Answering Tough Questions (part 1) | Does the Bible Make Sense?
This young man asks some tough questions-- questions that have caused some people to leave the Christian faith. Over the next weeks, I will take a stab at answering one or some of the questions from a god stuff perspective. For today, let's just look at the first one.
Does the Bible make sense?
I grew up learning that the B.I.B.L.E. is a "treasure book that tells of Jesus' journey from Heaven to Earth and the map He left for us to follow Him there (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth). I looked at the Bible as the inerrant Word of GOD-- and that every word contained within was written by GOD for us. As I've gotten older, I have gained a more expansive understanding about GOD and the Bible and religion generally.
We know that GOD can't be confined in the box of religion or a book of rules. GOD is too massive for human comprehension. The only way we are able to comprehend GOD is to have an encounter with GOD-- an experience with GOD. That, in fact, is how I believe all sacred religions and books were written. Here is the process:
Man has an encounter with GOD (Experience with GOD)
Man processes encounter and reduces it to his so he can understand/ explain it (Knowledge/ Compartmentalism)
Man writes experience (Writing Bible)
Man translates Bible (Translates Bible)
Man reads another man's written experience (Reading Bible)
Man interprets Bible (Interprets Bible)
This formula shows how the Bible is at least 3 times removed from the source. How much is lost in this process?
Reading the Bible should be a process as well that leads the reader to an experience to GOD. But it is only the beginning of the process.
Man reads Bible
Man interprets reading
Man translates reading from brain to understanding
Man has experience(s) that help him learn GOD
Man encounters GOD
It's a cycle of sorts-- one that will take us on the journey to understand ourselves and (re)connect GOD in incomprehensible ways. The Bible doesn't make sense when it read it like a history book-- expecting all of the facts to line up. Here are a few more thoughts I have about the matter:
a. The Bible is a coded book
b. Although it is commonly interpreted this way today, the Bible was not meant to be interpreted literally. Rather, the Bible is a book stories with multiple layers of meaning that have to be interpreted and reinterpreted after different experiences and throughout different times. This is why one can read a Bible passage on one day and get one thing and read the same passage another day and get something entirely different.
c. The Bible will have the inconsistencies that confuse people if it is interpreted like a history book. It is not that (see a.).
d. It is not so much that the Bible is what GOD wanted us to know, but more about what the writers of the Bible wanted to convey about GOD to the people reading it at that time. Paul, for instance, was less interested in what WE, in the so-called 21st century would be saying about the Bible, and more concerned with what the people in his day would say about his letters written directly to them. I am sure He did not believe his words would be later interpreted as the infallible Word of GOD. If he did, he would have probably written different things.
e. The words of Paul are not the words of GOD. They are the words of Paul, albeit inspired by GOD. Inspired by GOD and spoken by GOD are distinct and different. I am inspired by GOD. So are songwriters and poets and teachers and preachers. Will our words become GOD’s WORD in another 2000 years?
f. The literal interpretation of the Bible is the reason why so many would-be believers leave the faith. It does not make sense (see c.).
g. Pharisees and Sadducees interpreted the scriptures of their day literally (see f.).
h. Ultimately, the Bible teaches man how to rise from his lower self and be reborn as his higher self; how to move from his lower animal nature /behavior to higher human nature / behavior; and from lower child nature /behavior to higher adult nature / behavior; and then from his lower human nature / behavior to his higher divine nature and behavior; from his lower adult nature / behavior to his higher god nature / behavior; from Adam to Christ; and then from Christ to GOD.
i. Others: from knowledge to life; from oppressed to free; from sinner to saved; from lost to found; from margins to center; from lost to found; from death to life; from punishment to reward; from darkness to light, from law to grace, from rejection to acceptance, from fall to rise
ii. Most religions teach us how to graduate from man to GOD. The unique part about Christianity is it has two steps (from man to Christ and from Christ to GOD). Unfortunately, most people don't graduate. They get stuck somewhere below GOD. And some never never have a real experience/ encounter with GOD because they think it improper to put down the textbook.