Oxymoron: A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined, as in “a deafening silence” and “a mournful optimist”. (dictionary.reference.com)
A friend of ours has kindly given us a subscription to “The Briefing” magazine. It is a fairly middle of the road evangelical journal, and to be honest we are so grateful to have reading material in English that we usually read it from cover to cover as soon as it arrives in the postbox.

This month I was reading a book review, during which the reviewer was lamenting the lack of Biblical content in the publication he was critiquing. He gave several examples, as in the following:

“One curious example can be found in chapter 3 where he describes a “World without God” with examples from poetry, Pink Floyd and Nietsche, but without a single reference to any Bible passage…. Another is when he uses Dorcas (of Acts 9:36-42) and the Samaritan woman (of John 4:1-29) as models of the way that we might evangelise. It’s not that we can learn nothing from Dorcas and the Samaritan woman, but to choose them as examples over and above biblical instruction….”

Now this guy’s Bible might be different to mine, but I have managed to locate both Dorcas and the Samaritan woman in my Bible, and therefore I was left slightly astounded by the inference that these examples were somehow as “unbiblical” as Pink Floyd or Nietsche.

It might be that the guy has an unfortunate writing style, or that the editing job could have been more thorough, but I suspect that it is closely related to the viewpoint that “if it isn’t Paul it doesn’t count”. I haven’t seen it on sale, but I know there is a marketing opportunity for a “wallet edition evangelical bible” starting from Romans and ending with Philemon. It would be an instant best seller.

I don’t know the reason for this phenomenon, I imagine it might be because actually we have no idea what to do with the Bible, and rather than say “we have no idea what to do with the Bible”, we try instead to stick with the bits that we think that we can most easily reduce to “three rules for holy living”.

What I do know is that this phenomenon needs challenging, if only because in some quarters the phrase “evangelical thinking” is hovering on the brink of being relegated to our list of favourite oxymorons, along with “police intelligence”, “Microsoft works” or “airline food”.

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