Five Reasons Saying “The Bible Clearly States” is Dangerous (and Un-Christian)

Five Reasons Saying “The Bible Clearly States” is Dangerous (and Un-Christian) March 3, 2015

Most of my life, I’ve heard people preface some sort of argument they want to support with the preface, “The Bible clearly states…” I’ve come to believe, 5503071187_894699a090_zhowever, that this is a phrase Christians should eliminate from their vocabulary, for a number of reasons:

  1. There’s no such thing as un-interpreted scripture – Legendary preacher and theologian Fred Craddock famously noted that, even if one believes the Bible is inerrant, perfect or directly handed to humanity from God, there’s still no way to glean an absolute understanding from the texts. After all, we all are imperfect, and as such all that we perceive flows through this imperfect vessel. The good news is that the bible is full of imperfect vessels still being used for incredible good. So maybe rather than an absolute’s we’re meant to focus more on growth, improvement and restoration.
  2. We can use the Bible to make nearly any claim we want – Did you know “the Bible says” that if my man-jewels are squished irreparably for any reason, I’m barred from heaven (No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. Deut. 23:1 ESV)? And have you considered that the Bible condones mass killing, or what some might consider genocide (Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB), or even infanticide (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT.) I can use the Bible to justify slavery (wouldn’t be the first time), keeping a sexual concubine, or why eating shrimp condemns me to hell.
  3. I’ve never met ANYONE in my life who follows the Bible completely, from beginning to end – I could swear the protesters from Westboro Baptist wear shirts that are a poly-cotton blend, and that some of the fiercest Bible-bangers out there enjoy a good shrimp cocktail from time to time.
  4. Yes, there are contradictions in scripture – From the first book in the Bible, and even in the very first pages, there are two accounts of the creation of the universe. In one account, humans are created all at once (assuming men and women both, unless the people were intersex, self-propagating creatures who later split into two sexes.  Then in the more well-known story, in which the main characters are Adam (which actually means “human”) and Eve (which actually means “life”)  has Adam created first, then Eve is the runner-up. There are accounts of God changing God’s mind (Nineveh any one?) which would be unnecessary if the relationship with God was absolute. And let’s not even get into “eye for an eye,” versus “turn the other cheek,” and all of the Torah laws Jesus violated. which leads me to another point…
  5. Jesus was not a scripture literalist – If he was, he would never have said things like, “the law (in the Bible) says, but I say…”. If it was absolute, immutable and perfect (especially once in the hands of Humans – see point one above), then he would have just referred folks back to what already was on the books. It also would have been unnecessary for him to speak in open-ended parables and ask people who they said he was. After all, that leaves all kinds of space wide open for personal interpretation, which varied widely even hen it came to Jesus’ followers, about who he was.

Humanity, and our spiritual growth (however you may understand or define that), is an ongoing work-in-progress. Especially if we consider scripture as a point of reference or example. Humanity changes and grows, just as our understanding of God and the importance of written law (Torah, the Bible, etc) changes, particularly who consider the authority of Jesus and his claims about scripture as essential.

For far too long, we’ve used the Bible to condemn, judge, feel superior to, or even wreak systemic injustice and violence on our brothers and sisters. And again, if we hold up Jesus and his claims as central to our faith as Christians, then the most important path or guide – the one on which everything else depends and gets it’s context and meaning – is that complete, consuming, sacrificial, at-all-costs love of God, ourselves and all of humanity and creation comes first. Period. Always.

And you’re certainly within your right to disagree. However the ironic part is by not living in this way, you’ve already co-opted the Gospel for a personal agenda, rather than living out “what the Bible clearly states.”

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • BrotherRog

    Excellent piece. It’s important for Christians to take the Bible seriously, without taking all of it literally. See “16 Ways Progressive Christians Interpret the Bible”
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogerwolsey/2014/01/16-ways-progressive-christians-interpret-the-bible/

    • WeldonScott

      Why even take it seriously? It’s just a collection of rather poorly written iron-age Jewish fiction.

      • Christian Piatt

        Weldon: funny, but those who actively go out of their way to denigrate the faith of others on my blog usually say it’s Bronze-age fiction.

        • WeldonScott

          Denigrating the faith of others is another man’s Great Commission.

          • BrotherRog

            I can’t take anyone seriously who says such overstated and juvenile things about the Bible. I don’t revere it or worship it, but academics through-out history have spoken well of poetry and beauty of many passages within the Bible.

          • WeldonScott

            There is a paucity of “beautiful passages,” one does better with many other choices. Most of it is as boring as the telephone book, much of it morally nauseating. But yeah, I understand the academics and preachers who make a living off it, like the silversmiths of Ephesus who spoke well of Diana. Same scam. Money, Power, and Social Status.

