David Bokovoy sent the follow as a comment. So it doesn’t get lost in the background, I’ve decided to post it here. For clarity, I’ve put David’s new comments in red, the original question someone asked David in green, and David’s previous response to the original question in blue. My comments are in black.
Since I don’t feel comfortable engaging in these types of personal exchanges, this will be my only post. The blog has been deleted. I’m posting the exchange so that your readers can see the full quote. It was written in response to a person with a friend wondering if she could stay committed to her religion (which I later learned happened to be Mormonism) since she has begun to doubt the historicity of her scriptures.
Here was the question:
“A very good friend posed it to me, very sincerely, just yesterday. If we demythologize and dehistoricize all of the supposedly historical characters in the Bible–the ones who are supposed to show us how God has interacted with human beings throughout history–than what ultimate value does the book have for us spiritually? Isn’t the whole point of the Old Testament (and all of the rest of the scriptures) to show us how an actual God interacts with actual people in actual history?”
No matter which religious faith we’re discussing, I feel strongly that believers should make room on the pew, so to speak, for fellow worshippers who may see history, revelation, or even the nature of scriptural texts differently than we do. I believe we should be able to offer help to those who are questioning find possible alternative paradigms they might adopt in an effort to retain faith. We should be able to do so free from misrepresentation and personal attacks.
With that preface, here was the response i gave with the introduction and conclusion your post omitted. It frames the discussion as offering one possible paradigm that could help someone in that situtation. I was not advocating adopting any specific view…
Thanks, XXXXX, I’m grateful for the extremely thoughtful comment. I wish I had a good answer. I suppose one possible response to your friend’s question would be this:
Rather than approach a scriptural text as a record of the way God has literally interacted with a human being, one might read the record as a tool that assists readers to feel connected to divinity by considering what other people (meaning the text’s original author) have felt about God(s) and his/their efforts to connect with humanity.
Read this way, a sacred text might serve as a springboard for spiritual self-reliance, so that the way deity is depicted as interacting with a person (either historical or fictitious) is not nearly as relevant as the way in which that account helps its reader experience her own personal connection with the divine. That connection could in fact be the exact opposite from what the actual text presents, so that even a false understanding of divinity could actually lead a reader to greater light and knowledge.
At least that’s one possible approach.
A couple of comments.
1- David didn’t answer the question of whether the original answer in blue represents his own view. Instead he states: “I was not advocating adopting any specific view.”
2- I am perfectly happy with “mak[ing] room on the pew, so to speak, for fellow worshippers who may see history, revelation, or even the nature of scriptural texts differently than we do” as David suggests. I don’t understand why this should preclude debating ideas, and examining the logical and inevitable consequences of such ideas.
3- He also tacitly accuses me of “misrepresentation and personal attacks.” First, I really don’t understand why publicly debating ideas and discussing their implications represents a “personal attack.” Secondly, I don’t understand how I have “misrepresented him.” I believe the quotation in blue represents David’s personal view. He has not denied this. He instead simply says that he is “not advocating adopting any specific view.” Those are two entirely different things. If the section in blue above does not represent David’s views, all he has to do is say so, and the problem of my supposed “misrepresentation” is solved. I’m still waiting.