Betraying the Bible

Betraying the Bible June 13, 2013

John Shore has the following to say in a post today:

The conservatives’ kill shot has always been a silver bullet with four words engraved into it: “It’s in the Bible.”

A wife is to submit to her husband. A woman shouldn’t speak in church. Spare the rod, spoil the child. The Earth is the center of the universe. God’s plan is for the white man to have slaves. Gay people are a moral abomination. People who die without having accepted Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior must spend eternity burning in the hellfire of damnation.

The conservative Christian makes this sort of ruinous proclamation, and then shrugs innocently, smiles with humble assurance, and says, “Hey, it’s not me saying it. It’s in the Bible.”

But much like the Hollywood movie publicist who cobbles together a glowing review from a savage one by carefully selecting from the latter a few choice words and then tossing the rest, the Christian right is ignoring the entire point of the Bible. Repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, Jesus insists that equity, compassion, humility, fairness, and love supersede any specific “rule” in the Bible. Christ instructed us not by prohibiting specific behaviors and prescribing others, but rather, in principles and parables, making clear that he expects us to use our hearts, minds, and the Holy Spirit to translate his words into actions appropriate to our time and place…

The Christian right only pretends to take the Bible seriously. But what they actually do is to take out of context, and then take very seriously indeed those few and far between words in the Bible that serve to bring them (gee, what a coincidence) the very power that they want.

They do not serve the Bible. They use the Bible to serve themselves. And, incredibly enough, they’ve learned to turn that fact into the ultimate in offensive weapon.

This is just an excerpt. Click through to read the whole thing.

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  • I’ll grant you many (if not most) do take these verses out of context, however not all of us try to do so. It is, in fact, possible to disagree on interpretation without one or the other ignoring all context. For example. I believe homosexual acts are sinful. But I do try to pay attention to context. I also think a wife should submit to her husband (just as a husband should submit to others, including his wife, as well), I take the letters to Timothy and Titus to be “emergency fix-it” letters (not normative manuals), the Bible (OT in particular) uses phenomenological language and isn’t a modern history book, and slavery was a reality in the first century and a totally different issue from black/white slavery in the US in the last 200 years. Fair enough?

    • I can’t help but wondering whether the disagreement over most of the points that you make doesn’t undermine Ken Ham’s claim about the perspicuity of Scripture?

      • I’m definitely no Hamm apologist. But at the same time, though I disagree with anyone of his “stripe” who would say “you must believe this way” I also don’t think they’re 100% crazy to hold a “young earth” position (though, I find many of AiG’s positions untenable personally). Disagree, yes, but I don’t feel the need to denigrate their positions (only, perhaps, their posturing)

        • You don’t have to be 100% crazy, but you do have to adopt the conspiracy theory worldview which says that the world’s scientists are conspiring to cover up the evidence but a handful of non-scientists and ideologically-driven people of various sorts can nonetheless see through the conspiracy.

          I used to be a young-earth creationist, and so I speak this way as one who knows what sort of view I held, and that I ought to have known better and could have known better if I did not simply listen gullibly to charlatans, but fact-checked their claims.

  • John Shore

    Hey, thanks a lot for this, James.

  • Great read—but his site’s auto-appending a tagline to all copied excerpts is a nealry-disqualifying BS move.

    • John Shore

      I have no idea what that is, btw. It just started doing that, and I have no idea why, or how to make it STOP doing that.

      • John Shore

        And I notice the same tauto-appending tagline happens when I copy excerpts off of James’ blog, too. So … wtf IS that?

        • John Shore

          (And so, you know [and please do forgive, James, this bit o’ hijacking of this thread] it’s not a “BS move” on my part. It’s just something that inadvertently happened. Sheesh.) Thanks again for all, James.

          • I think that has to do with an upgrade to the blog platform. I think it can be made to go away – but it is not hard to delete and so a minor nuisance.

            And just so you know, if I quote you, saying what you feel you need to in the comment thread will not be considered “hijacking”! 🙂

      • Ah, sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed—knee-jerk reaction on my part. Too many bloggers and newspapers have done that on purpose in the past! As a long time blogger myself, I view it as bad form to add unwanted cruft to user’s selections.

        Looks like it has to do with the ShareThis widget, triggered by Cmd+C: Probably an easy settings change.

  • Herro

    “…the Christian right is ignoring the entire point of the Bible.”

    Shore then goes on to explain how he thinks that the Christian right is ignoring the teachings of the Jesus of the gospels. Last time I checked the words of Jesus in the gospels aren’t “the Bible”, and surely this isn’t some overarching point of the whole Bible.

    Then he says this:

    “Because God wants Christians to think more than that, to intuit more than that. God wants us to be more than that.”

    He knows the mind of his god! How fundie-like of him.

    • I’ll let John Shore respond to this if he wants to, since I certainly don’t know the details of his viewpoint sufficiently to speak for him. But I will say that the teaching of Jesus has long been viewed as encapsulating the overarching point of the Bible. According to the Gospels, Jesus, like other rabbis in his time, sought to find a way of summing up the entirety of the Bible’s teachings in terms of some small part of it. In this case, what was offered was the command to love God, and the command to love neighbor. You can dispute whether this really does sum up the Bible’s core teaching or not, but there is nothing odd about what Shore was trying to do, at least from a certain perspective.

      • John Shore

        Exactly, James. Thank you.

      • Herro

        Well, as a self-proclaimed “un-fundamentalist”, I just assumed that Shore wouldn’t make fundie-like claims like that the “entire point of the Bible” is somehow to be seen in the words attributed to Jesus in the gospels.