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Why do you understand the Bible?

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#61
Hi Free
I'm sure that once the gentiles became believers in our Lord, they were taught about Adam, Noah Abraham, Moses, David, etc.

I'm sure they were also taught the moral law.

The more intelligent or educated most probably knew about them anyway...in the same sense that we know about the big names in history although they are NOT part of our culture. However the others probably did not know israel's history.

Comment?
The only needed the commandment love God and others. Do, not don't do.
 
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#62
There is nothing in those verses to suggest that Gentile believers only had the gospel preached and not the Law and the Prophets, or other parts of the OT. The NT cannot be taught while ignoring the OT.
Hi Free, I'm sure they knew the OT type and purpose of God's dealing with mankind and the calling of Israel....That is part of the Gospel narrative. It is the OT that the NT points to. The NT was not published at that time, but The letters were circulated then that are part of the NT as we know it. But they were not indoctrinated into the Jewish customs and Laws of Moses as some legalist tried to do. That was the point I was making.
 
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#66
I'm not a biblical scholar by any means.

I think what helped me was when one day I said to myself "what is it I believe and why"

I only really knew what I was told or heard in church and therefore if must be true.

So I became like a Berean.

It was hard because now my thought patterns were being challenged.

I learned so much.

I researched, context, culture and history.

I undertook looking at the commands of Jesus, given the context and culture.
It was fascinating.

I hope you don't mind but I would like to post one of them, where Jesus said "Go the extra mile"
It is a bit long


Matthew 5:38-42

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Tonight's command is a term that we have probably heard as "Go the extra mile"

As you can see above the preceding verses Jesus talks about an eye for an eye, then goes on to say "if someone slaps you on your cheek let him slap the other cheek, if someone wants to sue you for some of your possessions give them all you have.

I'm not sure if you know but in v38 Jesus is referring to an Old Testament Law known as the Law of
Lex Talionis or in today's speak the Law of retaliation, basically this law covered what type of punishment should be meted out to transgressors. It limited the retribution that an offender would have to endure. Basically the punishment was dependent upon the intent of the transgression.

Then we find in v39-40 Jesus saying if someone is evil enough that he wants to slap you on the face let them do it again, if an evil person wants your shirt, hey let him have your coat as well.

To me it is obvious that if Jesus is referring to an evil person then it is obvious that their intent is to harm you. If we only read his words then to me it seems like Jesus is saying "Roll over and be a door mat, be a punch bag and don't retaliate"

I have to say that I don't think that Jesus is saying roll over and be a punch bag.

We need to remember that what Jesus related to those around him in a way that they would have understood, the culture, the religion of Judaism and the law of the land.

As I said above the Law of Retaliation was used to determine what punishment was appropriate for any harm done and to ensure it was fair. So there was a deterrent in place, that protected the abused from further abuse and the abuser from being accused falsely. Rome had laws in place to ensure civil rights as well.

Today we have laws in the land which ensure civil rights as well, the right to be protected. When we are in a situation that we are being continually harmed we have a right to say no and if need be take further action, either by reporting it or walking away from that situation.

Now to the command which I will try to put into its context.

Jesus lived in a time of Roman occupation. The Roman Empire was vast, it covered 1,061,781 sq miles. Now in those days there were no planes, trains and automobiles. How on earth could they have have gotten so big? There is a way that they could do it and this is where v41 comes in, and the audience would have fully been aware of this.

There was a law in place that allowed the Roman Soldiers to commandeer any civilian to carry their battle fatigues for one mile (remember that the Romans commandeered Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus's cross) when they had carried it for mile then they could commandeer another civilian to do the next mile. This way the soldiers were not fatigued and would be ready for battle.

To the audience, the Jews this would have been horrific, imagine the thoughts "Hey we hate the Romans, you claim to be the Messiah (and those he was speaking to were expecting the Messiah to release them from the Roman rule they were under) and yet your asking us to go another mile, man your crazy, your asking us to help the Romans"

The Roman soldier was not a respecter of religion, he had a job to do and if you didn't help him then basically your signing your death warrant because he himself would be punished for not getting his job done, but what if he commandeered you on the Sabbath? The Jews were told to rest from work on the Sabbath and if you did not it was an issue to them. Also the person commandeered may have been going about their own business but would be expected to drop what they were doing, walk one mile with the soldier and then walk back that mile to carry on what they were doing.

