My Bible and Tribal Warfare

gary portraitGodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

It is the fault of the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg.

In 1440, he invented the printing press with movable metal type. The fundamentals of his invention served until the late 20th century in making the printed page common as sand.

war14Once he finished the printing press and the movable type to go with it he immersed himself into the project that became his namesake—a printed Bible. Over the years of 1454 and 1455 Gutenberg printed 180 copies of what in now known as the Gutenberg Bible.

He could never have dreamed of the millions upon millions to be impacted—both by his invention and by his Bible.

war3Without a doubt, my favorite class in both my junior and senior years of high school was printing.

From a large type case, we learned to use movable metal type—much like Gutenberg. As the course progressed we move to the next step—the offset printing press.

Yes, this printing thing caught on.

Just three years ago Bible Societies distributed 34 million Bibles to nations of our globe. There are now more bibles than people in our 21st century world. This statement is somewhat misleading as multi-millions across the globe still lack some or all of the Bible in their own language.

Prior to Johannes Gutenberg the church determined doctrine and its priests read portions of the Bible to congregants. In a sense the priests held the Bible as private property confined within the walls of the church.

worldview9However, the printing press moved the Bible from the clergy to the people.

What was unheard of for thousands of years is today’s reality.

As a common citizen I own a complete copy of God’s Holy Word. I don’t have to depend on the clergy to tell me what their Bible says. I have my own copy.

I would argue that the new printing press sparked the growth of literacy. Add to that the internet phenomena of the 21st century and the Bible is set loose in the streets.

war17Just over sixty years after the Gutenberg Bible came off the press the young Martin Luther was teaching at the University of Wittenberg. As Luther read his Bible he identified 95 theses of misalignment between his Bible and his church.

Luther’s 95 theses nailed to the chapel doors on October 31, 1517 spread throughout Germany within two weeks and across Europe within two months.

war19The Protestant Reformation had begun.

Since Luther’s time millions of men and women have read their Bibles and drawn their own conclusions. From that reading we humans wired with conviction, pride and persuasion have created thousands upon thousands of church tribes.

Even those within the same tribe find their Bible reads differently from other adherents of the same group. Pew and pulpit fail to reach one hundred percent agreement.

war7At our worst tribes shoot at other tribes or we are at war with our own subtribes.

At our best, far too many of us practice “cold shoulder” recognition of other Christ followers who read their Bible differently and worship Father, Son and Spirit under a dissimilar church sign.

Perhaps a divided body isn’t all the fault of the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg. We fail to realize that none of us are perfect readers and under every church sign is found imperfect interpretations.

Probably, from time to time I should raise a prayer of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for gifting Gutenberg with an inquisitive mind and the tenacity to create an open door for me to have my own Bible that I can read anytime day or night.

And maybe—just maybe—I should be less judgmental and allow others the grace to read their Bible different from me.

war20Possibly, I should treat those who worship under other church signs (who too are disciples of Jesus) as brothers and sisters since we claim the same Lord and Father.

Is it conceivable that God was behind a plan that would involve Gutenberg the German inventor, Luther, the German disciple, and the printing industry to open doors for millions to give their hearts to Father, Son and Spirit?

Perhaps we should lay down our offensive weapons and praise God for all who discover salvation in Jesus through the diverse ways they read their Bible.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Bible and Tribal Warfare

Guardrails For Living

GodReflection: Guardrails for Living

garyguarujaIt was an Opel Kadett. The color was sort of a washed-out mustard color like someone had mixed a generous portion of white mayonnaise into yellow paint.

The purchase was finalized earlier in the week. About the only guardrail I put in place was to buy auto insurance just prior to leaving town.


Opel Kadett

With a generous portion of youthful lack of wisdom, seasoned by a week of little sleep from college studies, work, and late coffee sessions, my brother and I left after work one evening for the 500-mile drive to our favorite fishing spot in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Twenty minutes from our long anticipated destination I went to sleep behind the wheel.

As I awoke I pushed hard on the brake pedal. It was too much too late as we slid through the gravel and over the embankment totaling both the Opel Kaddett and the fishing trip.

If only the state of Colorado had placed a guard rail on the curved gravel road.

If only I had placed guardrails on my own actions.

A worn out exhausted person should know better than to get into a car without sleep and attempt to drive all night. Nope, we tried to drive all night without guardrails in place.

guardrails7It’s the time of year when I’ve worked my way through the letters of the aged Elder, the Apostle John.

