Taking Back the Bible….

I read the Bible on a regular basis.  The words of Jesus, which to me is what the Bible is really all about, inspire me to love my fellow-man and to love my God.  Many stories in the Bible  even though they might just be stories, parables, or even myths are inspiring in the lessons they teach. I delight in the sheer narrative power they provide.

I am very disheartened by the fact that some Christians today try to demand that the Bible was dropped down from heaven by God and not truly written my men who lived in the early times.  They say instead he just used their pens to write what he demanded of them. I think the Bible is richer when we admit that it was written by men inspired by God. But no, they say everything in the Bible is directly from God’s lips?

Here are some interesting words about that from the book The Future of Faith by Harvey Cox

Does it ever trouble fundamentalists that their attitude toward the Bible, a relatively recent one in the history of Christianity, is exactly the same as that of most Muslims who believe the Qur’an was dictated word for word to Muhammad by Allah? I doubt it…..

I am confident that it is possible to take the Bible back from its fundamentalist hijacking and make it once again a genuine support of faith, instead of an obstacle. To do this, it is helpful to know something about how we got into the impasse in which we find ourselves. There are four significant turning points in the recent history of how Christians have viewed the Bible.

      • One came in the late fifteenth century when the invention of printing made the wide distribution of the Bible possible and then—with the spread of literacy—eventually democratized it.
      • The second came in the nineteenth century with the application of the historical-critical method, which subjected the Bible to the same scrupulous scholarship about dating, authorship, and audience that is applied to any other historical document.
      • The third was the advent of the fundamentalist view of the Bible, which rose as a counterattack against the historical critics.
      • The fourth was the “liberation” of the Bible from both historical critics and fundamentalists, which is happening mainly—though not exclusively—in the global South.

The way to read them is to let their sheer narrative power evoke whatever response it can without relying on an externally decreed authority to either sanctify their status or pick apart their accuracy. Reading the Bible with this kind of imaginative leap puts us into the company of our spiritual forebears.

It is interesting to see the four turning points outlined here. I need to study and report some more details about the third event when the so-called fundamentalists among us decided to change the Bible from inspirational text into literal truth. As said above they did this when they were backed into a corner by the historical-critical method.  They panicked and proclaimed a slippery slope that if we questioned anything in the Bible then all of it becomes worthless.

I personally have had a lengthy discussion with one fundamentalist preacher about this. His willingness to throw out the Bible if any of it is not perfectly factual surprised me. In some ways I think I deem the Bible to be worth more than he does. But, more about that in some later posts. The fourth turning point is part of the emergent church that we will also get more into in future posts.

About the Bible

Source: http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/05/19/6677671-is-the-bible-full-of-forgeries

Just a short note to refer you to the article above. It is about the Bible and how it was written. For those who think the Bible is 100% from God this article will probably be somewhat disturbing. The article reports that through the ages many believe that most of the books of the Bible were probably not actually written by those whose names are attached to them. By providing you with this source article it is not my intent to get into a theological debate about the subject.

My purpose for mentioning this subject goes to the quote below by the Catholic News Service:

The Catholic News Service’s Agostino Bono makes a similar point: “Even if a specific letter was not done by Peter or Paul, it could well have been written by someone drawing from the oral tradition passed down by one or the other,” he writes.

So it appears that my beliefs that the Bible was written by men who many times got their info from oral traditions that may have been passed down from generation to generation before put in ink.  For me this doesn’t take away from the value of the Bible as a man-made document but for those who hold the literal and inerrant belief making the Bible a second, or third, or even fourth hand account is probably threatening indeed.

As I always say the Bible is not God; it is about God. Keep your eyes on Jesus and let the Bible be what it is.

About the Bible – Part 6 Closing Thoughts…

This series was about looking at the Bible as a human document. That is, it was written and assembled by humans with different life experiences, viewpoints, and passions.  Much of their thoughts and words obviously came from inspiration from God. When I study the Bible I try to understand the reasons why some of the writers might have penned what they did.  Of course, I am also a human who has had unique life experiences and passions, part of which surely shaped by what I have studied. What I have said in this series is of my own understanding. But, what I have studied also very likely leaked through in some cases. If I failed to give some credit during these and other posts I apologize.

When we view the Bible as a document written by humans who were to one degree or another inspired by God it takes on a unique shape and understanding.  Those who insist that the Bible was, more or less, dropped down from heaven by God himself deprive themselves of this valuable view.  Understanding the background and circumstances of the writers helps us to gain a better understand the meanings behind their words. Every word in the Bible was not intended to be taken literally for all the ages. Much of what was written must be understood with first century eyes and then translated into twenty-first century circumstances where appropriate.

I will finish this series by saying again that I am not a trained theologian; I am just a simple guy who has studied the Bible and other related documents and come to some personal understanding about them. One thing I avoid in my posts, and I think I did a pretty good job here, is “theologian speak”. There seems to be a complex multisyllabic word to tag almost all studies of the bible. Although I am familiar with some of them I try to avoid them in my posts.

I hope this round of posts had at least a small amount of value for some of you.

May all the glory go to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Don’t lose your focus on him and him alone.