So why would Jesus ask them to go the extra mile when it could violate the Law that God gave?

Firstly let's remember that Jesus said that he had come to fulfil the law as God originally intended.

Jesus came to Israel and told them repent for the kingdom of God had come, I am the way, the truth, the only work that God requires is that you believe in the one whom he sent and that is me.

Jesus made it quite clear that he was sent by God to reconcile all men to him, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

I said earlier that I believe that this command is Jesus revealing that there is an opportunity here and I would like to explain it as follows. Thought I would do it with a Roman soldier and a Jewish male of the time. Then I'm going to look at it with those that believed. I won't do it grammatically as it could look messy. RS = Roman Soldier, NB = Non Believer CB = Christ Believer.

RS - Hey you, come over here. Now I want you to carry my stuff here for a mile.
NB- Sorry but I'm a Jew and as it's the Sabbath I can't work today, (does not have to be the Sabbath but it could be that they were doing something else)
RS - I don't care for your religion, I have a job to do and if don't do it then I'm in trouble and your breaking the law for which the penalty is death. I'm in trouble but your dead.


RS - Hey you come over here. Now I want you to carry my stuff here for a mile.
CB - Ok.
RS - Right that's your mile done you can go now.
CB - That's ok I don't mind carrying on for another mile.
RS - Why would you want to do that? I've burdened you per the requirement of the law.
CB - I'm not under the law, Jesus fulfilled the law, and gave me a new one.
RS - Who is this Jesus? What law you taking about?
CB - Jesus is God in the flesh, I believe in him, he came to save you and me. Jesus asked me
to be like him, show you what God is really like, he loves you and has asked me to love you.
So by actions, thoughts and deeds I'm following Jesus's law which is to love you a much as
he loves me.

When we walk in that way the person who wants to slap your cheek and you offer them the other cheek may not want to slap but kiss it, when you offer your shirt they may say no, let me give you mine. It's an opportunity but unless we give them that opportunity we may never know.

What opportunities may arise? They will be different for all of us. God has given us different people both Christian and non Christian, the fact his he has called us to be like Jesus. We are his representatives to those he has given us.

Sorry for my long post.
 
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#67
I'm not a biblical scholar by any means.

I think what helped me was when one day I said to myself "what is it I believe and why"

I only really knew what I was told or heard in church and therefore if must be true.

So I became like a Berean.

It was hard because now my thought patterns were being challenged.

I learned so much.

I researched, context, culture and history.

I undertook looking at the commands of Jesus, given the context and culture.
It was fascinating.

I hope you don't mind but I would like to post one of them, where Jesus said "Go the extra mile"
It is a bit long


Matthew 5:38-42

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Tonight's command is a term that we have probably heard as "Go the extra mile"

As you can see above the preceding verses Jesus talks about an eye for an eye, then goes on to say "if someone slaps you on your cheek let him slap the other cheek, if someone wants to sue you for some of your possessions give them all you have.

I'm not sure if you know but in v38 Jesus is referring to an Old Testament Law known as the Law of
Lex Talionis or in today's speak the Law of retaliation, basically this law covered what type of punishment should be meted out to transgressors. It limited the retribution that an offender would have to endure. Basically the punishment was dependent upon the intent of the transgression.

Then we find in v39-40 Jesus saying if someone is evil enough that he wants to slap you on the face let them do it again, if an evil person wants your shirt, hey let him have your coat as well.

To me it is obvious that if Jesus is referring to an evil person then it is obvious that their intent is to harm you. If we only read his words then to me it seems like Jesus is saying "Roll over and be a door mat, be a punch bag and don't retaliate"

I have to say that I don't think that Jesus is saying roll over and be a punch bag.

We need to remember that what Jesus related to those around him in a way that they would have understood, the culture, the religion of Judaism and the law of the land.

As I said above the Law of Retaliation was used to determine what punishment was appropriate for any harm done and to ensure it was fair. So there was a deterrent in place, that protected the abused from further abuse and the abuser from being accused falsely. Rome had laws in place to ensure civil rights as well.

Today we have laws in the land which ensure civil rights as well, the right to be protected. When we are in a situation that we are being continually harmed we have a right to say no and if need be take further action, either by reporting it or walking away from that situation.

Now to the command which I will try to put into its context.