          • rvs

            Martin Luther King Jr. — a Baptist minister — was a scam artist? I never knew that. I wish I was as smart as you, Weldon.

          • WeldonScott

            Do you really fall for the 3000 year old fear-insurance scam, to be “saved” from the scary underworld of Zeus’ brother Hades?

            […] they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.

            Plato (4th century BCE) The Republic. Book II.
            classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html

          • rvs

            I repeat: you think Martin Luther King Jr. was a shyster?

          • WeldonScott

            I repeat, do you really fall for the 3000 year old fear insurance scam?

          • rvs

            I said nothing about fearing hell. I don’t believe I said a single word about my own views on salvation. But you said preachers and academics were scam artists. Focus, Weldon.

          • WeldonScott

            I said nothing about MLK. Focus, rvs.

            And perhaps you can brush up on what is in the Bible.

            Matthew 10:28 Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

            Luke 12:5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

          • rvs

            “I understand the academics and preachers who make a living off it, like the silversmiths of Ephesus who spoke well of Diana. Same scam. Money, Power, and Social Status.” MLK was a preacher, ergo…

          • WeldonScott

            Are you aware that the Jesus character talks of fear of “hell?” (at least in the translations that use the scary Norse underworld of Loki’s half-dead daughter Hell.)

          • rvs

            The Greek word is Gehenna, which was a specific place where refuse was burned and executed criminals’ bodies disposed of. Nasty place. Just how he intended the threat to be taken is uncertain, as far as I’m concerned. Besides, what does that have to do with MLK or preacher scam artists?

          • WeldonScott

            The Greek mythological underworlds of Hades and Tartarus are mentioned too. Whatever the threat, it was meant to invoke fear, and then the Jesus character offered his scam of fear-insurance to alleviate such fear.

            > Besides, what does that have to do with MLK

            You’re the one feverishly obsessed with MLK, invoking him at every step; feel free to answer your own query. Or do you baffle yourself with your inanities as much as the rest of us?

          • rvs

            You’re the one who said preachers and academics are scam artists. All I asked is if one particular preacher — Martin Luther King Jr. — was a scam artist too. I don’t see how that’s inane. You seem to feverishly obsessed with Hell yourself.

          • WeldonScott

            And I addressed the scam. See if you can do that. And it was Jesus (and other NT writers) obsessed about “Hell,” not I.

          • rvs

            Well, I’m a universalist, so I frankly have no interest in addressing a scam that I don’t believe in. That’s your “Great Commission.” Good luck with that. Why so afraid to call MLK a scam artist, BTW? He was a Christian preacher. I’ll bet that as a Baptist he even preached hell. If you’re going to have convictions, follow them through to their logical conclusion.

          • WeldonScott

            Still obsessed with MLK? Keep banging away at that, if you enjoy it.

            And if you personally don’t believe in the Jesus “fear Hell” scam, bully for you; I don’t either. I do give weight the eye-witness accounts recorded from his family’s opinion of him—that he was insane, offering little more than fear and hate and supernatural snake-oil.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxdlEehy72Y

          • rvs

            “insane” … lol. I thought you were a serious commenter until that. You almost had me.

          • WeldonScott

            It’s straight from the Bible; are you saying the Bible isn’t serious?

          • Julie

            You’re completely ignoring the glaringly obvious hyperbole.

          • WeldonScott

            Your post hoc rationalization is an attempt to sugar coat embarrassing passages.

          • Joshua Frye

            It’s not an embarrassing passage. It may be hard to understand, but hardly embarrassing (see explanation above)

          • WeldonScott

            If you’re not embarrassed by your dear leader’s appeal to hatred, then that speaks of your mindset.

          • David W

            We all have different sources of information that we are considering/consulting. Just the other day I was reading how 4 different words are used (in Greek) for “love” that all have different meanings; so too does “hate” have multiple meanings. The “hate” you are referring to simply means that people are to put compassion for “the least of these” over simple bloodline affection.

          • WeldonScott

            Actually, the word hate means hate. Look it up in a concordance.

          • Mark

            Going back to BrotherRog’s comment, he stated that Christians should take the Bible seriously. He made no mention of non-christians, which I’m willing to go out on a short limb and assume you are; nor did he state we should take the Bible literally, which was the premise of this blog. In short, nobody’s asking you to take the Bible literally or seriously.

          • WeldonScott

            Just because you take it seriously doesn’t mean it’s not a bunch of fiction.

          • Mark

            Well, it isn’t a book, as such. As a collection of books and letters, I agree there is a certain amount of myth. But I would never broad brush it as fiction, and even the parts I don’t take literally I still find find meaningful. I don’t need to take it literally in order to take it seriously.

          • WeldonScott

            Then you keep taking deliberate frauds seriously.

