Rob Bell’s new book What We Talk About When We Talk About God is on pre-order, and true to form, he has a promo video that I love. He uses an Oldsmobile as a example of a great car that served him well, but the company that made them went out of business because it failed to keep itself relevant. Bell asks the question: Will the same thing happen to the church?
In it he mentions friends who heard a Mark Driscoll grade, church sanctioned misogyny, which I’ve heard, another sermon condemning all gays to hell, and a leader who told his congregation that if you don’t believe in a literal six day creation, you have to get rid of the rest of the Bible as well.
It’s that last bit that I really wanted to write about. When I was in high school, I went to a Christian private school. If I remember right it was sold as a non-denominational church, but a big segment of it’s staff and students all came from the same church. It was the biggest church in the county (if I remember right), so that does make a bit of sense. But I remember several of the people from that church that served as teachers or administrators saying exactly that.
If some of the Bible is wrong it is all wrong.
If I knew now what I knew then, I’d look them in the eye and say, “Than it’s all wrong,”
I do find it puzzling as to why someone would build their faith as a house of cards, but I’ve heard this a lot from the Evangelical camp. Why would anyone do that to their own faith or religion?
Here’s the things that they overlook:
- The Bible isn’t a book, it is a compendium or a collection of books.
- The Bible was formed by committees to canonize the New Testament, and then later the Old Testament. And those committees left some books on the cutting room floor, so to speak.
- The Bible they’re saying is perfect is in English.
These are truths about the history of the Bible that no one taught me. I’m serious about this. During a entire childhood of Sunday school classes, a couple of years of private Christian school, and most of a life time of sermons, none of these topics came up.
So, before this post becomes a long ramble. Let me summarize my thoughts. All English translations of the Bible are not perfect because they are in English. The Muslim and Jewish folks do themselves a great justice by learning Arabic or Hebrew and reading their own texts as their were penned. When listening to other people talk about Scripture, the times I enjoy the most are when people break down the Hebrew or Greek and give their thoughts on the subtly of the words. If words are moved from one language to another, in all but the most simple of phrases, something will be lost. Did you know that when Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him, the third time he used the Greek word “eros”?
If I was asked if I think that everything a Christian needs to be a Christian is in the Bible, I’d say yes.
I think that it is better to understand the Bible as being not a perfectly cut, immutable diamond, but something that does need to be worked with to understand. Some of it’s lessons are ones that can be eaten and digested simply, and other things that require time to properly come to understanding. Understanding the Bible with the house of cards approach is one that will needlessly cause people to ruin their own faith.