Jesus lived in a time of Roman occupation. The Roman Empire was vast, it covered 1,061,781 sq miles. Now in those days there were no planes, trains and automobiles. How on earth could they have have gotten so big? There is a way that they could do it and this is where v41 comes in, and the audience would have fully been aware of this.

There was a law in place that allowed the Roman Soldiers to commandeer any civilian to carry their battle fatigues for one mile (remember that the Romans commandeered Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus's cross) when they had carried it for mile then they could commandeer another civilian to do the next mile. This way the soldiers were not fatigued and would be ready for battle.

To the audience, the Jews this would have been horrific, imagine the thoughts "Hey we hate the Romans, you claim to be the Messiah (and those he was speaking to were expecting the Messiah to release them from the Roman rule they were under) and yet your asking us to go another mile, man your crazy, your asking us to help the Romans"

The Roman soldier was not a respecter of religion, he had a job to do and if you didn't help him then basically your signing your death warrant because he himself would be punished for not getting his job done, but what if he commandeered you on the Sabbath? The Jews were told to rest from work on the Sabbath and if you did not it was an issue to them. Also the person commandeered may have been going about their own business but would be expected to drop what they were doing, walk one mile with the soldier and then walk back that mile to carry on what they were doing.

So why would Jesus ask them to go the extra mile when it could violate the Law that God gave?

Firstly let's remember that Jesus said that he had come to fulfil the law as God originally intended.

Jesus came to Israel and told them repent for the kingdom of God had come, I am the way, the truth, the only work that God requires is that you believe in the one whom he sent and that is me.

Jesus made it quite clear that he was sent by God to reconcile all men to him, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

I said earlier that I believe that this command is Jesus revealing that there is an opportunity here and I would like to explain it as follows. Thought I would do it with a Roman soldier and a Jewish male of the time. Then I'm going to look at it with those that believed. I won't do it grammatically as it could look messy. RS = Roman Soldier, NB = Non Believer CB = Christ Believer.

RS - Hey you, come over here. Now I want you to carry my stuff here for a mile.
NB- Sorry but I'm a Jew and as it's the Sabbath I can't work today, (does not have to be the Sabbath but it could be that they were doing something else)
RS - I don't care for your religion, I have a job to do and if don't do it then I'm in trouble and your breaking the law for which the penalty is death. I'm in trouble but your dead.


RS - Hey you come over here. Now I want you to carry my stuff here for a mile.
CB - Ok.
RS - Right that's your mile done you can go now.
CB - That's ok I don't mind carrying on for another mile.
RS - Why would you want to do that? I've burdened you per the requirement of the law.
CB - I'm not under the law, Jesus fulfilled the law, and gave me a new one.
RS - Who is this Jesus? What law you taking about?
CB - Jesus is God in the flesh, I believe in him, he came to save you and me. Jesus asked me
to be like him, show you what God is really like, he loves you and has asked me to love you.
So by actions, thoughts and deeds I'm following Jesus's law which is to love you a much as
he loves me.

When we walk in that way the person who wants to slap your cheek and you offer them the other cheek may not want to slap but kiss it, when you offer your shirt they may say no, let me give you mine. It's an opportunity but unless we give them that opportunity we may never know.

What opportunities may arise? They will be different for all of us. God has given us different people both Christian and non Christian, the fact his he has called us to be like Jesus. We are his representatives to those he has given us.

Sorry for my long post.
Good info. to check out, to us it means that you have read the bible in some areas.
 
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#72
That is good, How did you enjoy your Thanksgiving? Giving thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I Thessalonians 5:18
We don't do Thanksgiving over here like my American friends do.

Funnily enough I have just posted on another site

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

The next verse is

Romans 8:29
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

during my darkest days (I prayed for God to take my life)
But I came to realise that if I was waking up every morning then there must be a purpose.

That purpose is to work good in me so that I may be conformed to the image of Christ.

As he does that, I decrease and Jesus increases in me.
I become more like him and hopefully others see it.

For that every day I now thank him, even though I may struggle with myself.

To be honest I don't get your response above.
It comes across as if you are going at me.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
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Male
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#74
We don't do Thanksgiving over here like my American friends do.

Funnily enough I have just posted on another site

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

The next verse is

Romans 8:29
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

during my darkest days (I prayed for God to take my life)
But I came to realise that if I was waking up every morning then there must be a purpose.

That purpose is to work good in me so that I may be conformed to the image of Christ.

As he does that, I decrease and Jesus increases in me.
I become more like him and hopefully others see it.

