“I hate, I despise your festivals, and I do not delight in your solemn assemblies!” The words of some godless communist? A disaffected liberal? An angry atheist? No. These stark words come from Amos, the prophet. Each year when I teach my course on the Hebrew Prophets I am struck by how strident their words are. For Fundamentalists and others who take the Bible literally the words belong to none other than the Big Guy. The Primal Y. G-d. God hates the worship conducted in a land where injustice reigns.
Although the basic principles sound correct, it is clear that America cannot really be considered a just society. There are a few too many families without enough to eat, a few too many homeless on the street-corners of our cities, a few too many unemployed. And a few too few filthy rich. There is plenty to go around, and one might naively think prosperity might trickle down. It doesn’t. I’ve always been amazed to see the girth of many prosperity gospelers who inveigh against the unrighteous. A sturdy measuring tape might tell us all we really need to know about righteousness.
Bible believers do not believe in the Bible. They accept the message they wish to hear, that God loves those who are rewarded with wealth, but the message of Amos they have little time for. They miss the part where the prophet calls them cows of Bashan that are fat for sacrifice. Yet when they flip out their iconic Bibles the theologically illiterate follow them to the polls. The more they pound their Bibles the more they are beating innocent victims. Be careful before becoming a Bible believer – it is not always a comfortable place to be!