bible bunker

It’s frustrating talking with someone when they suddenly say, “Well, the bible says it so that’s it!” End of conversation!

This happens a lot. Especially when you are talking about something hot, like science, sexuality, justice, the future, the church, money, belief. Things like that.

Fear is behind it. Fear of thinking for oneself. Fear of the unknown. Fear of mystery. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of loss of belief. Fear of faithlessness. Fear of disobedience.

It makes you wonder if at the root of all of us is a profound emptiness that to one extreme we fortify with certitudes or to the other extreme we allow it to depress us.

The question isn’t the way to understanding the Mystery. The question is the Mystery. If you can live with the question, then you are at peace with the Mystery.

You love the Mystery. Fear is gone.

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About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • sam scoville

    Is fear gone for you, David? Seriously. Disappeared? Talk is, I was going to say
    cheap: but it’s not. It costs too, like
    anything. I find it a fear and trembling to live with the mystery: fear in a handful of must.
    Fear in a hand full of dust. The only times I’ve been fearless is when I’ve been manic. Exhilariating, I admit. But then there’s the down side. More about fearlessness, anyone.

  • Jon F. Dewey

    I’ve always been divided on whether the bunker mentality is because of fear, or because of intellectual laziness. I’ve yet to find a discrepancy between the bible and real science or real history or real anything that is looked at with open inquiry.

    The key here is “open” inquiry — just because “science” or a teacher or other human being says it does not mean its a fact, in some cases. One thing I definitely have learned over the course of getting advanced degrees is that the “other side” has just as much bunker mentality and dogma as churches do. Its just applied in a different direction.

    To quote a Todd Rundgren song — “if you want the obvious you get the obvious.” Being open to new ideas teaches you amazing things. Being closed (whether secular or non-secular) keeps you like a horse with blinders on.

  • George C

    Ah, epistemology.

    I came across a quote yesterday by St. So and So that essentially said that even if something appears to be black we ought to believe it is white because the church says so.

    It seems a lot of people use this insane thinking with the bible.

    It really doesn’t take too much study to realize that, at the very least, the bible you or I read is not the same one that the original authors wrote (therfe might be genuine errors or additions/ommissions), that there are vast cultural differences between us and the original audiences of the writers (we’re taking something the wrong way), and most importantly that we have individually and corperately made some pretty stupid mistakes in interpretting the bible, which is likely to happen again (we aren’t as clever as we’d like to believe).

    How about we try saying “I understand this verse to mean……’?

    On the flip side, I always feel that most people are making a rather arrogant statement when they refer to something being a mystery. They seem to be implying that something is actually unknowable, a fact that I always wonder how they themselves know. They would be better off saying “it is a mystery to me” or even “I don’t know”, but there always seems to be a bit of an attitude that if they don’t “get it” then no one can.

    Both of these things are reasons why listening to 90% of the sermons/lectures I hear makes me wish for something more pleasent, like Chinese water tourture.

  • sam scoville

    I understand at least in some circles, “mystery” is mystery to the uninitiated, but not to the practitioners or players. What might sound like babel and glossalahlia to most might make good sense to the “experts.” A “scandal” as they say, ridiculous to the savvy and an offense to the conscientious–but for fools for christ’s sake: yes, Yes, YES.

  • Jon F. Dewey

    George, your comments are an example of your own argument. To say that scripture is not relevant or reliable because we don’t know what the original authors said (which is nonsensical, because why would they write it if they didn’t meant to be understood?) is to be dogmatic in a different direction. It is ridiculous as an argument to sweep aside centuries of scholarship because modern people don’t seem to get it or it doesn’t fit your preconcieved way of thinking. Should we sweep aside mathematics too? Our modern school of mathematics is from the middle ages, as is accounting, and a few other disciplines. I guess we have to toss all that because we do not completely understand what they were culturally, plus they wrote in Latin, which we don’t understand. Oh yeah…their original manuscripts don’t exist anymore, just copies. Your argument is dogmatic, and doesn’t stand.

    Always remember: just because you have a different viewpoint does not mean you are immune from the erroneous thinking patterns of the other side!

    The Bible is understandable — if a person is willing to engage their brains. We can learn what the cultural, linguistics and other references are with a bit of effort. These areas have been written about authoritatively for years. Unfortunately, most people are like what we are talking about: closed minded, and want everything spoon-fed to them. It is modern anti-bible dogmatism that insists that it cannot be understood. That has never been the traditional, historical opinion.

    I can agree with you on the “mystery” part. I wish people would just say “I don’t know!” One of the problems I keep identifying is this nasty tendency to HAVE to have an explanation for everything. That is silly. We can’t understand everything. So instead of wild speculation or intellectual camoflage, just admit we don’t know!

  • sam scoville

    IT was about FEAR, and what kinds of bunkers we inhabit, to keep the wolf at the door and maybe not huffing and puffing, not by the hairs on my chinny chin chins. I am close minded, surrounded by open minds, blind & deaf in the valley of big ears and eyes wide open. Got to keep my self in tact.