For that every day I now thank him, even though I may struggle with myself.

To be honest I don't get your response above.
It comes across as if you are going at me.
No, not at you at all, Just speaking of some kind words.
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
2,488
Christian
Yes
#75
I'm not a biblical scholar by any means.

I think what helped me was when one day I said to myself "what is it I believe and why"

I only really knew what I was told or heard in church and therefore if must be true.

So I became like a Berean.

It was hard because now my thought patterns were being challenged.

I learned so much.

I researched, context, culture and history.

I undertook looking at the commands of Jesus, given the context and culture.
It was fascinating.

I hope you don't mind but I would like to post one of them, where Jesus said "Go the extra mile"
It is a bit long


Matthew 5:38-42

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Tonight's command is a term that we have probably heard as "Go the extra mile"

As you can see above the preceding verses Jesus talks about an eye for an eye, then goes on to say "if someone slaps you on your cheek let him slap the other cheek, if someone wants to sue you for some of your possessions give them all you have.

I'm not sure if you know but in v38 Jesus is referring to an Old Testament Law known as the Law of
Lex Talionis or in today's speak the Law of retaliation, basically this law covered what type of punishment should be meted out to transgressors. It limited the retribution that an offender would have to endure. Basically the punishment was dependent upon the intent of the transgression.

Then we find in v39-40 Jesus saying if someone is evil enough that he wants to slap you on the face let them do it again, if an evil person wants your shirt, hey let him have your coat as well.

To me it is obvious that if Jesus is referring to an evil person then it is obvious that their intent is to harm you. If we only read his words then to me it seems like Jesus is saying "Roll over and be a door mat, be a punch bag and don't retaliate"

I have to say that I don't think that Jesus is saying roll over and be a punch bag.

We need to remember that what Jesus related to those around him in a way that they would have understood, the culture, the religion of Judaism and the law of the land.

As I said above the Law of Retaliation was used to determine what punishment was appropriate for any harm done and to ensure it was fair. So there was a deterrent in place, that protected the abused from further abuse and the abuser from being accused falsely. Rome had laws in place to ensure civil rights as well.

Today we have laws in the land which ensure civil rights as well, the right to be protected. When we are in a situation that we are being continually harmed we have a right to say no and if need be take further action, either by reporting it or walking away from that situation.

Now to the command which I will try to put into its context.

Jesus lived in a time of Roman occupation. The Roman Empire was vast, it covered 1,061,781 sq miles. Now in those days there were no planes, trains and automobiles. How on earth could they have have gotten so big? There is a way that they could do it and this is where v41 comes in, and the audience would have fully been aware of this.

There was a law in place that allowed the Roman Soldiers to commandeer any civilian to carry their battle fatigues for one mile (remember that the Romans commandeered Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus's cross) when they had carried it for mile then they could commandeer another civilian to do the next mile. This way the soldiers were not fatigued and would be ready for battle.

To the audience, the Jews this would have been horrific, imagine the thoughts "Hey we hate the Romans, you claim to be the Messiah (and those he was speaking to were expecting the Messiah to release them from the Roman rule they were under) and yet your asking us to go another mile, man your crazy, your asking us to help the Romans"

The Roman soldier was not a respecter of religion, he had a job to do and if you didn't help him then basically your signing your death warrant because he himself would be punished for not getting his job done, but what if he commandeered you on the Sabbath? The Jews were told to rest from work on the Sabbath and if you did not it was an issue to them. Also the person commandeered may have been going about their own business but would be expected to drop what they were doing, walk one mile with the soldier and then walk back that mile to carry on what they were doing.

So why would Jesus ask them to go the extra mile when it could violate the Law that God gave?

Firstly let's remember that Jesus said that he had come to fulfil the law as God originally intended.

Jesus came to Israel and told them repent for the kingdom of God had come, I am the way, the truth, the only work that God requires is that you believe in the one whom he sent and that is me.

Jesus made it quite clear that he was sent by God to reconcile all men to him, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

I said earlier that I believe that this command is Jesus revealing that there is an opportunity here and I would like to explain it as follows. Thought I would do it with a Roman soldier and a Jewish male of the time. Then I'm going to look at it with those that believed. I won't do it grammatically as it could look messy. RS = Roman Soldier, NB = Non Believer CB = Christ Believer.

