Category Archives: Bible

these people are really kidding themselves

Wow, a dangerous excuse for teaching the bible in public school. The only way this is even slightly okay is if other religious texts are taught in the same class for their “literary and historic qualities”. Can’t help but wonder how well those students who disagree with the literature of the bible will do in this class??

things i agree with today

NOT taking the Bible literally. Here’s a few blog posts/articles that elaborate on the subject:

From the USA Today

Is the Bible the literal word of God, or a historical compilation written by different people in different situations over a period of years? This question has provoked some soul-searching about the very foundation upon which the Christian faith is based.

From Beliefnet blog Progressive Revival

Common wisdom holds that the people who take the Bible most seriously in America are those from the conservative traditions who claim a literalist interpretation of the “The Bible says it and I believe it” variety. But try telling these same people that there are two creation stories or that God refers to God’s self in the plural and they give you a blank expression.

i LOVE this post

finally, it all makes sense, and totally breaks your heart at the same time.

http://www.conversiondiary.com/2009/04/why-did-jesus-have-to-die-for-our-sins.html

And to all those who did or would comment that that is not what happened, let me remind you that none of us know for sure so get off the high horse.

leap of faith

What I don’t understand is the people who try to convince me of some Christian position by saying “It’s in the Bible!” Ok, but… “But it’s the word of God” they say. And? Just because you believe that I’m supposed to? It’s not that easy and expecting it to be is insulting to my intelligence.

Look, the Bible is a great book – but it takes a leap of faith to sincerely believe that everything (or even most things) in it are complete truth. I will reiterate that I have no problem with people believing wholeheartedly in the Bible. However, one cannot logically use that as an argument for understanding the why’s and how’s of the Christian faith. That would assume that EVERYONE believes the same thing.

There has to be another level to the debate, there has to be a way to talk about it (Christianity and religion in general) without assuming the other person is wrong because they do or don’t believe. I often get people quoting the Bible to me when I explain a position that I have trouble understanding or believing. That is just not helpful if I have not made the same leap of faith. And not that I don’t want to, I’m just not there yet – may never be. Some tend to assume I just haven’t tried and therefore don’t “get it”. Never a fair assumption, that the other person is just not as smart as you are.

The “it’s in the Bible” arguments are a complete turn off. It’s like having a door slammed in your face, while the person doing the slamming is smiling. That may not be the intention, but that’s what’s conveyed. The explicit truth of the Bible and God are not things we can prove or disprove so they cannot be used as THE justification.

falling from grace

“Ancient Greek religious art does not portray myth as is widely supposed, but rather the history of the human race told from the standpoint of the way of Kain. Like the Book of Genesis, Greek artists traced back their ancestors to a first couple in an ancient paradise with a serpent-entwined apple tree-only they believed that the serpent enlightened, rather than deluded, that first couple…”

I don’t even remember where this quote came from now, but it hit home for me for this reason: every time in my life that I have experienced a major pain, a major “fall”, I have grown spiritually and intellectually from that experience. It has been something that as I look back I realize gave me such insight and wisdom that I would not trade it now even if I had the power to.

Why wouldn’t that also be true for Adam and Eve? How can anyone learn anything living a perfect life in a Garden of Eden? If you want for nothing, not even knowledge you might as well be dead. Curiosity seems to me to be our blessing and it’s what opened up Adam and Eve to a harder but far more interesting and fulfilling journey….symbolically speaking of course 🙂

notes from the edge of the river – III more on the bible

These writings were from my solo vacation to a little red caboose cabin near Bandera, Texas this past week. A long weekend of relaxing, reflection and exploration.

My struggles with Jesus actually complicate my whole relationship (for lack of a better term) with the Bible, specifically the New Testament. What do I do with all of these scriptures claiming that Jesus was the messiah? I can’t just ignore them. That means the Bible becomes for me a collection of stories. Stories that people interpret and bend to mean what they want them to mean.

Taking the Bible purely as allegory is problematic, because where do the interpretations stop? Where do they enter the realm of the completely ridiculous? I don’t know what I want or need from the Bible yet – I just know that the elusive “it” exists. I can’t pick and choose what I like. When I first starting learning about the bible (and the Early Christianities course is excellent for this) I felt that I was moving further and further away from it.

From what I understand:
1. There are no actual writings of Jesus
2. There are no proven writings of the original 12 apostles
3. What we know of the New Testament in particular was not canonized until hundreds of years after Jesus’ life and death
4. The stories/scriptures were transcribed by scribes over those hundreds of years, making numerous mistakes
5. Some text was actually altered purposefully to counter the religions considered heretical at the time
6. There are many forgeries in the New Testament not written by who the author claimed to be

After this list, I didn’t see how I could be left with anything but an interesting collection of stories. Based on little fact. Stories that inspire perhaps. But then don’t a lot of books? I can think of many books (even fiction!) that I’ve read that completely move and I might even say transform me. Transform my way of thinking and looking at things. I don’t worry that these aren’t fact. I just accept the emotion and go with it. I learn from it and have no problem applying my new found truth to my world.