  • Ed

    The Christianity Jesus taught isn’t about dogma, it’s about relationship. It seems to me that people who have bunkered in somehow are missing the point of what God wants. He wants us to know the truth of His Word, and we can, but he wants our relationship. Bunkering in, to me might be a sign that we’ve made dogma more important than relationship.

  • Dylan Morrison Author

    It’s difficult to have open hearted conversation or sharing with a bunker dweller without a text bullet being fired at you or even worse a hell destined hand grenade being lobbed into your lap.
    I should know for I was that bunker boy soldier!

  • sam scoville

    I think THIS was about FEAR–bunkers being a way to deflect and protect: dogma, rhetoric, facts, stats, data, figures, what ever shields. My mind is closed. I might think it’s open and the open that it is, is not the problem. Stick me where I defend and my defense is so knee-jerk it occludes the bubble-bunkering-homeland-security system that protects my DNA (directional navigational algorithms). David was talking about fear, claiming (maybe) to be free from it. (Love the mystery, he suggests: the mystery I love isn’t the problem. It’s the mystery I hate that generates the fear.)

  • Brigitte

    Just because David drew a bunker does not mean that it is a bad thing. We could call it “fortress” or “rock”. As in “the Lord is my fortress.” “The Lord is my rock.”

    The Bible is also a firm foundation, not to shoot from, though–however, the Word of God is a sword, two edged and sharp, to divide bone and marrow. Those who have experienced know what that means.

    Ignore it, disparage it and those who hold to it–everyone is free to do. Whether it is reasonable and safe to do so, is another question.

  • George C

    Jon I did not say “that scripture is not relevant or reliable”.

    The are degrees of being “relevant or reliable”. I am not anti-bible just because I don’t think that what I am reading is exactly what Paul or Moses or whomever else wrote down to the letter. I am living my life the way I do based on what I believe the scriptures mean to say.

    What I am pointing to is the indesputable fact that there is really no such thing as perfect word to word translation from koine greek, hebrew, and arabic to english. Therefore we are not necessarily reading what the original writers actually wrote when we read it in our english (or any othe language, for that matter) bible.

    All of the translaters had to do interprelation as well as interpretation to give us our bibles. To make matters even more difficult they do not even work from the same text or texts. What all the texts do have in common though is that they are not the original writings.

    Due to these facts, which any consevative bible scholar that I have ever read will agree to, we are not necessarily reading what the original writers wrote. We may, in essence, be misquoting them when we resort to “that’s what the bible says” to win or hide from an argument.

    I am not disregarding scholarship. Centuries of scholarship affirms what I am saying.

    As far as the bible being understandable and being able to understand linguistic and cultural differences goes, you apparently are ignoring the lack of agreement between various scholars over many points. There may be many points of almost universal agreement, but many points do not have anything near such agreement. They cannot be treated the same.

    This is a big part of the various theological disagreements.

    It is rediculous and arrogant to assume that the difficulty in understanding scripture is due to people’s unwillingness to use their brains. Many people including myself used to think that way until we used our brains a bit more and saw that their were many good intentioned, intellegent, god fearing people who held different theological viewpoints based on how they understood scripture.

    Comparing what I said to disregarding mathematics or other hard sciences is simply a straw man argument. The hard sciences have never relied upon the reliability of someone’s translations of a past writer. Linguistics, anthropology, and history are not even comparable to math or physics.

    A mistake in translation in a writing on math will show up in the numbers. You can test it with objective means. No one quotes old mathematicians to decide disagreements, they grab a writing utensil and show how the math works out.

    This is not how bible translation works.

  • sam scoville

    Originally, the post posed FEAR, and bunkering as a fortress, defense, protecting “a profound emptiness.” The back and forth of this thread illustrate and demonstrate our defenses, defending–protecting the emptiness? The fullness? The closed-ness? The openness? It could be about the stock market, stock car racing, Luther and Calvin if not Hobbes. (No it couldn’t, yes it could, nope, yep) Argument (which I love) looks pretty much the same, like rugby, like tennis, –the tokens might vary, but the game’s the same. Fear-driven? Or for love?

  • George C

    Fear or love driven?

    Hard to tell sometimes, Sam, even when I’m the one doing the defending.

  • sam scoville

    Me too. The small grind called fear (maybe) like the poor: with me always no matter how happy with the mystery I am.

  • Mark McDade

    We teach our people NOT to think. We preach divine revelation like we can just pluck it out of a rolladex. All you need to know about faith in 10 easy steps! A few soundbites to give em all they need for life and Godliness. Jesus lived and died before those he was teaching the meaning of faith – and the bible is helpful enough to show us they just didn’t get at times. Any true biblical reading is enriching because is it humbling. It necessarily requires our vulnerability to God and those on the Journey – whatever labels they wear.