RS - Hey you, come over here. Now I want you to carry my stuff here for a mile.
NB- Sorry but I'm a Jew and as it's the Sabbath I can't work today, (does not have to be the Sabbath but it could be that they were doing something else)
RS - I don't care for your religion, I have a job to do and if don't do it then I'm in trouble and your breaking the law for which the penalty is death. I'm in trouble but your dead.


RS - Hey you come over here. Now I want you to carry my stuff here for a mile.
CB - Ok.
RS - Right that's your mile done you can go now.
CB - That's ok I don't mind carrying on for another mile.
RS - Why would you want to do that? I've burdened you per the requirement of the law.
CB - I'm not under the law, Jesus fulfilled the law, and gave me a new one.
RS - Who is this Jesus? What law you taking about?
CB - Jesus is God in the flesh, I believe in him, he came to save you and me. Jesus asked me
to be like him, show you what God is really like, he loves you and has asked me to love you.
So by actions, thoughts and deeds I'm following Jesus's law which is to love you a much as
he loves me.

When we walk in that way the person who wants to slap your cheek and you offer them the other cheek may not want to slap but kiss it, when you offer your shirt they may say no, let me give you mine. It's an opportunity but unless we give them that opportunity we may never know.

What opportunities may arise? They will be different for all of us. God has given us different people both Christian and non Christian, the fact his he has called us to be like Jesus. We are his representatives to those he has given us.

Sorry for my long post.
Good Talk.
 

LovethroughDove

Me and my kids in my avatar.
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#76
Why do you believe you understand the Bible, especially the New Testament? Jesus
Is it important to also understand the Old Testament? It's important to appreciate the Old Testament, you should understand it also
Did you learn from reading it? Yes, but after I read the New
From studying under the guidance of a church? No
Studying theology? No
From the Holy Spirit? Yes
Why do you think you are right in your theology? Jesus is what love looks like to me.

Pick one or all.
It's problematic to me that we are not united in our beliefs.
 
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#77
just jumping in here....

I think God calls people to repentance. Maybe its because I grew up (very) liberal Presbyterian, maybe its because I had a counselor encouraging me to read RC Sproul before my own conversion...but...yeah. I lean towards TULIP, predestination, etc.

So...since God moved on my heart and I got genuinely saved, everything that's been poured into me has brought forth fruit, Praise God (!!!).

I -get- Scripture now, much better than before God moved on my heart and I repented...because of Christ. Keep in mind; I was an electroshocked, brain damaged, hot mess facing a felony when I got saved. I ended up with a misdemeanor, a new personality, family reconciliation, and (somehow...) a high(er) IQ estimate. God is good!

I think that God has a chosen Elect and when He calls His people to repentance, they/we respond ("...the sheep know my voice..."), and from that point on, He provides what we/they need to understand Scripture well enough to do His will. Very few become theologians, but work-a-day Christians are equal in His eyes, after all.
 
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#78
just jumping in here....

I think God calls people to repentance. Maybe its because I grew up (very) liberal Presbyterian, maybe its because I had a counselor encouraging me to read RC Sproul before my own conversion...but...yeah. I lean towards TULIP, predestination, etc.

So...since God moved on my heart and I got genuinely saved, everything that's been poured into me has brought forth fruit, Praise God (!!!).

I -get- Scripture now, much better than before God moved on my heart and I repented...because of Christ. Keep in mind; I was an electroshocked, brain damaged, hot mess facing a felony when I got saved. I ended up with a misdemeanor, a new personality, family reconciliation, and (somehow...) a high(er) IQ estimate. God is good!

I think that God has a chosen Elect and when He calls His people to repentance, they/we respond ("...the sheep know my voice..."), and from that point on, He provides what we/they need to understand Scripture well enough to do His will. Very few become theologians, but work-a-day Christians are equal in His eyes, after all.
1 Corinthians 2:14-15...
NASB


But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15But he who is spiritual appraises all things,...
 
R

Runner

Guest
#80
Why do you believe you understand the Bible, especially the New Testament?
Is it important to also understand the Old Testament?
Did you learn from reading it?
From studying under the guidance of a church?
Studying theology?
From the Holy Spirit?
Why do you think you are right in your theology?

Pick one or all.
It's problematic to me that we are not united in our beliefs.
God has blessed me with the intelligence and analytical and intuitive abilities to be as capable as anyone else of reading and understanding the Bible. I believe that my abilities are guided and informed by the Holy Spirit. I have likewise informed myself through theological studies, both Christian and non-Christian, that greatly exceed those of the vast majority of people. I have not done all that I could, of course, because a human lifetime is not sufficient to do all that might be done in the quest for spiritual truth, but I have put forth (and continue to put forth) my best effort.