            “There were a lot of people in the ancient world who thought that lying could serve a greater good,” says Ehrman, an expert on ancient biblical manuscripts.

            Half of New Testament forged, Bible scholar says
            By John Blake, CNN, May 13th, 2011
            religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/13/half-of-new-testament-forged-bible-scholar-says/

            ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XyZLD0lbL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

          • Joshua Frye

            It’s true the message is hard to understand, but you are misrepresenting it. Jesus is saying something here for shock value which he explains further with a parable, the basic message being “being a disciple has a hard cost, will take you away from your families. You have to love me more than the life you wanted, you have to love me more than your families or even your own life.” He is, in a sense, revealing that their discipleship will end in their deaths. What he is saying has to be taken in context of parables and passages that come DIRECTLY AFTER IT.

          • WeldonScott

            I’m not misinterpreting it. You’re whitewashing it.

          • WeldonScott

            P.S. I consider being a universalist admirable; hell is an immoral dogma. But without it, there is nothing to fear, and negates the Jesus’ character’s message.

          • Julie

            Negates Jesus’ message? The message is that something has happened (i.e. resurrection of Jesus) and something will happen (i.e. God will renew all things) and because of that, people can live with a wonderful expectancy that changes their lives for the better.

          • WeldonScott

            I’ll pass. That “wonderful expectancy” of a make-believe afterlife requires hatred of life, and that’s totally insane. Of course, Jesus really was insane, if eyewitness accounts of those closest to him are accurate.

            • Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.
            • John 12:25 anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life

            So I reject the Jesus character’s message, and accept what he condemned, i.e., loving life in an Epicurean manner.

            Ecclesiastes’ Epicurean Ceterum censeo that nought is good for man but eating, and drinking, and pleasure (8:15, 2:24, 5:18, cf. 3:12) is condemned by Jesus (Luke 12:20) in a section which contains several allusions to the Book of Ecclesiastes (cf. Luke 12:18, and Eccl. 2:4; Luke 12:20b and Eccl 2:18b, and above all, Luke 12:27 = Matt. 6:29 (Solomon in all his glory.)[…]

            Paul Haupt (1905) The Book of Ecclesiastes: A New Metrical Translation (with an introduction and explanatory notes). Baltimore: John Hopkins Press. p.6.
            books.google.com/books/about/The_Book_of_Ecclesiastes.html?id=DYIwAQAAMAAJ

          • Julie

            Requires hatred of life? On the contrary, believers recognize the great gift of life. And your interpretation of Jesus’ words lacks understanding of common Hebraic use of hyperbole.

          • WeldonScott

            “Hyperbole” is more ad hoc excuse-making of a reprehensible passage.

          • Julie

            Wrong. It’s approaching this literature in an honest manner.

          • WeldonScott

            Honest? No. Post hoc rationalization, yes.

          • Joshua Frye

            I sincerely hope nobody has to go there too, Weldon. That might not be the case, however. As a Christian my belief is that such a place exists and that people choose it. PS – Showing pictures of books doesn’t make your arguments true.

          • WeldonScott

            Believing in a scary underworld of Zeus’ brother Hades doesn’t make it true; it’s just make-believe. And we know there is no such place beneath our feet, because the world is round. You’re still operating within a flat-earth cosmology if you believe in the mythical “Hades/Hell/Tartarus.”

          • Joshua Frye

            Is that so!!?? lol, well…. just like you I can show you a picture of a book about it lmao…… In all seriousness, I understand that it is my belief, but is it your belief that similar imagery stretched throughout multiple cultures is more likely to discount that belief, or promote it?

          • WeldonScott

            Flat earth cosmology (with heaven “above” and hell/hades “below”) was believed throughout multiple cultures, and you think that makes it true? Are you kidding me?

            eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/55000/55418/AS17-148-22727_lrg.jpg

          • Joshua Frye

            Oooh. I can provide links to stuff!

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

          • WeldonScott

            Goes to show how very unscholarly Bible authors were, since their language is that of a flat-earth, which the uneducated masses believed in until the times of Columbus and Magellan.

            A similar parallel is widespread belief in creation, in spite of the factual evidence of evolution.

          • Calling foul on the ‘unscholarly’ Bible authors assertion! They were writing with the best ‘knowledge’ they had at the time. No doubt they were just as intelligent, questioning and, yes, scholarly, as we are today when we think about such things. The educated people also believed in flat-earth up until Columbus and Magellan, not just the ‘masses’. Please let’s not look down on these people; they were doing the best they could, in as scholarly a manner as they could.

          • WeldonScott

            Pythagoras had the earth figured for round 500 BCE. And we still have creationists today who deny the factual evidence right in front of their noses. No, believers are not doing the best they can; they’re quite anti-intellectual.

            Jesus even bragged about being anti-intellectual, and so did Paul.

