I don’t read the Bible nearly as much as I used to. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I sat down and read it for pleasure. I continue to read in-depth commentaries on certain passages, but even that has diminished over the years. I just don’t find it as interesting, nor authoritative.
And that’s where the proverbial rubber meets the road; the Bible has no authority over my life. I don’t use it as a moral guidebook. I don’t turn to it when I fail to know what to do in life. It just doesn’t cross my mind in that way at all.
Really, though, why should it? Go ahead and make the case. Why should I give the book such authority? Do I need the Bible in order to be a good person? Well, no. Many atheists are much better people than self-proclaimed Christians. Plus, the Bible clearly says that no one is good, so read your Bible or not, you’re still a wretched worm.
At the end of the day, it’s your presuppositions that state why I need the Bible. You can claim I need it in order to know the savior, but that’s a presupposition I don’t need to affirm. Why do I need a savior? What am I being saved from? Or, more terrifyingly, who do I need saving from? Since so many Christians will say “God,” why should I even believe in that God?
Further, what makes the Bible any better than any other sacred text? Sure, you could get all Girardian and say how it’s the only text that truly exposes the sacrificial mechanism for the lie that it is and then offers us a way out, but the last I checked, once you read the manual and understand how things work, why do you need to go back to reading the manual every day? To use an analogy, this year I put in an above ground pool. As I was doing the install, I probably read and reread the various manuals 100 times. There was a manual for the walls, the liner, and the pump and filter. Now that I understand how everything works, I may keep the manual in my shed, but in order to clean and service everything, I really don’t even need to refer to it any longer. Same goes for the Bible.
Of course, if you enjoy reading the Bible, knock yourself out. If you are a New Testament scholar and enjoy nerding out in the way I nerd out about The Lord of the Rings, have at it. Just don’t expect me to do the same. We all have our interests, and the Bible is no longer mine. I think it offers some great advice, and studying the history of how it was formed, as well as the culture contained within its pages, is fun from time to time, that’s about as far as it goes.
That said, how then do I make moral decisions? It’s easy . . . and difficult. I try to do right by others. I try to be empathetic. I try to be full of understanding and compassion. And I frankly don’t need a book to tell me to do these things. I’m happy that in many places it does, but I don’t do these things because it does. I do these things to the best of my abilities because it’s the right thing to do, and I’m able to do these things (hopefully more often than not) because of the indwelling of the Christ Spirit that is in all humans.
So, if you enjoy reading the Bible on a regular basis, I’m curious as to why. What do you gain from it? How does it positively impact your life in the way that nothing else does? I’m not trying to trap you or ask “gotcha” questions; I’m really curious as to why this book brings peace, joy, happiness, compassion, and empathy to your life.
Hit me up in the comments below and, as always, keep things civil.
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