I used to say that I did a four-year apprenticeship to learn how to play “Five Hundred”. The game that was played during crib breaks underground was more important than any actual work that happened in the mine. It was with great fear that I would stand in for one of the regular players – I say with great fear because the wrath that followed a wrong play was devastating to my young ego. The trick was firstly to know what the trump suit was, and secondly, when to play them.
I am now in a position where I would dearly love to see my church change its stances on gender issues. Whether it be women’s ordination or statements against LGBTI people. This will all happen without any input of mine – truth and justice seem to win eventually, so I don’t need to fear. However I recognize that the changes will only continue to mask a deeper underlying problem. This has to do with the trump cards I talked about in my opening paragraphs.
It is universally accepted that the bible is the trump card. It is the aim of this post to question this largely uncontested idea. In the game of five hundreds Aces are critically important to the game. The bible is like an Ace. The highest in value in its own suit. History has shown in numerous different ways that it is not a trump card and should never be used as such. The results of doing this are embarrassing – the smallest card in a trump suit will beat an ace.
Each round of five hundreds reveals a new trump suit. In history we see religion throwing out Aces in an honest attempt to win the hand that each generation is dealt. The bible says that slavery is established by God. The Bible says that women have their established roles within society, marriage and the church. The Bible says that the earth was created in six days. There are at least five hundred ways in which religion throws out Aces with the firm belief that they are trumps. Coincidentally, five hundred years ago the church had a big shift in what it believed to be the trump suit. The institution of the church and Pope were the inerrant trump card until the reformation shifted power to the Bible. The claims of inerrancy in both cases giving a false sense of security – and giving the institution of the “church” a tool of great power. However, as each round in history comes to a close, the trumps come out and beat the fancy aces of religion. After each round we as church have a collective amnesia which forgets the foolish card play of the past.
The trump suit is reality. When Galileo was jailed for pondering the movement of stars, he was looking at the Bible that God gave us for the first 14 billion years ( Rom. 1:20), his glorious and loved creation.
The smallest child that is marginalised by the powers and authorities of this world – will trump any written word no matter how much we dress it up to look like a trump card, because love is the ultimate reality.