My theology is my best understanding of spiritual truth based on what I have described in the first paragraph. It is what I believe to be true and what I am, at my core, intuitively capable of believing. Beyond this, I don’t care whether my reading of the Bible is “correct” or my theology is “right.” I don’t care whether it meshes with anyone else’s understanding. I am not going to pretend to believe anything that I am constitutionally and intuitively incapable of believing.

I firmly believe that the quest for a “correct” understanding of the Bible often becomes a species of mental illness. I don’t say this to be insulting or glib. I am genuinely convinced that Bible idolatry is a species of mental disorder that infects "Christianity" like the plague. It infects sites such as this like the plague.

The Bible is a flawed, ambiguous, internally inconsistent collection of books comprising (my rough guesstimates) 20% historical truth, 40% fantasy and myth (some of which expresses profound spiritual truth), 20% primitive hogwash, and 20% practical and spiritual guidance. The challenge is to identify and apply the profound spiritual truth and the practical and spiritual guidance.

Many people seem to have a deep psychological need to pretend that the Bible is not flawed, ambiguous and internally inconsistent and is not a diverse collection of largely unrelated books but is instead a God-inspired whole. This Bible becomes an idol to be worshiped. Because it is viewed as a God-inspired whole, it must have a single “correct” meaning. All of the obvious flaws, ambiguities and internal inconsistencies must be harmonized. The fantasy and myth must be treated as historical truth. The primitive hogwash must be whitewashed. Anyone who disagrees with the “correct” understanding - meaning, of course, my understanding - must be wrong, and perhaps not even a Christian.

This view of the Bible leads to the sort of divisive, insular, self-righteous “Christianity” we see on sites such as this. This sort of “Christianity” is the poorest advertisement for Jesus one could imagine. I do not believe Jesus would recognize it as having anything to do with anything he was talking about.

The central problem with this sort of “Christianity” is not that our sinful selves cause us to spin the Bible to say what we want it to say. The problem is the very premise that the Bible is an internally consistent, God-inspired whole. With any other book containing such flaws, ambiguities, internal inconsistencies and hogwash, we would simply recognize, acknowledge and deal with the problems in a heartbeat. But because many of us feel compelled to defend and worship the Bible as a God-inspired whole, it escapes the scrutiny any other book would receive. We laugh at ancient Greek mythology but feel compelled to treat ancient Jewish mythology (largely based on even more ancient mythologies) as historical and scientific truth. The problem must be us (or at least anyone who disagrees with us), not the Bible.

Many people have a psychological need for an anchor, a rock of certainty to cling to in life’s sea of uncertainty that surrounds them. They cannot live with ambiguity and mystery in their religion. They thus invent a Bible that doesn’t really exist, one that is far shallower than the real Bible, and then angrily defend this idol against non-Christians and Christians alike. In so doing, they to a large extent invent a God who doesn’t really exist, a God far smaller and less mysterious than the one who actually does exist. They invent a “Christianity” that has little to do with anything Jesus was talking about.

I have no great problem with anyone who has a deep psychological need to practice Bible idolatry and to cling to what seems to me a shallow, simplistic view of the Bible and a shallow, simplistic theology. If that's what a sincere spiritual quest has caused you to believe, or what you are psychologically compelled to believe in order to cope with the uncertainties of life, be my guest. Many people, for many reasons, are incapable of going deeper. There is no reason to believe they must go deeper in order to be good Christians.

What I do have a large problem with is the notion that this is the only way to view the Bible. Those who hold this notion absolutely revel in their willful ignorance, in their rejection of everything that differs from what they think the Bible tells them ("Who ya gonna believe, Genesis 1 or your own lying brain and eyes?"). A more mature approach to spirituality is viewed as "too intellectual," "lacking in faith," perhaps even un-Christian. God wants puppets, not seekers.

This notion is not only obviously incorrect (in my opinion) but leads to precisely the sort of disunity and disharmony we see at sites such as this. It is not even a healthy attitude for those who hold it, because it causes them to obsess over doctrine and to be constantly defending their views against anyone who disagrees with them and distracts them from leading the sorts of lives that were the real focus of Jesus' message.