          • That’s not what I meant. My comment was limited to the scholarliness (or otherwise) of the ancients – and even the ‘mediaevals’. And sure, Pythagoras knew about the globe, but this knowledge was not necessarily widely disseminated outside of his locality. What I mean is let’s give credit to people in those days; they weren’t as thick as we ‘moderns’ like to snobbishly think 🙂 The relevance to religious belief was not intended to be part of my cry of ‘foul!’, just the intellectual side of things.

          • What’s wrong with the Circle of the Earth? It IS round! Your ‘blue marble’ photo below shows this clearly!

          • WeldonScott

            A flat circle isn’t a sphere. Keep showing how ignorant you are of ancient cosmology. Even fundamentalist believers recognize the Bible teaches a flat earth cosmology, which you admitted in your last post. Keep grasping for straws.

          • It is clear to me from both this and your other comments on this thread that you are not interested in a reasoned debate; rather it appears to me that you are simply trolling. I’m taking no further part in this discussion with you.

          • WeldonScott

            It’s clear you’re not interested in a reasoned debate, troll-boi. Run away if you want, you’re getting hammered anyway. It’s well documented that the Bible expounds a flat-earth cosmology.

            Robert J. Schadewald (1987) The Flat-Earth Bible. The Bulletin of the Tychonian Society. #44.
            http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/febible.htm

          • WeldonScott

            You try to have it both ways: first, saying Pythagoras’ discovery was not promulgated properly; then trying to imply that it was well know. Reasoned from you? Hardly. So run off, you’ve been had.

          • Joshua Frye

            Weldon, “the Jesus Character” is as childish a thing to say as the Christopher Columbus character. These people existed and there are many texts supporting it, from different sources, most of which were incorporated into the bible and written relatively close to the life of Jesus. Just as with the Analects of Confucius, which took 30-50 years of time to write, we see written works about Jesus cropping up as soon as 20-30 years after Jesus death. That should be considered quick in ancient times. Jesus … should be… one of the most accurate individuals in recorded history.

          • WeldonScott

            Actually, there is an 80% chance that Jesus didn’t exist when historically analyzed using Bayes’ Theorem.

            On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt
            Richard Carrier
            sheffieldphoenix.com/showbook.asp?bkid=264

            So rather, it’s childish to imagine you have an imaginary friend, like Santa Claus.

            And that is exactly what the Jesus character wanted followers to do: deliberately retard your intellect to child-like credulity, to become Santa Claus eligible, instead of using your adult thinking skills.

            LK 18.17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

            MT 11.25 At that time Jesus said, I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

          • Joshua Frye

            Laugh. Bayes Theorem was also used to prove Jesus existence and resurrection. It’s not a good tool for history. Math cannot be applied to everything in life.

          • WeldonScott

            Craig’s Calamitous Cock-Up on Baye’s Theorem is laughable.

            > Math cannot be applied to everything in life.

            I thought you just said it proved your magical beliefs. LOL Decide which way you’re going to go, and at least keep a consistency for one paragraph, ok?

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Rz9J6qXIzc

          • Joshua Frye

            Where did I use a formula which proved my magical beliefs? That would be magic, indeed! I simply stated that historical documents concerning Jesus and his life cropped up quickly after his death and help support the accuracy of those works and his existence. Bayes Theorem…. SPECIFICALLY, does not seem to apply well to history.

          • WeldonScott

            > Bayes Theorem…. SPECIFICALLY, does not seem to apply well to history.

            Your childish dismissal is childish. Bayes’ Theorem is about probability, and so is the study of history, some events (Revolutionary War) are more probable than others (chopping down a cherry tree.)

            You don’t like Baye’s Theorem (unless Craig is using it, apparently, LOL) because it disproves the validity of your make-believe. And your belief system is make-believe; Bible says so.

            Hebrews 11:6 must believe
            James 1:6 you must believe
            1 John 3:23 we must believe
            Mark 11:23 you must really believe
            John 14:1 believe…believe
            John 14:11 believe me
            Colossians 1:23 you must continue to believe
            1 Thessalonians we believe…we believe
            2 Timothy 3:14 you must cling to the things which you have learnt and have been taught to believe

          • Joshua Frye

            Specifically, Weldon; Bayes theorem assumes in your video that all Resurrection claims are equal. There are clearly more evidence for some than others and what is accepted as evidence differs. Obviously we don’t have a video of the event, we didn’t experience it… but the evidence is eye witness. Disagreeing on this point makes the whole equation different. So, Bayes Theorem doesn’t apply to people like you, who deny eyewitness account and written testimony. People like you believe that the apostles/disciples were all willing to undergo torturous, horrible deaths without turning their back on Christ based on a lie. I don’t believe that. Where you start the argument with Bayes Theorem matters.

