If you start reading, read ’til the end. God forgive my arrogant heart.
Why do we insist, as so many believers do, that the Bible is a static millstone around our necks; a tome of laws and rules that hem us in on all sides? How and when did we decide that the Book of Life, the Word of God, could be reduced to nothing but a book of paltry, sometimes mystical, facts? Facts are nothing. Truth is everything. We have lessened the Book with our definitions of ‘inerrant’ and have made our detractors famous by our weak understanding. The truth about the Truth? It is so much bigger than our human methodology.
We have let the world dictate our understanding of scripture. We are, unwittingly, caught up in the world’s system of proof, causing us to ignore huge swaths of the Bible and biblical scholarship, to cherry-pick; or, perhaps even worse, to focus on minutiae and revel in the tempest we have conjured into the teapot. To do otherwise would cause us us to fall into storms of cognitive dissonance. We can’t accept that we are asking the wrong questions and seeking the wrong answers from the Book, and so, like in many things, we embrace ignorance as a virtue. We learn to despise the thinking person and we hold the feet of the “rebellious” to the fire.
“Stop!'” we say, “Disagreement is sin! Questioning is sin!”
We have become ridiculous in our ‘righteous understanding’ of the Word of God. We have created a controllable Bible with comfortable doctrines that we can easily paste on picket signs and billboards and t-shirts. We have tied the word into knots in order to justify our fears, legitimize our hatreds, and limit our responsibilities. We have consistently ignored the working of the world around us because it doesn’t fit with our hidebound understanding of God’s Book.
This is not a rule book. This is not a map. This is not a user’s manual for life. This is not a book of science.
This is an Oracle.
The Book (from a Christian perspective here, obviously) elevates Christ and asks what you will do with His and His disciples claims that He is God. It’s not even particularly preachy on the point. The Oracle gives us an understanding of who God is through history and chronicles the struggles of His children to understand Him. It is inspired by God, breathed out to His writers, but those writers are still humans, still fallible, THEY MUST BE or the Bible itself loses all meaning! What’s the point of God reaching out to us if He only used perfect writers? What does that teach us? It would teach us that understanding and being part of the community of God requires a special blessing, a secret knowledge. It teaches Gnosticism, and Gnosticism is anti-Christ.
We want to worship and control the Bible so we can be safe and have easy answers, but the Bible itself is abundantly clear, there are no easy answers. That’s why the simplest form and concept in the Book is the most important one, “Come, follow Me.”
I believe that the Bible is the Word of God; His Oracle. I believe that it is not a coincidence that John uses the term Word (logos) for Jesus. The word elevates the Word. I believe that the bible is inerrant in that it is a full of Truths about God and Truths about people struggling to understand and follow Him. I believe that metaphor is the language of the divine and that God intended it for the understanding of man. I believe the Book is living and is the greatest aid to being able to hear God and be led by His Spirit. I believe that, in it’s intent, the Bible is without contradiction, the contradictions we think we see are within our own understanding. I believe that it is authoritative on matters of Truth and that it’s themes set the parameters of our lives.
And most of all, I believe the Bible must be approached with faith, faith that it will change us by introducing us to God Himself. Don’t go in there looking for proof of your religion. Don’t go in there to slice it up and lay it on the altar of the god of scientific and historical proofs. Go in there looking for Truth and Truth will find you…… and set you free.
I often get in trouble with folks who think I am teaching a low version of the Bible. I beg to differ: the idea that the Book is God’s word, greater than our human understanding of inerrancy and interpretation and that it should be treated as such, is a much higher teaching than any literal, gnat straining, rule bound, graceless, loveless and Christ-Blocking understanding of the Bible. Why has it not occurred to us that the leading atheist’s use the same interpretive methods on the Bible as the most ardent fundamentalist?
Set it free….so you can be free.