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the Bible to the same scrupulous scholarship about dating, authorship, and audience that is applied to any other historical document.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.