          • WeldonScott

            > clearly more evidence

            Bring it.

            Oh wait, there is no evidence, hence the need for faith.

  • Completely agree. Years ago I was guilty of saying those words and now I roll my eyes when I hear them.

  • Deborah Kauffman

    Good post. Many years ago as a newly born again Jesus freak, I was guilty of saying: “The bible said it, I believe it, that settles it”. I’m happy to say that I have lost my arrogance.

    • Banter Squad

      Some might say you have lost your humility 😉 oooh banter

      • BosqueNorse

        And may I ask what you are inferring here?

    • Jordan Wilson

      So now what settles it? Your opinion?

  • Doug Tozier

    What good is a religion if the book from which it spawned isn’t perfect? Shouldn’t truth and accuracy go hand in hand? Sounds like reason is more important than anything else (including faith). That would be Deism, not Christianity.

    • Christian Piatt

      Doug, the assumed necessary synonymous relationship between truth and fact is a post-biblical western concept; one that doesn’t fit with the cultures from which the Bible comes.

      • Doug Tozier

        Right and wrong is universal. If a sacred book misses on morality, regardless of era, then it warrants no reverence. How can a book give spiritual advice if it can’t give practical advice? If cultural norms were our guide, then cannibalism would be okay. But the Bible is actually worse, advocating (according to your logic) Rape, murder, incest, polygamy. and slavery (just to skim the surface). Perhaps worse is the meme that children are guilty for their parents’ sins. I want no part of a system that goes against everything we have learned from the Enlightenment and Revolutions. America is no more Christian than Hitler’s Germany was.We need to free ourselves of the mindset that we can glean “principles” from a book of such character. There is a better way. We need reason, not religion.

        • Doug Tozier

          BTW: Jesus created nothing; it was his followers who created Christianity. The Pauline Epistles came first, and although drawing from Jewish roots, made a whole new system based on the same old concept of “original sin” and “punishment vs. reward”. Christianity is Paul’s religion, not Jesus’.

          • John Masters

            Paul, basically created a Judaism lite. He wanted to make it easy to win followers…sort of a Bronze age televangelist. We seem to always forget that Jesus was born, died and was buried as a Jew, and never said anything about creating something outside of that. He spoke once in the Temple about works, saying his works spoke for him, and that we were to do even greater things. Paul talked only about grace for salvation…no real good works required, just ask. No need to keep the Jewish law. No need for circumcision, as he knew that would be a non-starter for Gentiles. I know I’ll get jumped on for this, but what we have today, as you note, is a religion based more on Paul than on Jesus. In fact, in many ways, Paul contradicted some of Jesus’ teachings.

          • rvs

            Again, a straw man argument. “Paul talked only about grace for salvation…no real good works required, just ask.” Please read Ephesians 2:8-10 again and note Paul’s use of “works.” The particular “works” Paul spoke against weren’t good deeds but the pious works that marked one as as Jewish: circumcision, ritual sacrifice, rigid Sabbath-keeping, etc. Read Sanders, Hays, Wright, any modern theologican. I don’t deny that Jesus didn’t intend to found a new religion. Neither did Paul. He felt Jesus embodied the true form of Judaism.

          • Julie

            Great post!

          • rvs

            Straw man argument. This “Paul” was a creation of 19th century atheists who wanted to discredit Christianity. You’ll look in vain in the Pauline epistles for anything like eternal punishment. The “same old concept of ‘original sin'” is a medieval Catholic creation. Orthodox Christians don’t believe in it. Catch up on your reading.

          • WeldonScott

            Actually, Christianity’s concept of underworld punishment, of which the Jesus character spoke many times, is much older than your purport.

            […] they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.

            Plato (4th century BCE) The Republic. Book II.
            classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html

          • Julie

            Another great post!

          • Doug Tozier

            “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life…” But that’s just a quote from a book of fairy tales. As an “orthodox Christian”, you better believe we believed it. I hate when somebody speaks from ignorance for all Christians. Or ex-Christian in my case.

          • rvs

            Orthodox with a capital “o” as in Eastern Orthodox. Also I don’t see what either passage you quoted has to do with eternal punishment.

          • Doug Tozier

            Just another interpretation of an ancient book of fairy tales. Let’s not argue over semantics and doctrine and ask, instead, why anyone gives any heed to what mostly ignorant men wrote thousands of years ago in their local pissing contests.

        • rvs

          The things you condemn from the Old Testament were the product of a Bronze Age civilization and were already on their way out by the time of Jesus. Acts 15 specifically says that Christians aren’t bound by all those Jewish civil laws. You’re flattening the Bible out and saying it’s all of equal value and truth. It isn’t. To reject it because parts are obsolete or the product of any earlier age is like rejecting science because Isaac Newton’s theories don’t apply at relativistic speeds. Science progresses. So does theology. if the fundamentalists are stuck in an imaginary past when everything was literally true, that’s their problem. BTW, Hitler’s Germany was a product of the Enlightenment, so if you think a society based on “pure reason” (whatever that might be) is going to be perfect, think again. The Nazis were among the most scientifically and technologically advanced people on earth. That’s why the US took in their scientists after the war (Project Paperclip).

