It has been a while since I have done any “deep” posts so this post will start a series on how I view the Bible and how that might differ from some mainline denominations today. The first two post are about how I personally view the Bible and other related Christian text. The third post is about how some of these belief are contrary to how others, mainly evangelicals, view the Bible. I will finish up with some of the things related to the Bible that I feel are the most misguided and in some ways harmful to bringing other to Jesus.
I apologize in advance for the length of some of these posts. I try to keep all my blog posts below five hundred words or so. I have failed to do that in this series. Before I begin I want to again tell you that I am not trying to prove anyone wrong by this series. I am simply reiterating what I believe. But, I do think I have a slight understanding of what Luther might have felt when he went against the Pope and the Catholic Church. I am just one very small insignificant person who happens to disagree with some pretty big Christian denominations today.
One of the things I have heard frequently from the comments on this blog is that others are relieved to see that they are not the only ones to believe things about current day Christianity. I hope this round of discussions helps some in that regard.
Getting started the statement that gets me in the most trouble with some current day Christian denominations is that I believe that the Bible was written by men for men. I have frequently been verbally chastised for those words. Some seem to even believe that I am not a Christian if I believe these words! But I think the reasoning behind these words have a very sound foundation backed up by the words of Jesus. So let’s start there.
- By Men — The Bible was written by men. In other words the Bible is a human document and is therefore not 100% perfect. Some say that God controlled every word written by the various writers of the contained text. They believe that the writers could not possibly have written even a single word that God did not want them to write. If that is the case then why didn’t God just write the book himself and drop it from heaven. Of course this is what the Mormons believe about the Book of Mormans. I don’t know of a single Christian denomination, outside of them if you consider them Christians, that does not adamantly think that belief is a very false statement. By the same logic I believe that to say that God controlled absolutely every thought of the writers means that he took over their bodies and minds to accomplish that feat. God gave man free will to do and think as they desire; to me that includes even the biblical authors. So the Bible was written by men.
- For Men –– The Bible was written for men. I don’t understand why this statement is controversial in some Christian circles. The Bible was certainly not written for God. He does not need a reminder of who he is. Jesus did not bother to write a book while he was on this earth; he evidently didn’t think that was the best use of his time. Instead he chose to spend his time “showing” us how to live. With maybe the exception of Paul’s letters it was almost 40 years before the authors who ended up in the Bible even started putting down their thoughts. Part of the reason for this was because most of them thought that Jesus was coming back within their lifetimes so a written record of his work was not necessary. When they realized that they had misunderstood the time-frame they penned their various very personal versions of what they believed Jesus intended to teach us. I certainly thank them for not waiting too long to do this. Matthew, John, and Peter (through Mark) were among the select humans that actually lived with Jesus during the three years of his ministry. Their personal and very human insights into the nature of Jesus is invaluable to us today these many centuries later.
- Inspired by God — After the shock is worn off from the first two things I always add but much of it was inspired by God. I’m sure that much of what the writer penned was inspired by God. But again, much of it was also personal words and views of the writers. They might have been very heartfelt words but they were their words. God did not totally control their thought and minds. Having a human aspect to the Bible is one of the things that make it so interesting. To see these very different human views of God helps us to gain insight that just one author might not be able to provide.
2 thoughts on “About The Bible — Part 1… What I believe”
Context is everything! Four portraits written to address important issues at the time of their writing. This comes out in the texts.
Matthew is out to prove that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. (example)
So, some like to focus on the words of Jesus. We have the words and testimonies of Jesus, Orally first and then written down for our edification and instruction. Paul wrote texts first. We know that. The gospels were written later! And those beloved names: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are names assigned to these books. We know they did not write them. The writers wrote from oral accounts much, much later than the actual accounts during different times. So, my friend, context is everything.
Salvation and eternal life is so very important. Right? Why aren’t we given a more definitive “book” – a “how to” book from God? Why so difficult? If the writers are not inspired then how do we know we even have “principles” in the scriptures that will lead us to salvation? Troubling questions. Can we write this off to the sovereignty of God? I think not. Salvation is too important to our eternity. If the followers of Christ hadn’t decided to write down what they saw and heard, how would we have even known that Jesus walked the earth and died on the cross for us? It took them so long to write anything down. Much of their text sources were letters sent between the churches to deal with internal problems at the time.
I hate to think of no morality. I hate to think that men/women might be the supreme beings and not God. We’ve made such a mess of life and the earth. Questions. Good to have friends who seriously examine these things and are honest with their feelings and thoughts. Thanks, RJ.
Thanks again Peppy for your extended comments. I am not really sure if they are offering comments to my text or not but I will make some observations on your words.
Yes, most of the text in the Bible probably started out with an oral testimony. Since it is speculated that all of the apostles, with maybe the exception of Matthew, were illiterate that would only make sense. But as the apostles grew in prominence I’m sure they had scribes to write down the stories and messages they wanted to convey. It is generally recognized that Mark was a scribe for Peter and the Gospels of Matthew and John were from the corresponding apostles or probably from their scribes. Maybe I give more credence to these beliefs than you do? The only gospel account that is not recognized as being from an apostle who sat at Jesus’ feet was Luke. It seems that he probably had multiple sources for his gospel. I consider him somewhat like an investigative reporter in today’s world. He was just trying to gather what info he could from the sources available.
When you say context is everything I agree with you if you are thereby insinuating that the messages of the Bible were written with first century eyes and for certain purposes. I have not yet tried to post on the specific reasons for the gospels. I may do that in the future or may not.
I certainly am not saying that the authors of biblical text were not inspired by God so therefore we have to write off God’s sovereignty. God does not need us to affirm his sovereignty via the Bible or any other means! As God said “I am what I am” It is not up to us to define him. I am totally convinced that there is a morality given to each of us from God. The Quakers call that “the light within”.
The one thing in your comments that really drew my attention was that “some like to focus on the words of Jesus”. If being a Christian means being a follower of Jesus Christ then anyone who calls himself a Christian must put Jesus (and his words) front and center. To say that a Christian can choose not to focus on Jesus’ words seems to me to be like saying “I choose not to breath”. Life as a Christian is not possible without either of these things.
But maybe, being a disciple of Jesus Christ and being a Christian are two different things in todays world? If they are I will readily give up my “Christian” label for being a disciple.