Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the bible and what we make of it

6/7/16

 

It is apparent that in the minds of many what the Bible says is all that matters to them. If they can find one verse to support their opinion, then that settles everything. The rest of the world is therefore obliged to accept and believe whatever the book says, regardless of how they may feel about it. This has always been the attitude of the church. Of course, they claim the exclusive role of interpreting the divine revelation, so what the Bible says is really what the church says it says. 

 

In this fashion the Bible has historically been used as a bludgeon to whip people into conformance with whatever prevailing societal norm the church espoused at the moment. Thus in numerous instances the church and its Bible have been used as the justification for what we later have come to seriously consider as unethical if not downright horrible.

 

It's really strange to the extreme to teach that every man must accept and embrace things in a book which he finds repugnant and bizarre. Can anyone be made to believe something they inherently don't agree with, like one nation being favored over another by a god or that god inciting genocides. How is the Bible supposed to force that transformation of the heart and mind? Is it designed to explain in understandable terms why and how these objectionable stories are actually full of divine wisdom and purpose, or is it just intended to scare people into compliance with the unfathomable by the threat of hellfire. In my experience the church is much, much better at intimidating with threats than it ever was in explaining God and his workings in clear English.

 

Everyone remains free to make of the Bible what they will. For some that acceptance requires nothing more than the weight of church history and tradition. Others believe in the book because they see something miraculous in its nature, maybe pointing to its portrayal of prophetic fulfillment.

 

No matter the reason for a professed faith in the Word, we all, with few exceptions, pay scant attention to much of the book. This is largely because it is so big and puzzling in many places. Additionally, some parts of the Bible serve much better than others to support what each person is already conditioned to believe. Therefore we all gravitate to the portions of scripture which are most familiar and to those which make us feel secure and comfortable in justifying our existing attitude and conduct.

 

Without a doubt the Bible is an important book, one which has had an inestimable influence over our country and western civilization as a whole. That very fact makes it significant to us, in fact essential, in understanding our history, culture, and institutions. Nevertheless, it is not reasonable to expect that everyone approach the book unquestioningly and accept institutional Christianity's view and interpretation thereof.

 

It is inherently impossible for one to make a conscious decision to embrace what is anathema without first being convinced by rational argument that one's previous objections were unfounded. Insisting that the Bible is unquestionable no matter what it says or portrays as divine is not the way to persuade people who recoil from some of its questionable stories. Why should anyone meekly submit to such a cavalier response to honest questions about God and the church's interpretation of its book.

 

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