          • WeldonScott

            > Hitler’s Germany was a product of the Enlightenment Christianity

            Fixed it for ya.

            “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior…In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose…As a Christian I… For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

            -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)
            nobeliefs.com/Hitler1.htm

          • rvs

            So why then did the Third Reich persecute so many Christians? And the last I looked, despite what Hitler may have said, his true spiritual inspiration was Nietzsche, who was not a Christian.

          • WeldonScott

            Why did Christians fight Christians in Europe throughout history? Never hear of the 30 Year War? You ought to read some history.

            You dodge the strong support both Protestant and Catholic Christians gave Hitler, because you’re not interested in the truth.

            http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/images/nazi-priests.jpg

          • rvs

            What then of those who opposed them?

          • WeldonScott

            Are you going to blame the 30 Year War on Nietzsche?

          • rvs

            What about the Christians who opposed Hitler? Nobody’s denying a lot supported him. Does the 30 Year War disprove Christianity or does it does prove that human beings are warlike?

          • WeldonScott

            Nietzsche isn’t to blame anymore? Got any other dodges under your sleeve?

          • rvs

            You’re the one dodging. You lump all German Christians together as if they’re all the same, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Shall I blame Stalin’s atheism on the purges and the starvation of 30 million Russians? What about Mao’s atheism? Any ideology can be forced into the service of power.

          • WeldonScott

            You’re the one dodging Christianity’s major influence in the rise of Nazism, while trying to assign the blame to to a single fellow Nietzsche–at least for a while. Did you give up that now? Oh, look over there, Stalin! Do you realize he went to school to be a priest?

          • rvs

            So, what are you saying Weldon: Christianity, therefore Nazis? Stalin studied to be a priest before he became an atheist, therefore Stalinism is Christian? That’s deep. Also Mao saw a Bible one time, therefore the Cultural Revolution is Christian. Jeez. BTW, http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2011/11/friedrich_nietzsche_his_proto-nazi_eco-fascism.html. Feel free to engage the article, I’m done here. I have a policy against arguing with fundamentalists of any variety, including whatever it is that you are. A nihilist?

          • WeldonScott

            You’re not “done” here, you’re overdone.

          • Guest
          • WeldonScott

            Never heard of Martin Luther’s “On the Jews and Their Lies?”

          • Doug Tozier

            If slavery is immoral today, it has always been immoral. Just like cannibalism, though practiced today, is obviously immoral, and always has been. In the same way, there are laws that are not moral today, but are at the whim of politicians and may do more harm than good. That is he true test of morality.

          • Guest

            So you allow for no progress in moral understanding? What is the standard by which you judge these things to be immoral? I.e., how do you know cannibalism and slavery are immoral?

          • Doug Tozier

            Reason. This is why I insist that the Bible is not necessary. If we must apply reason to it to decide what is moral, then reason trumps faith, and no book is more virtuous than any other. All books come under the same scrutiny. But the Bible declares itself to be above scrutiny and human understanding. That it is why it is so binding to weak minds and a great too of the clergy. It short-circuits every ounce of human achievement and progress. This isn’t about the letter of the law, its about the whole idea of a “word of God”. It is antithetical to the idea of moral understanding.

          • rvs

            Reason is a tool, not a body of knowledge. Aristotle believed in slavery. Was his reason deficient or was he a product of his times? Is it possible that there’s been moral progress since Aristotle? Ever heard of “progressive revelation” when applied to the Bible? It was written over a period of about 1500 years by people from widely differing cultures, so I wouldn’t expect it to be uniform. All texts must be interpreted and understood in their historical context … using reason. Again, all Christians are not Biblical literalists or fundamentalists. To build a Protestant evangelical straw man and then knock it down repeatedly doesn’t really advance your cause. Whatever that might be. I would think you would welcome an article like that of the OP’s because it does differ so much from the bigoted rantings and power-hungry lunacy of the Christian right.

          • Doug Tozier

            I thought we were talking from a 21st century understanding… I don’t get why we would want to defend barbaric practices that have enslaved millions of gullible people because they wanted to accept that authority gave some the right to abuse them and give them false hope in imaginary beings. But I am weird that way.

          • rvs

            Who’s defending barbaric practices? Not I.

