The Bible Says

David Hayward’s latest cartoon makes a good point. People have justified all sorts of contradictory things from the Bible – from their faith to their atheism, from their right-wing politics to their left-wing economics, from their violence against others to their pacifism.

What are the implications of recognizing this and taking it seriously? At the very least, no one should think that because their worldview is bolstered by many repetitions of the phrase “the Bible says,” that therefore the Bible either says what they think it does, or does not also somewhere say the opposite.

It is time to move our entire culture – both the justification and the rejection of religious belief – beyond the simplistic assertion of “the Bible says.”

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  • Steve

    “It is time to move our entire culture – both the justification and the rejection of religious belief – beyond the simplistic assertion of “the Bible says.”

    Indeed. Private interpretation of the Bible is just that – one person’s opinion. Perhaps a better question is: Who put the Bible together? Who decided there would be 27 books in the New Testament? And what do those folks have to say about the Bible?

    • Lee

      What “those folks” had to say was just as confusing as what we deal with today. The bible is not consistent in its theology and it never has been. It cannot be harmonized. The Catholic Church was the one that solidified the canon, but as I understand it only Hebrews and Revelation were in big dispute.

      However there were as many different interpretations of the bible then as there are now. Not only that but many gnostic versions of Christianity existed too. The Catholic church eventually drove the “heretics” underground.

      I think a better question is why we need the Bible to be perfect instead of seeing it for what it is, a collection of individual writings by individual people trying to understand God.

      Even the fathers of the Church disagreed with each other, often with much rancor. There has NEVER been a “Golden Age” where everyone agreed on everything.

      We already know that even before the Bible was put together that there were errors and mistranslations, some of them deliberate. The person who wrote in Greek about Jesus’ virgin birth mistranslated the Hebrew word which meant “young woman” and changed it to “virgin” The prophecy also referred to a situation at the time of its writing, not hundreds of years in the future. There is also one prophecy in the gospels that does not exist in the OT at all. Most scholars believe that the stories that became the gospels were orally transmited first so maybe the authors rather than checking these prophecies themselves, simply repeated what they had heard.

      At any rate today we actually have a much better chance of understanding the Bible because we have all the scholarship to guide us and it is more objective than the interpretations of the Church(es).

      However WE ALL pick and choose because the Bible is contradictory by its very nature.

      • Steve

        Nice story, bro.

        • Lee

          You can easilly check my facts. But I guess that would require too much work.

          • Beau Quilter

            I could be wrong, but I don’t think Steve meant to disagree?

          • Lee

            His statement is ambigous at best. He called what I wrote a “story” rather than the truth so I have taken that as meaning that he does not buy what I said. However I could be wrong.

          • Steve

            Most of what you said is factual enough. My reaction was mostly to shrug. For instance, you said there was little disagreement over the Canon of Scripture. True enough.

            There were some places that didn’t read Hebrews and Revelation. There were others that read Clement’s letter, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Didache. But insofar as there was disagreement, it was disagreement among Catholics. Then at the close of the 4th century the Church settled the Canon and now we’ve got a Bible.

            So any time a person picks up the Bible and treats it as the word of God, he’s implicitly saying, “The Catholic Church got it right.” Myself, I just want to be honest enough to be consistent. If I’m willing to trust the Catholic Church’s textbook, I’m going to trust what they say about it.

            As for the thing about “alma” being “young woman of marriageable age” in Hebrew, that’s just not a big deal for me. Words carry all kinds of secondary connotations. If I called you thin, lean, skinny, or scrawny – those all have the same meaning but different connotations. So if the translators of the Septuagint thought “alma” could mean “virgin”, then that’s fine by me.