A member of the audience recently asked the Republican presidential candidates if they believed every word of the Bible. I ponder my own response to such a question. At first blush I am inclined to view such a question as very similar to the one which goes like this: Do you still beat your wife? How does one give a reasoned response to this query? A “yes” or “no” answer is just not adequate. One can always blindly affirm faith in the scriptures, but a much more meaningful question would be: “What do you think the Bible teaches us?”
Many folks would probably admit like I do that there is much of the Bible they do not understand or have never even read except perhaps superficially. How can one claim to believe what they have not read or having read cannot not comprehend or explain? The “by faith” folks may proclaim they believe just because it’s between the covers, but can that belief be meaningful if they do not understand and therefore cannot apply what they claim to believe?
Is the entire Bible to be believed? Believed in what sense; as historical fact? Could some of it possibly be intended as instructional apart from historical fact? In other words, is it partially metaphorical? Portions of scripture are undeniably so. What does it mean to believe a metaphor?
When the serpent told Eve that if she ate she would not die, am I supposed to believe his words? When Jesus told the woman of Canaan (Matt 15:24) that he was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of
Is everything in the Bible true for time and all people? Wasn’t the old Covenant given exclusively to
All this also completely ignores the questions of canonization, translation, and distribution. To believe every word in the Bible, in any sense whatsoever, is to affirm the sanctity of these processes despite the fact that they were overseen by mere men like you and me. One can assume that all that happened under the guiding hand of
The very framing of this question indicates so much that is dreadfully wrong with so called orthodox Christianity. Under such a paradigm, the measure of an individual and his or her worth is a function of how closely they adhere to the religious traditions and teachings. Too often such orthodoxy sets itself up as the judge and does so through the exercise of dogmatic, unreasoned confrontation. Such activity smacks of egotism and self-righteousness in contradistinction to the spirit and message of Christ. We all need to be acutely aware that redemption is a work of God in Christ and not a mark of one man’s moral, ethical, spiritual, political, or intellectual superiority relative to anyone else. Christ did not die, so I can judge you or vice versa. Christ died to end condemnation. Let’s not revive what Christ terminated.