Don’t you believe the Bible?
See James 1.23 “Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror.”
If I look into a mirror and see a stain on my shirt and then say someone else needs to put on a clean shirt and don’t change my shirt I’m really missing the whole point of the mirror aren’t I? See Matt 7:1-4
So do I believe the Bible? The correct question is: “Do I believe your interpretation of the Bible? Many people are confused about the difference between the two questions. I was for many years. I thought the interpretation I was taught of scripture and the scripture itself were the same thing. If not the same thing then the only acceptable interpretation. They are not. I do believe we are ALL free agents when it comes to Bible interpretation. I am not required to believe your view neither are you required to think like I do. Most important God will not punish either of us for having different points of view. The only requirement is we respect and love each other, of course that is my biblical take on the injunction to love one another. For some strange reason Christianity became a haven for heresy hunters and heretic killers. One branch of theology we can easily do without is Apologetics.
I believe the Bible is an accurate expression of what the writers believed at the time they wrote their part. Also it was the writers perception of the events they addressed, a one sided conversation at that. Just because they believed and reported such things does not make what they believed accurate as to how God really is nor is it necessarily inaccurate. What the writers wrote are accurate expressions of their personal viewpoints. It is pretty well agreed by historians that the writings were not even considered “holy or sacred” until hundreds of yeas later. I believe it records the current cultural mores of the time and place the writers wrote their words. I also believe the Bible’s stories and accounts of historical events are really morality tales not actual or necessarily accurate “history”. The bible is not a history book and is not necessary for it to be so. Those who spend so much time and effort in order to prove the historicity of the Bible are actually missing the point. The Bible is not designed to be history or a scientifically accurate account of how life was or is.
Even today with so much information at hand it is pretty difficult to discern accurate contemporary events. The only true thing that can be said is; “At five pm today there was a car wreck.” But this leaves so much unsaid: Who, what, why, when and where. Some of these questions are easy to answer but the most difficult one is the “Why?” the argument over the why may take you to court. Once things get into court we’ve been told and many times proven eye witness accounts can be highly unreliable as I have found out several times in my driving career.
So how about the recounting of an historical event written down hundreds of years later? This is only talking about the literal or letter of the event. What is the lesson if any or the spirit of the event, what if any is there an application that will stand the test of time generation after generation such as: “Don’t drive drunk!”
That is the power of the Bible and it’s interpretation. this is what accounts for the longevity of the Bible not the “facts” of some historical event.
This is precisely the power and the weakness, it’s subjectivity.
The power and the longevity of the Bible is the result of it’s ability to speak to people in every age, inspiring us how to live and giving hope to the downtrodden of this world. It’s irrelevant how many people crossed the Red Sea/Sea of Reeds, for example to get the point across that it is wrong to hold people in slavery by tyrants in any age. Also the ability of our belief in God to help free us from our personal and national tyrants. We can count on the power of the Divine to take us thru our personal Red Seas as the daemons of addiction chase us. When we are presented with the red herring of the number of people or did the sea actually open up we miss the whole power of the story. Maybe that is why the world hasn’t gotten the message yet. Twenty five hundred years and counting. See Luke 4:18-19. Water in metaphysical terms represents truth so in the escape from Egypt—a destructive habit or tyrannical situation—the daemons that oppressed us are destroyed by the power of the Love of God.
Another example: Take the flood story for instance; There was an historical cataclysm—probably not world wide but that is just my view, catastrophes often feel like the whole world has just been destroyed—of some sort reported in the lore of other cultures, in that cultures language, along with the people of Adams family however the spin put on it by the biblical authors is their interpretation of a catastrophe involving a flood. Notwithstanding their take on the reason for it; i.e., there was so much wickedness in the world that God became disgusted and was sorry He had made the human race and wanted to create Adam/Mankind 2.0. Well that was the ancients view of the whole thing. There may be a moral in the story for some people and if it helps one to live a better life then the story has done its job, but of course you may be looking over your shoulder any time you think you have offended God. If that is the way you think God wants you to live—afraid all the time—it’s a fearful way to live and certainly not what Jesus taught us about God. If God wanted to do a reboot don’t you think He/She would have found a better way? It appears to me we are still in the same quandary of good and evil that has been here since Genesis 3.
A modern equivalent would be Jerry Falwell telling the world that the destruction of New Orleans by the hurricane Katrina and much of the south (collateral damage) was because of the wickedness of that town. Watch your back He’s gonna get ya!!!
Does this mean every single destructive storm was Gods death blow to all those sinners plus a few innocents [oops, sorry there are no innocents if we are all born in sin]; oh well that’s the cost of doing business in that kind of belief system.
Don’t you believe the Bible is the Word of God, divinely inspired? Someone may ask.
Divine inspiration is an a priori assumption we take into our reading of the Bible. The Bible itself has gathered a well deserved aura of holiness—meaning separate or different, set aside for a spiritual purpose—throughout the centuries. Hence, The Holy Bible. Even before we pick up the Bible though, we are confronted by the Title. It is a book of a different nature than many others. But why is it considered “Holy”? I’m not going to recap the doctrines of inspiration just my short version is: When we read it, it’s lessons presented by stories that have helped uncounted numbers of people live a “better” life if applied to the situations we find ourselves in. Just reading the The Ten Commandments, may help the thief stop stealing or an angry person not kill their neighbor. Like I said this is the short version.
Inspiration is not static, it is an ongoing process, open to revisions. An example is Jesus’ version of the Ten Commandments. He changed the entire tenon of the conversation from one of Edict—Thou shalt not…., to Though Shalt…, then turning them into a means of facilitation and encouragement, making ten into two, making them not smaller in importance but more universally applicable. Love God and Love your neighbor for if you don’t love your neighbor how can you say you Love God? The positive action of Love became the way to Eternal Life. “Do this and you will Live…” Live here and now because Loving your neighbor is Life Itself. (See John 1:17) The former was the way of condemnation but the New became a way of liberation and freedom.
There are many such lessons found in it’s pages and as a whole can be quite helpful (Loving). Unfortunately there are many who use these stories as ammunition to destroy others (not loving).
Well thank you for reading this far and please reach out to me if you have any questions or comments.
Excellent! Very well written. I agree with you.