          • rvs

            BTW I agree with you completely. Slavery and cannibalism are now and have always been immoral. Which is why a literal reading of the Bible is ill-advised. Which is the point of the OP. Biblical literalism / Christian fundamentalism and atheism are not the only options. So do you allow for no progress in moral understanding? What is the standard by which you judge these things to be immoral? I.e., how do you know cannibalism and slavery are immoral?

      • rvs

        Doug and John, the incorrect statements and oversimplifications you offer are breathtaking.

    • Julie

      My dad isn’t perfect but I’ve learned a whole lot of truth from him. 🙂

      • Doug Tozier

        Good point. Therefore, he is not the source of absolute truth.

        • Julie

          Truth is truth.

  • Guest

    Funny, but usually the folks who go out of their way to denigrate the faith of others on my blog say it’s from the Bronze Age.

  • Alan Christensen

    Didn’t Jesus say, “whoever does not take up the cross and follow the Bible is not worthy of me”? Oh, wait, he didn’t.

  • This is simply superb

  • Rev Richard Laeder

    Oh my gosh, here you go again, blathering out things you have no knowledge of. It is no wonder that you do, however. Your understanding of the bible is through eyes that cannot see and what you hear is through ears that cannot hear. The law spoken of above is the law according to what the Scribes and Pharisees had amassed as what they thought would be a hedge of protection to keep people from breaking God’s Law. But never mind that. spiritual things are known only to the Spirit of the Living God.

    • Jeremy

      What law are you refering to?

      • Rev Richard Laeder

        Wow. Do you really not know?

        • rvs

          It’s a fair question. There are 613 laws in the Old Testament. Which one?

          • Rev Richard Laeder

            That is not the case. The 613 you refer to is the hedge the Jews concocted to protect, so they thought, the Mosaic Law. Instead they in effect taught the teachings of men rather than those of God and lead people astray. Jesus is applying a corrective to their wrong-thinking, and false teaching, which they did not receive. On the outside they posed themselves as righteous before man, but before God, they are like whitewashed tombs of death. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the eternal Word made flesh, even calls them that. The mistake people over the ages have made is the thinking that the mere reading and doing of the Word produces a spiritual connection with the Word. The Word can be read, understood and followed, as far as language is read and understood and followed. However, apart from God’s revelation it remains a veiled and hidden Word that no one without the Spirit of God can rightly understand. The Third Person of the Holy Trinity is poured out on Pentecost after Jesus in His glorified body is raised to the throne of God to reign as King eternal on “David’s Throne” to make the Word known in us who believe. You see, the Holy Spirit points to the Cross of Jesus and His vicarious atonement for the sin of mankind as the fulfillment of the Law “for us.” There is no other name given to us by which we must be saved except the name of Jesus Christ. There is no other sacrifice for sin because His sacrifice and fulfillment of the Law is sufficient for all. This is why the message is still heralded as it was when Jesus still walked this earth: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

          • rvs

            I’m not talking about the Talmud. I assume that’s your “hedge.” I’m talking about biblical law. As in Leviticus, etc.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/613_commandments

            And “Your understanding of the bible is through eyes that cannot see and what you hear is through ears that cannot hear” is about as condescending and ungracious a thing to say to someone with whom you disagree, as I can imagine. You presume much.

  • stratford

    When Jesus came a lot of the old law was done away with because He paid the price for.our forgiveness. I find it rather amusing all the scripture you referred to is old testament law.

  • rvs

    Great article. Keep up the good work.

  • Kate

    I am in such utter disagreement with this article! This is very dangerous thinking. If you question the validity of the Bible and it’s absolute authority over believers, then you are doing the same thing that satan did in the garden of Eden to deceive Eve – you are creating shadowy doubt that God said what He meant and meant what He said. This is deception, subtle as it may be. The Old Testament references used in this article are grossly taken out of context and not seen as part of the whole big picture of scripture. This whole article just makes me scream out “WARNING! LIES AND DECEPTION!” God’s Word is living and active and powerful. If you water it down, discredit it, or in any way make it less than sacred and eternal, then you do the same to the Father, The Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit who breathed life into this very Word! It’s trash like this article that is propagating a powerless gospel and a powerless church that is nothing less than antichrist in spirit. Horrible stuff!!!

    • OZ_in_TX

      Kate, the right of women to vote in America was viciously opposed by religious fundamentalists who gleefully quoted every New Testament verse about ‘women submitting to their husbands’ and ‘women have no place being in authority over men’ – it’s not an opinion that ‘Christians’ can misuse scripture to deny the rights of others… it’s history.

    • WeldonScott

      > it’s absolute authority over believers

      What a joke! And I’ll prove it.

      Kate, send me $10,000 or the proceeds of whatever assets you can sell in the next week (whichever is lesser) so I can buy a decent used car. Use paypal or some other method to easily send money by email. I’ll give you my email when you respond. Thank you.

      Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. ~Jesus (Matthew 5:42)

      Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. ~Jesus (Luke 6:30)

    • gimpi1

      Well, the Bible is not literally, scientifically true.

      Genesis is a creation-myth or parable, nothing more. The earth (and the solar-system) coalesced out of interstellar gases. We’re the product of earlier star-systems. The universe is much older than the earth. The earth itself is 4+billion years old. Its atmosphere developed over vast amounts of time. Its land-masses have had many different configurations, driven by plate-tectonics. Life developed slowly, and life evolved to fill different niches over time. All of this is clearly supported by the geologic and fossil record, by our understanding of biology, cosmology and physics.

      Much of the history reported in the Bible is questionable. There is no good evidence that the Exodus ever occurred, for example. The talk of 600 year life-spans, giants existing and inbreeding with humans, talking animals are all pretty dubious. There was no great flood. (The geologic-record is clear on that.)

      You can find much good philosophy (and bad) in the bible, but it’s not a science or history text. Using it as one is wrong.

    • Jeremy

      Where in this article was the validity of the bible questioned? It was the validity of the interpreter that was in question.

  • PK

    Which thinking could very well lead to the heretic church that allows gay weddings and gay pastors. While I agree that it is not our place to judge the individual, we must be willing to identify sin as God’s Word identifies it. You don’t get to pick and choose.
    1st COR6:9

    • rvs

      Exodus 21:15: “He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely
      be put to death.” You must be okay with this, then? After all, “You don’t
      get to pick and choose.”

    • Mark

      Why not? Homosexuality is in the Bible on par with eating pork and shrimp. OT scripture requires certain rape victims to marry their rapists, and unruly children to be stoned. And if you’ve ever done any work on the Sabbath, you’ve sinned just as much as a homosexual. If you consider either of those to be sins.

      • Falken

        I also don’t see how humans – considered the very pinnacle of God’s creation – should ignore part of his gifts of empathy and intellect. Empathy is ignored particularly by the “love the sinner, hate the sin” crowd. Intellect is ignored by “Biblical Innerrancy” followers. Plus, if one is going to follow commandments that are handpicked to use against someone, why not follow the ones that also hurt as well?

      • PK

        God’s sanctity of marriage is hardly akin to food hygiene laws.

        • Julie

          Hmm…sounds like an opinion.

  • Robert McDaniel

    The truth sets you free, faith show you belief, and not just hearing the word, yet doing what is said makes you a follower, yes imperfect we are, But the perfection and Glory belong to God, Heads held high will bow, Heads held low will receive the crowns, To me God said many are call and many will not answer, So it does not matter what man wants or thinks God is faithful and will do as it is written and has done as it was spoken, mercy is what ya need

  • Jim

    I appreciate this post, this is a very important message to get across to not just Christians, but to everyone who thinks Christians have to think is such inane ways. One little quibble, however–‘Adam’ is more like ‘humanity’ than ‘human’.

  • Jordan Wilson

    #1

    //there’s still no way to glean an absolute understanding from the texts//

    You are saying the Holy Spirit is unable to reveal objective truth to man through the scriptures? Sounds pretty arrogant.

    I am absolutely sure that I have a certain understanding of what the scripture basically teaches from the text, via the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is God’s word, and is the ultimate standard by which I weigh the truthfulness of anything else, including your claims.

    //So maybe rather than an absolute’s we’re meant to focus more on growth, improvement and restoration.//

    What does this even mean? Growth towards what end? What is the standard of what constitutes improvement? Restoration of what values?

    #2

    // We can use the Bible to make nearly any claim we want.//

    The fact that scripture has been TWISTED in the past is nothing new or interesting. Twisting the scriptures is an indicator that scripture has been rejected or ignored and is not an argument to abandon inerrancy.

    #3

    // I’ve never met ANYONE in my life who follows the Bible completely, from beginning to end – I could swear the protesters from Westboro Baptist wear shirts that are a poly-cotton blend, and that some of the fiercest Bible-bangers out there enjoy a good shrimp cocktail from time to time.//

    You are displaying either a twisting of scripture or an ignorance of scripture by missing what the scripture teaches on ceremonial law being fulfilled in Christ. Not a reason to abandon inerrancy.

    #4

    //Yes, there are contradictions in scripture //

    All examples you cite stem from either a lack of understanding or twisting of scripture. Not a reason to abandon inerrancy. The most you could say is there are apparent contradictions in scripture, which you don’t yet understand.

    #5

    Jesus was not a scripture literalist – If he was, he would never have said things like, “the law (in the Bible) says, but I say…”.

    Jesus was explaining the fuller meaning behind the original words, not saying the original words were some kind of mistake.

    ——

    All of these objections are the kind of objections atheists commonly make, who want to appear smart but their objections are rooted in ignorance.

  • Chris

    Jesus said, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”