly says that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free” Galatians 5:1.