If you were the god of the universe, and you wanted to write a book to inspire people to come to you to devote their love and adoration, what would your work look like?
Many people claim to believe the bible. Just today, Marco Rubio was quoted as saying about the bible, “The answer to every question you’ll ever have is in that book.”
What exactly do people mean when they say they believe the bible?
Here is what one Full-Gospel church says they believe about the bible:
We accept the Bible as God’s authoritative Word. God moved by his awesome power of the Holy Spirit enabling man to write the inerrant, infallible truth of God for all mankind.
Here’s an even more extreme version from another random church I found:
We Believe and accept the Holy Bible, including the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, to be the inspired, complete, infallible and inerrant Word of God, such that, to disbelieve or disobey any word of scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. God’s Word is itself truth and, in the original manuscripts, does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. Its teachings are clear and able to be understood through proper exegesis and hermeneutics. The Scriptures must be understood in their original historical, grammatical, and literary context. The Scriptures are necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing god’s will and contain everything that God intended His people to know. The Scriptures are, therefore, the only infallibly authoritative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice, and doctrine. We believe the Bible is God’s revelation of the history of the universe and answers life’s questions of where did we come from, where are we going, and what is the purpose of living.
In spite of the fact that we don’t actually have any of the original manuscripts, there are lots of Christians that would agree with both of those statements of belief at least in part, if not in whole. Not every Christian, mind you – but a significant number. For those that do agree, I feel I have to conclude it’s because they haven’t actually read it or at least, not much of it.
In my experience, the average Christian doesn’t read the bible all that much. Those that do tend to stick with the New Testament. They’re either ignorant about the truly nasty stuff in the Old Testament or they dismiss the entire collection of books by saying: “That’s been fulfilled by Jesus”.
Like watching a back-n-forth tennis match, that same Christian will run to the book of Leviticus to argue the evils of homosexuality. But they’ll dismiss the verse about a rabbit chewing its cud because, well … rabbits don’t. They’ll keep the 10 Commandments cuz Jesus said so but the rapist having to marry his victim as a punishment? That’s just so wrong and a sign of the times.
Wait… what? The Old Testament says that a rapist must marry his victim? And Jesus … um… “fulfilled” that? How? When? Damn, man!
Clearly, Jesus didn’t dismiss the Old Testament when he said,
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).
And then there’s that whole “jot and tittle” thing.
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18)
Jesus didn’t dismiss the Law of Moses. We still gotta abide by the big 10. But why if he fulfilled it? Why the 10 commandments but not the part about mixing wool and linen? This whole topic becomes a sticky wicket with people who love to debate.
“If you go back to the Greek…” they say.
“If you read that verse in the original Hebrew language…”
“When you understand Mosaic Law…”
“When you understand the culture….”
“You gotta take it all in context…”
and on and on and on and ON … till you wanna kick a goat. (I’m an animal lover. I do not kick goats.)
I appreciate knowledge. I’m a curious researcher myself and I believe in doing the hard work to get to the truth. I revere the snot out of experts in biblical exegesis, especially since I saw my husband through YEARS of seminary all the way to his PhD.
But here’s the thing: My younger self was a simple Christian girl pining after the heart of her heavenly father. The god who “knew her in her mother’s womb”. The god who promised to meet her where she was even if that girl was simple, and unable to read Greek or Hebrew. And that girl wondered… Why did god dick around with this book and make it so confoundedly confusing, convoluted, complicated and … well … Crappy? (She wouldn’t have said ‘dick’. She was a good Christian.)
Yes… my younger, less informed self had a simplistic view: The great god of the universe who made a man out of dust and a woman out of a rib, the all-knowing, omnipresent god who hangs a planet on nothing and a star on a cloud, the god who can make a virgin pregnant and bring a dead man back to life … THAT god can’t write a clear and simple book?!
Why not? Dr. Suess did it all the time!
Is she wrong? Was it really not possible for god using the men of old as scribes to write a clear message that would work for all time and for even the simple…like me? A word that would not confine and bind but rather, set people truly free?
For those who believe the book was inspired, actually reading it will likely be a real shocker. Start from Genesis and take a left at Numbers if you don’t believe me. By the time you get there, it’s already a complete mind f–k.
Consider this: God commanded Moses‘ army to murder all the Midianites but keep the virgins for themselves as booty. He INSPIRED that juicy tidbit right into his infallible, inerrant “love letter” to his people.
God commanded the death of the unborn babies of those who did not worship him in the book of Hosea. He INSPIRED the writer to document that atrocity.
God breathed into being the part where his wrath included slaughtering babies and raping women as found in Isaiah. THAT was something he wanted his children to know for all time. As a ‘road map’ to the Christian life. THAT is god-breathed. THAT was INSPIRED.
To quote my friend Inigo Mantoya …
I’ve read the book, cover to cover, more than once and I’m glad I did. Christian claims about the book just don’t add up to what’s actually in there. It’s not a road map for the Christian life. It’s a roadmap to subjugation and bondage. And if god is the same “yesterday, today and forever,” then the god in the Old Testament who rapes and plunders is the same god as the one in the new who ‘saves by grace’.
Do you think Marco Rubio really believes that the bible has the answers to any question you could ask? I suspect he was saying what he thinks the majority of Christians want to hear. I wonder, do the majority of Christians actually believe that? I sure hope not.