I have a confession to make: I’m a Nadia Bolz-Weber fanboy. One of the reasons I’m a fan is because she doesn’t look (or act) like a pastor. Six feet tall and tattooed with the ability to put a sailor to shame in the language department, she breaks more than a few stereotypes. But, I like what she says, too. One day, I was checking out her blog and found a sermon she preached titled “Sermon on Spiritual Gifts (which unfairly doesn’t include snarkyness)” It was about a seminary conversation on spiritual gifts where she realized with disappointment that “snarkiness and sarcasm are never listed as gifts of the Spirit”. I immediately thought “Why aren’t they?”
To answer that question, we should probably talk about what spiritual gifts are, first. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says there are “endowments given by the Spirit”. Not a lot of help, is it? Wikipedia says they are “supernatural graces which individual Christians need to fulfill the mission of the church”. So, if they’re endowments of the spirit” or “supernatural graces”, what are the specific gifts?
That little tidbit is most easily found in the letters of Paul. It’s an extensive list, more than I cover in a blog post that won’t make your eyes glaze over, but this is a pretty good list. You’ll notice the good Reverend is right, snark and sarcasm are not on here. Why? Probably because they require a sense of humor and, in my opinion, Paul is the most unfunny person in the Bible. Considering some of the people in there, that’s saying a lot. My question is why does Paul get to decide what the individual gifts are?
I think that it’s mostly because he stepped up and said something and nobody else did. And, because the Bible is considered so holy, nothing can be added to it. That’s not good, as it renders it into a dead collection of paper instead of the living document. And, if you knew how the canon was established, you might not be so sure about that “holiness” aspect. I don’t see why we can’t add a few newer spiritual gifts to the list. And, if we’re adding, why not snark and sarcasm?
I’ve been working on this for a couple of months, trying to turn having a smart mouth into a spiritual gift. Hey, you work with what you’ve got. Now, I wasn’t exactly blessed with wisdom and my attempt at speaking in tongues was a dismal failure (so I faked it for a while), but I do have a pretty sharp sense of humor. I really wasn’t been having much success until help came from an unexpected quarter. From Mark Driscoll, of all people. Yesterday, I saw a Facebook status (supposedly his, but I’m skeptical) that said “Not all spiritual gifts are listed in the Bible. Any talent that a Christian uses to serve the cause of the gospel is a gift—music, art, etc”. There you have it, kids, snarkyness and sarcasm are blessed as spiritual gifts by no less a scriptural authority than Pastor Mark himself. Hmm, maybe I should reconsider that endorsement.