Why can’t I look at the Bible like this? As long as I don’t condemn others for what moves them. Maybe the Bible is like a treasure chest, where everybody reaches in and comes out with something precious to them. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

I feel at last that I’m approaching this book more honestly than I ever have. I just needed to understand the foundation, the beginning. I didn’t like the feeling (real or imagined) that there were things I shouldn’t know as a Christian because it would rock my faith. On the contrary, I feel I can build faith better on an honest crooked foundation than a smooth façade.

yes, more on the jesus tomb

I’m almost completely sick of this topic, but it’s impossible to pass up. I’ve been reading up on all the various discussions today and below are a few good synopsis’s. Most of what I’ve read is from people defending it from a Christian perspective. I’m more appalled at the lack of scientific approach behind these claims. It is however a great example of the joining of science and religion. Both are at least oppose money hungry filmmakers!

I have a problem with those who quote the Bible as a reason this story is false. It’s false (so far) because they’ve not proven anything. It’s poor science at this point. That does not by default make the alternative true.

While I don’t necessary agree with the inevitable truth of Jesus’ resurrection and return I do agree with most of the comments on the laughable nature of this new so-called documentary. Read it here.

You can also check out the videos of Bruce Feiler’s recent TV appearances on the subject here.

questions on the bible

I’ve been listening to a fascinating course on the early Christians. It has me thinking about the Bible. What seems to be taken as a given is that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are very different forces. Somewhat cruel and hands-on in the former vs. loving and distant in that later. From what I have gleaned so far, scholars know some of the authors of the New Testament and have educated guesses on those they don’t know for sure.

Who “wrote” the New Testament? My guess would be that these are stories passed down from generation to generation until they were written down in texts that were sacred to the Jews. Question for the Jews: in general are the stories of the old testament taken as fact written via the influence of God or for fable to learn by or both?

For Christianity I would say that there are those who believe that God caused the writing of the New Testament (for lack of a better description). My sister-in-law has a good term “God-breathed”. Then there are other Christians who see the Bible more as a set of stories. I’ve typically taken the later view. It’s an easy position, men wrote it down we know that. They are inherently imperfect (i.e. not God). Did they feel inspired by God when they wrote it? Undoubtedly. That doesn’t make everyone who feels “inspired” right.

When I started this blog I posed a question which was, can one consider oneself a Christian if one does not believe that Jesus was the son of God? What has become clear to me after studying these early Christian’s is that whether or not Jesus was the actual messiah, those who wrote the texts of the New Testament certainly believed he was. And it is that belief that shaped everything they wrote, did, said, you name it.

To follow my thoughts to a (hopefully) logical conclusion – if Christianity is the result of the writings and teachings of the early Christians interpretation of Jesus as the son of God whose death and resurrection fulfilled the contract with God and the Jews, then yes – one does have to agree with these ideas to be considered a Christian. As the closest group to Jesus, who himself left no writings, all we have are their interpretations. They define the religion.

The difficulty comes when one begins to understand all the other texts that have surfaced in the last 100 or so years that are also written by early Christians that present a very different view of what Jesus’ message was. Which do I believe? All, because they are all “God-breathed”? Just the traditional cannon, a survival of the fittest gospel concept? Or none, because how can one know. Do I just choose what I like? That’s what most early Christian sects did, they picked the writings that supported their view and discarded the rest. Its human nature I supposed.

My conundrum continues, what is a person who believes in God but does not necessarily believe in Jesus as the son of God? Maybe I am a Jew by definition – that is pending the answer to the question in paragraph 2. Also, how do we reconcile the extreme differences of God presented in the Old and New Testament? I can’t seem to just accept that the Bible is true. I don’t have a problem with accepting God even though he’s less provable than the Bible. I wonder why this is. It makes my head hurt just thinking about it!

the bible blog

I recently ran across this blog: blogging the bible: What’s really in the Good Book from slate.com. David Plotz decided to read the bible and blog his findings. The concept was fascinating to me, yet so simple. One of those “why didn’t I think of that!” moments.

I’m not even through Genesis yet and I’m hooked. The entries are funny and enlightening. It probably won’t sit well with the traditional bible readers. Of which, I am certainly not one. I associate reading the Bible with the dreaded Bible-thumpers, those who are not interested in my opinions, but just want to preach to me and convert me to their way of thinking. A very judgmental view I can see now. Mr. Plotz is not afraid to admit his own ignorance. He asks questions (for which there are plenty of responses in the comments section!)

I was impressed with David’s undertaking. The bible is a daunting book. My dad gave me one when I was nine. Always the avid reader, I cracked it open. I don’t think I made it past the third begat. And I’ve never picked it up since. This is too bad really. As I read David’s blog on the Bible it becomes more and more something I want to experience for myself. After all, this is the whole reason Martin Luther had the Bible translated into German – so that the common folks could read it.

One of the things that Mr. Plotz is most amazed with (at least so far, he’s not done yet) is the presence of really horrid events that take place in the Bible. It made me realize how much I’ve assumed about the Bible and how far I really have to go to come to terms with it. It’s a book, or set of books, that no on wholly understands. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many other books written about it and people wouldn’t gather in living rooms to continually discuss it! Anyone (including myself) who wants to journey to a better understanding of religion or God has to read and struggle with these words for themselves.