Originally posted on Patheos’ Marcus Borg here.
I have been thinking a lot lately about what I wish every Christian knew. On my list: I wish all Christians, especially American Christians, knew the book of Amos.
My reasons are both personal and more than personal. Amos was responsible for one of the three major conversions in my life. Two were intellectual and religious: a conversion to the study of religion and an experiential conversion to the conviction that God is real. The third was political: from the conservative political orientation I absorbed while I was growing up to what I have learned from the Bible and Jesus.
Amos was the trigger. In my junior year in college in a political philosophy course, we spent a week on Amos. The encounter stunned me. Speaking in the name of God, he passionately indicted the powerful and wealthy of his time because they had created an economic system that privileged them and inflicted misery and suffering on most of the population.
Prior to that class, I had no idea that there was anything like this in the Bible. Yet I had grown up with the Bible and had memorized more verses than anybody I knew. But nobody had ever asked me to read Amos or any of the prophets. I knew of them primarily through isolated verses that we understood to be prophecies of the coming of Jesus. The prophets were “predictors” of events centuries in the future from their point in time. It had not occurred to me that Amos and the prophets in general might have had a message for their own time and place. Continue reading