There are a lot of “reality” shows on TV about people investigating strange or paranormal occurrences. There are shows about ghosts, monsters, Bigfoot, aliens, UFOs, etc. One in particular is called “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files.” The investigators attempt to recreate and debunk alleged paranormal events. Sometimes they uncover a hoax and other times they label the event “unexplained.” The viewer can form his or her own opinion based on the “expert” analysis of the investigators.
Sometimes it seems like people take a similar approach with the Bible. For example, Jesus said a lot of strange and disturbing things like, “If your hand offends you, cut it off,” and “If your eye offends you, pluck it out.” He called himself a door and a vine. He said we must be born again of water and of spirit. He said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. He talked about Hell and eternal damnation. He told his followers that they needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. He held up bread and called it his body. He held up wine and called it his blood. He said lots of wild stuff, some of which caused his followers to walk away from him. He also raised the dead, healed the sick, walked on water and controlled nature. And, of course, he was killed and came back to life.
So, fact or faked? Which of Jesus’ statements and actions are real and which are hyperbole? Are any of them real? Are all of them metaphor? For example, did Jesus “fake out” his followers and then let them walk away from eternal life in John 6? What would a panel of “experts” say? What would your Bible study group conclude and why? Would your opinion match the others in your study group? What would your Sunday school teacher conclude? How does he or she know the answer? Would your preacher agree with the preacher down the street?
People get together and draw their own conclusions about Scripture. “Oh, Jesus didn’t really mean that, he was just ‘faking us out’ to test our faith or to prove a point.” That may be true some of the time. Parables are designed to have an impact and make a point. However, some people have actually maimed themselves because Jesus said to cut off their offending body parts. Were they wrong in doing so, or were they being extremely holy? When is Jesus being serious and when is he just being metaphorical to make a point? He wasn’t always metaphorical, was he? Is it just bread or is it really him? Fact or faked?
All the confusion demonstrates the need for the Spirit-led, teaching authority of the Church. When Christ’s Church authority is rejected, we are left with the opinions and conclusions of whoever wants to be an “expert.” Without the authority that Christ gave to the offices of the pope and the magisterium we are left to our own devices. Conflicting opinions rule the day. Not a good situation when eternal life is on the line. We might as well rely on a television reality show called, “Fact or Faked: Bible Files” to guide us in matters of faith and morals.