Learning how not to read

Umbridge

I’m still grateful to this very bad English teacher for that assignment and for the lesson it taught me. She helped me learn how not to read. And not just how not to read poetry, but how not to read parables and prophecies and sermons and stories. As the very worst of my many fundamentalist teachers, in other words, she helped me to unlearn one of the worst things I had been taught by many other less-awful fundie teachers. She helped me to learn how not to read the Bible. [Read more...]

The Bible is clearly ambiguous, but not that kind of ambiguous

KJV

The problem is not that the Bible is lacking in clear, definitive, categorical statements. The problem is that the Bible offers too many of them and they do not all agree. [Read more...]

The Bible used to get a lot of things wrong

"You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you ..."

If those early Southern Baptists were wrong about slavery, then they were wrong about the Bible — wrong about how to read the Bible. They were wrong about slavery because they were wrong about how to read the Bible. Contemporary white evangelicals want to retain the same approach to reading the Bible, but not the same conclusions about slavery. That doesn’t work. [Read more...]

Smart people saying smart things (12.13.14)

Randi Harper on online abuse; Chris Rock on the whiteness of Hollywood; Damaris Zehner on the “perspicuity of scripture;” Mark Fallon confirms that “Dick Cheney was lying about torture;” and David Brin on “Abortion and the ‘Jesus Effect.’” [Read more...]

Ignorant Christians need to STFU about ‘the poor you will always have with you’ until they can be bothered to understand what Jesus actually said

I took this picture in Bethany in 1990, not far from Martha and Mary's house. (Or, at least, not far from where Constantine's mom thought Martha and Mary lived.)

“Do not show ill will toward the needy and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.” Rick Perry didn’t mean to quote that passage from the Jubilee laws in Deuteronomy, but like far too many ignorant Christians, that’s just what he did. [Read more...]

Evangelical biblicism is a new(ish) thing

IllWind

The first-century disciples at Pentecost and in the generations that followed were not Bible Christians in anything like the way contemporary white evangelicals think of that term. They couldn’t have been for the very simple reason that the Bible did not yet exist. … I’m not talking about theology, but about technology. The Bible is a book. And in New Testament times, books hadn’t been invented yet. [Read more...]

Proverbs and fart jokes and other ancient wisdom literature

There's probably also a joke in here somewhere, which would push the oldest joke back another 20,000 years.

You have to read Proverbs with the other biblical “wisdom” books in mind. It’s part of a set and without the commentary and correction provided by those adjoining books, it can be misleading. Read Proverbs in isolation from them and you can wind up with exactly the sort of hollow Bildadism that the book of Job mocks, the Psalms mourn, and Ecclesiastes demolishes. [Read more...]

‘God hates shrimp’: Picking and choosing among abominations

PeterCraftJackson

The key thing to notice when asking this question of white evangelicals in America is that they don’t usually try to answer it. They don’t respond with a hermeneutical argument for how to approach the Bible, but rather with a defense of their affirmation of particular commandments. Such non-answers don’t provide an explanation of the principles by which we can determine whether or not a biblical teaching ought to be regarded as binding. They offer, instead, after-the-fact, ad hoc rationalizations — attempts to defend our current practice by creating some retroactive explanation for them. I want to look here at three popular variations on this non-answer. [Read more...]


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