For the next three Sundays I want to bring over some slightly edited posts of things I discovered about the Bible while blogging at RedLetterLiving.net. These posts were from early 2014 but my feelings about the topic really haven’t changed all that much.
I have been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about the Bible and my experiences with it over the last decade or so. Around 2003 I decided to take up a serious study of theology and in particularly those around the words of Jesus. I naively thought I could get some clear directions for my spiritual life if I just understood why the Bible seems to mean so many different things to so many people. What I have discovered over this period of time awakened me. I did not get the concrete answers I was looking for but I did glean some surprising discoveries.
It seems that as I have gotten older I am losing my sense of embarrassment about saying what I believe. I have grown to the point, and I do mean grown, where I feel I can now openly discuss the personal insight I have come to understand. I simply no longer really care if it upsets some. Maybe in the long run I am hoping that it does just that and as a result a few will see that truly following Jesus has nothing to do with their self-proclaimed “faith” in the Bible but instead it is about faith in him and doing what he told us to do.
Let’s face it the Bible is not a book that you can causally, or even seriously, pick up and glean some ready-made answers to life’s problems. Especially in times of personal conflicts. In fact much of it (meaning the Old Testament) is quite boring and not understandable in today’s context. Yes, if I search hard enough I can find a verse, usually taken out of context, that might console me a particular situation but for every one of those found there is another which disturbs me. Psalms is a ready example of that. There are places where God’s love clearly shows through and then there are other places where is he supposedly commands genocide such as the 137th Psalm.
All of these conflicting stories and thoughts make some degree of sense when I see the Bible as more of a history book written by man rather than words dropped from heaven. Christianity like much of the world’s history is messy and the Bible if you look at its contents objectively reflects that fact. That understanding is critical to finding its proper place in Christ’s church.
In a nutshell, following Jesus has nothing to do with idolizing the Bible itself. The purpose of the Bible it to point us to Jesus. It is to tell his story, nothing else. When that task is done it becomes very secondary to our walk with Christ. Next time I will talk a little more about reading the Bible and what should be gleaned from that process.
Epilog September 2017: I have discovered since this post that Biblical Inerrancy is pretty much a Protestant/Evangelical thing. Catholics have been moving away from the concept for much of the last century.