Is the Bible Worth Reading?
Continued from yesterday…
This may be a good time to share why I think the Bible is still worth reading. Because I get it: unless we are afraid to question what we read in the Bible (which is not uncommon in many church circles) most of us may at times find the Bible to be out of touch, confusing, and morally suspect. There’s just a lot in the Bible that’s weird.
That is not too surprising considering the Bible is an ancient book (or should I say a compilation of 66 ancient books) written over the course of 2000 years. The last book was written almost 2000 years ago—long before there were any satellites in space that could instantly transmit our latest opinions to the world through Facebook Live.
So if we go to the Bible looking for the perfect “recipe” to follow in a culture where cable news, Twitter, or anything Kardashian is the daily diet, then we may just wonder if the Bible has anything to offer us today.
So what is the Bible? After decades of studying and teaching the Bible, I would suggest that it’s not so much a history book (although there’s much history in there). It’s not really a theological discourse with rules to obey, either (even though there are many rules in there). It’s a story about humanity’s quest to understand the purpose of life by interacting with what they perceived to be God…in the time and place they lived.
And that’s an important distinction, because a book that spans the writings of at least 40 writers over a period of 2000 years is bound to align with when and where the writers lived. In the early writings, God was a pretty vindictive, controlling, war-mongering figure, but then gets progressively nicer. Finally, by the end of the Bible, the descriptions turn passionately to God is love (and I doubt this progression has anything to do with God aging.)
Even in the New Testament, which was supposedly written over the course of less than 50 years, the writers, often in conflict with each other, struggled to make sense of how the life of love that Jesus introduced should be expressed in their community and in the world.
To be continued tomorrow…
Adapted from Section 2 of Awakening To I Am Love by David Youngren
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