What is Scripture?

What is Scripture? May 9, 2014

Over on his blog David Bokovoy continues to explain why he thinks scripture should be de-historicized.  There he advocates the following understanding of the nature and purpose of scripture (bold face added).

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.

I find this type of rhetoric astonishing.  What David is advocating is that we reject and abandon claims regarding the historicity, authenticity, accuracy and authority of scripture.  We need to understand this as the implicit and inevitable consequence of his views.  Scripture, for David, does not tell us anything about God, nor about God’s dealings with mankind, nor about God’s revelations.  Rather, it tells us only about what “other people [the authors]” believed “about God.”  The Bible may, in fact, may well present a “false understanding of divinity.”

Of course any ancient religious book tells us what its author believed about God.  That is so tautological as to be meaningless.  If that is all the Bible or the Book of Mormon is, then it is no different than the Iliad, or the Bhagavad-Gita, or the Qur’an, or the Dao de Jing.  (Indeed, I suspect that I personally believe that these books are more inspired in the literal sense of the term, than David believes that the Bible is revealed or inspired.)

Note that all that matters here, for David, is an individual’s personal belief and religious experience.  All that matters is that an individual feels a “connection with the divine.”   Scripture can thus be completely unmoored from reality.  It is irrelevant if an ancient Israelite told imaginary stories about a fictitious character named Abraham, as long as that story makes you feel “connection with the divine”–just like some people get from reading the Lord of the Rings, or watching Star Wars.

None of these types of claims are new, of course, they have existed for a couple of centuries among liberal Christians, and for many decades among LDS.  If Latter-day Saints prefer this type of vague religiosity, I suggest they look into the Community of Christ, which has officially taken the path David advocates.

Some of us, on the other hand, actually prefer a religion that includes some type of correlation with reality.  We prefer to follow a God who actually intervenes in history, rather than the imaginary Gandalf of Middle Earth.  We prefer to follow a God who can reveal his words to his prophets, rather than the imaginary “Force” of Star Wars.  We prefer a resurrected Christ to imaginary second-hand accounts of the hallucinations of his distraught disciples.  For as Paul noted: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Cor. 15:19)

People need to understand the implications of what David is advocating.  The clear conclusion of his path is that we must reject any substantive ontological truth claims of the Gospel.


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