There’s a big discussion going on over at the Rapture-Ready Message Board concerning the current state of affairs in the Middle East. Lots and lots of people there are all a-flutter that “the Rapture” is nigh and they’re busily packing their spiritual suitcases in pregnant anticipation of “being raptured.” I got there through this Boing Boing post. Read through the posts; it’s pretty sad.
But the impending rapture is not what I’m on about. While reading some of those posts, I noticed one person’s signature line, which read:
The Bible is the only book whose Author is always present when you read it.
Sigh… People, God Himself did not write the Bible. The Bible is not a single book containing chapters with names like “Genesis,” “Exodus,” “Matthew” and “John.” It is, in fact, an anthology of many books written by many authors under many circumstances for many purposes. The authors of these books were not, as some seem to believe, taking dictation from God. They may have been inspired by God to write what they wrote, but He didn’t say “OK, Ezekial, write this down. ‘And lo…’.”
The Bible was written by human beings, who wrote for various reasons. Many years after all of these people were dead and gone, their writings were collected into a canon of works that were deemed important or useful for good Jewish and, later, Christian living. To hold up the Bible as something that God Himself wrote is missing the point.
Do I “believe” the Bible to be true. To that I give a qualified “yes.” I do not believe that every story in the Bible is historical fact. The bible contains history, allegory, myth, parable and, as such, it can not be completely true or completely false. I believe that the stories it contains are there to teach something and the point is to get to that “something.” As an aside, I am currently learning Greek so that I can try to read “the original Greek” manuscripts (of the New Testament) to get closer to the source. I put “the original Greek” in quotes because there is no such thing. The original manuscripts are long since lost. We have many copies, of various antiquity and various quality, that we can use, but “the originals” no longer exist. For an interesting read on this topic (textual criticism), check out Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus. My Sunday school class just finished this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anyway, my point is that one should not hold up the Bible as something to be worshiped or “believed” with blind faith. God gave us brains and the power of rational, logical thought for a reason. Don’t waste them.
17:42 Update: It appears that the folks at Rapture Ready have locked down their discussion boards. The link to the page I mentioned above now requires a username and password. You can still read some of the choice postings by following the Boing Boing link.