Thursday, April 09, 2015

Reading the Bible & Staying Christian

Yesterday I spent some time with a nice guy who has come for faith conversation on a number of occasions. He showed me the lesson outlines for a "life skills" program he is involved with in a local congregation with a conservative theology.

Each session is biblically based, which is encouraging. It was the "rules of the road" (my phrase) in the initial session which caught my eye. At the top of the list was "we will not argue or debate. The Bible is the final authority." The fellow admitted that the theology wasn't exactly United Church, and I didn't press the issue.

I do wonder how denominations come to the conclusion that conversation about the content of the bible cannot be discussed or debated. Someone, somewhere has decided what the authority of the bible is, and then they were brook no challenge to that interpretation, because of course that is what it is. The biblical text was not texted to us, or lowered down from on high. Yet some act as though it is, nearly always to their benefit.

Then I chatted with someone who is well versed in the bible but just can't read it anymore even though it was once a source of meaning and solace. It her setting it was employed to control others, including women, and she came to the point where that oppression wasn't acceptable --thank God.

The bible is essential to my faith and I can't imagine worshipping corporately without scripture as an essential aspect of our gathering together. Nor would I be able to frame my personal understanding of God and Christ without it. Yet I have seen how this marvellous narrative of God's saving love has been distorted and how the "texts of terror"  have been used to do terrible harm.

Amazon tells me that tomorrow my copy of  How to Read the Bible & Still Be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis through Revelation will arrive. I have appreciated John Dominic Crossan through the years, so I'll see what he has to say.

It is a great title because I have spoken with so many people who have been appalled when they read certain stories and even psalms. For all that, there is such a rich upwelling of grace and love in the bible.

How has your relationship with scripture unfolded? Does the bible matter to you? Are there parts that scare you? What about the grace and love?


Laura said...

Just read a good post Easter interpretation and realized how much we need the struggle of understanding the Word...for it is that very struggle that changes us deeply, matures us...a freedom that actually brings us home. Literalism scares and honestly, saddens me, me more than any specific story.

Frank said...

Good comment Laura. It wasn't until I discovered and experienced the release from the tyranny of literalism that I was able to find my way back to a faith based perspective; one that also included the rich nuance of scripture in a new light.