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Why do you understand the Bible?

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.
Hi Runner
I agree with paragraph 2.
What I cannot accept with my brain, I cannot accept with my heart.

I once said that God is problematic in the OT because the Hebrews, Israelites and Jews attributed everything to God,,,even what He did Not do. If one can accept this, everything becomes easier to understand.

That's all I'll say in this thread.

PS your last sentence is also true.


Staff member
What I can see from history...

God set things up perfectly and no sooner than it was set up man tried his best to destroy what God set up. From the Garden in Eden to Aaron's sons to Achin to Annanias and Sapphira.
But God
Had Messengers to help set things straight. From Abel to Noah to Joseph to Moses to Jeremiah to John the Baptist to Constantine to Martin Luther to Billy Graham.

There comes times in our history that God had to just about wipe Everyone out. From the flood to The Exile to Diaspora to the Dark Ages...just to erase the board and start again.

Then when dealing with prophecy... apparently we have another "Erasure" coming up in the future. This one is going to be final.

When we major on the minors... like hand washing (they once measured the water for each hand)
Or completely forget/discount what God has said (Hezekiah, Elijah, Joash, or Luther) the reckoning is coming.

Today there's a hostility like never before...words and actions don't ever seem to match and nobody seems to notice.. but that's how this nation started...with a guerilla war between the denominations trying to escape the guerilla war in Europe.


Do I have flaws in my theological positions?
I'm sure that I do.

Can I change?
Maybe...but I don't think so.