  • sam scoville

    Every response: a bunker? To cover the frofound (fundamental) emptiness? Me: narcissist and solipsist: sealed in (salved, saved) and protecting my Directional Navigational Algorithms from alien influence. Full of fear coming to terms with the mystery.

  • Janet Oberholtzer

    Great cartoon!
    I was bible-bunkered yesterday by two folks after I spoke at an event. Guess I didn’t use enough of Christianese language to satisfy them, so I was asked if I’m born again and if I knew the Lord as my Savior.
    As I tried to have a conversation with them, “the bible says it” seemed to be their favorite line, so I directed the conversation elsewhere … like how cool the place was decorated.

  • fishon

    Fear is behind it. Fear of thinking for oneself. Fear of the unknown. Fear of mystery. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of loss of belief. Fear of faithlessness. Fear of disobedience.
    It makes you wonder if at the root of all of us is a profound emptiness that to one extreme we fortify with certitudes or to the other extreme we allow it to depress us.
    The question isn’t the way to understanding the Mystery. The question is the Mystery. If you can live with the question, then you are at peace with the Mystery.
    You love the Mystery. Fear is gone.
    _____PROVE IT!

  • Joan Y.

    If one lives in fear already, it is difficult to see the freedom in a bible-debunkered life and the joy of celebrating the Mystery. So, the thing to ask is if you deal in the absolutes … then in all likelihood, you ARE bunked. If you’re comfortable or at least understand that there can be different interpretations of scriptures, then you’re probably not. Everyone needs only to prove it to themselves. It all boils down to whether or not you choose to live in fear.

  • fishon

    Joan Y.
    August 8, 2011 | 4:09 pm
    Everyone needs only to prove it to themselves.
    ____Problem is Joan, NP is not just talking of himself; he has put the proposing upon specific others.

    He WROTE:“Well, the bible says it so that’s it!” End of conversation!…”Fear is behind it. Fear of thinking for oneself. Fear of the unknown. Fear of mystery. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of loss of belief. Fear of faithlessness. Fear of disobedience.”

    Now that sounds nice to a certain segment of ears, but is it true? He made the statement. He put it out for discussion. I just asked him to prove it. PROVE I HAVE FEAR. He is telling his audience I have fear. PROVE IT.

    And what in the hell does “You love the Mystery. Fear is gone” mean?

    NP wrote: “…like science, sexuality, justice, the future, the church, money, belief. Things like that.”
    ___There are lots of mysterys in everyone of those categories he brings up. And there is much fear over the many mysterys within them.

    And bunker mentality. There is not human alive that doesn’t have a bunker mentality. I think Sam already said that, but not sure. He writes way over my head.

  • halavana

    I keep wondering, what are we so afraid of? I hang out with lots of “diverse” people who are just as likely to fall into a bunker as many evangelicals. When I consider hiding out I ask myself: Do I trust the Author or authors of the Bible? If so, it’s time to dig deeper. If not, it’s time to hang it up.

  • Steve Martin

    The Bible is the cradle that the Christ child is laid in.

    – Martin Luther

  • Jessica

    I shared this post on facebook today and got this comment:

    “Psalm 1:2 “…his delight is in the law of the Lord…” And to quote Kevin DeYoung: “In our world of perpetual squishitude, why offer people more of what they already have-vague spirituality, uncertainty, and borderline interpretative relativism? Why not offer them something hard and old like the Law in which we delight, and dare to say and believe “Thus saith the Lord”?”


  • sam scoville

    Just read through all the commentary
    Naked Pastor’s cartoons and comments
    generate. 2 kinds: choir adoration and
    critical cantankerous-ness.

    News from the “Bunkers”
    Something like smoke signals
    from our caves on an always windy day.

    I’m pretty sure each expostulation comes
    from desire and consideration: like the
    blind wise men around the elephant—
    telling all how IT is from where I stand.
    Hoping to convince others and self by
    acclimation,. Being True to our selves
    and where we stand.

    No one is going to convince me the
    elephant is not very like a whisk broom,
    I don’t care what they say. I’ve got
    the evidence in my hands. How can I
    deny it.

    Facts, figures, stats, data, makes no
    never mind-change. Rice off a rhino.
    I love the exchange, the back & forth,
    but no one will change my minding
    and I will change no one. Knowing
    that’s not the point, changes every

    What attracts my attention is the
    conversation itself: the argument
    and what IT reveals. The relationship,
    two or more—whatever the token
    topics and apparent subject-object

    IT’s like the married couple (or
    partners) arguing over who took out
    the trash last. Trash talk. We know
    it’s NOT really about the trash,
    it’s about the Relationship—but
    it rarely can be said.

    NO! we’re talking bible here!
    Church-iness! When Jesus Walked!
    Debt Ceiling! Cap and Trade!
    Fear and Trembling! Tea Party
    Downgrade! …

    IT’s never what it’s apparently
    about, but it can’t be said without
    a kind of demoralization.

    “No No it IS about the trash,” my good
    wife insists. And so it goes and goes.