As I read through 1 John I found myself impressed anew with its simplicity and practicality for my trip through life.

I quickly began to list numerous descriptions to catch its meaning and purpose.

I thought of insights to live by, insights that give life, how to walk, it’s not that complicated, or how should I live?

I also jotted down life in the Son, instructions for life, and a phrase that especially seemed descriptive of the letter was Life, Assemble with Care.

guardrails4Finally, it hit me. John didn’t know it—as the first century lacked automobiles—but he was describing Guardrails for Living.

I think of John’s church context.

Over a half century had passed since Jesus’ resurrection. The church was still two hundred fifty years away from the first copy of a completed sixty-six book Bible and Fourteen hundred years away from Bible distribution made possible by printing with moveable type of the Gutenberg Bible in the 1460’s.

Believers followed Jesus with a faith dependent upon eyewitness accounts shared with them by the Apostle John and others who testified to the resurrected Lord.

Time passed. Influence by Greek culture Christ followers were infiltrated by false teachers who sold the goods to them that Jesus was only a teacher. Nothing more. If he was really God, then he could not have lived in a human body. The divine and the human don’t mix.

Therefore, they taught Jesus was not who he claimed to be.

Since the divine and human couldn’t mix life was composed of body separated from spirit. Spirit was holy and worshiped God. Body was human and could do whatever it pleased.

John declared the Greek thinking to be absolutely wrong.

guardrails5The Greek thought was sending Jesus followers tumbling off of the trail of reality. So the old apostle writes to “My little children” of faith and shares Guardrails for Living that they could depend on to keep them safe in Jesus care.

I too want to assemble my life with care in order to live within the reality of the Holy.

As I read John’s letter over his shoulder, I begin to see that I need the very same Guardrails for Living.

Over the next several posts I want to claim a portion of his wisdom into my own action steps for my walk on God’s earth.

The good news is Jesus is who he claimed to be—God in the flesh. He still invites all to walk with him. Plus, he provides refreshing rest stops and cool water along the way.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on Guardrails for Living.



Gutenberg Church


Johannes Gutenberg changed church.

With the invention of movable type and the completion of the first printing press in 1440, Johannes effected change in science, art—yes and even religion. Mass transmission of the printed text changed the world.

It changed the church.

I grew up believing I alone was among the few who belonged to the New Testament Church.  I was partially right.

I was right that I belonged to Christ’s church.

I was wrong in my identification of God’s children. I was also wrong in believing my way of doing church was identical with the church of the first century.

It dawns on me that Johannes Gutenberg is to blame.

Hear me out on this one.

Think about it. Prior to movable printing type human kind depended on rare copies of manuscripts and hearing the preaching of clergy to learn of God’s purpose in His world.

With the invention of the printing press and the distribution of the Gutenberg Bible Scripture became available to us commoners.

It turns out the not-so-great aspect was us commoners all had an opinion.

In addition, Mr. Gutenberg’s invention allowed the rapid spread of written history and many aspects of culture.

Poof, we were no longer in isolation.

Most all churches in America have DNA from the Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening, and the Civil War.

Through the printed page my generation inherits all of the fights and traditions generated throughout Catholic history, protestant history, and American history.

Gutenberg’s printing revolution moved the war into the backyard of my soul.

I inherit more of the culture initiated by Johannes Gutenberg than I can possibly imagine. Through culture and the printed page I acquire truths and untruths.

The question is what do I do with Gutenberg’s resulting church?

Here is how I am attempting to address Gutenberg’s church in my own life:

1. I want my commitment to God generated from the depth of my soul.

2. I want to live within the entirety of Scripture, making an all out effort to know the heart of God and of His desire for me.

3. I want to strive for humility as I relate to God and others. As I discover tradition in my own life that I have mistaken for doctrine, it makes me want to be more tolerant with others.

4. I want to remember God is in control and remind myself that He did not appoint me to judge His church.

5. I want to trust God’s indwelling Spirit to help me grow to be more like His Son.  For it is the Son who paints over my human weaknesses and human miss-understandings with His blood.

6. I want to be a healthy member of the body of Jesus–His church.

How have you transferred your membership from Gutenberg’s church to the church of God?

Stay tuned.

Gary J. Sorrells – Reflecting on Cross Church