Is the Bible True? (Part 2)
And are we retelling these stories with the same motivation the original storytellers did?
There’s this thing that happens in conservative evangelical church culture that if you suggest a deeper understanding of what’s going on beyond the storyline of a passage that people begin freaking out. You’ll hear things like:
- Just read the passage (as if you haven’t already read the passage letting it sit in your mouth like a good piece of steak).
- Just believe what it simply says (do you mean the English words, or do you mean doing the work of understanding the Hebrew and Greek language because what we’re reading is not the original bible, we’re reading an English translation)
- And then when you get beyond that, it’s generally (not always and growing less and less) a politically conservative evangelical Christian who accuses you of trying to warp God’s word because they’ve got nothing left to hit you over the head with. I hate saying that out loud, but sadly, that resonates with many people, including myself.
- Which by the way is why the next generation who is trying to honor God by studying the original languages and cultures that scripture was written in, and understand what it is that God wants them to know, have a distaste for the conservative evangelical church. They get criticized when they don’t accept verbatim what others tell them to accept. That’s why you’ll find them leaving in droves for the Episcopal and Anglican Church. There’s openness to intelligence and debate and freedom to study in those circles that can quickly get shut down in a conservative evangelical world.
Me oh my… was I ranting there? Why yes I was and I have a reason for it. It’s to answer the question of this article that will hopefully answer the question of the original article.
So on to it:
What was the original motive for writing down the first biblical stories that had been passed down for a thousand years through campfire and dinner conversations?
- Was it to prove that the Bible was true? Well no, they didn’t have a bible yet.
- Was it to prove how God scientifically made the world? Which begs the question, is that a question that would have even entered their minds? I’m going to go ahead and stick my answer in the No camp here. No, these stories were not written down by Moses to scientifically prove anything. The world doesn’t need our proof that the Bible is scientifically true. The world needs revelation from scripture about who God truly is.
- Maybe the motivation for these stories was to show how God does things? Maybe? I still don’t think that’s the primary motivation for why we have these stories or why they were written down.
The motivation for passing along these first stories wasn’t about being right or about science or our ideologies. It was all rather simple actually.
The motivation for stories about creation, and Noah’s ark, and Abraham, and the whole Lot (see what I did there?) was to remind the people that God was active and at work in the world and that the great I AM has a plan for blessing all people through Abraham. These were stories of hope and endurance and calls to follow God because God knows where things are headed.
So are we retelling these stories with the same motivation that their original storytellers did? We are if we use them to point to God and God’s love, and God’s plan of making the heavens and the earth new again one day. Pointing people to Jesus who both the Hebrew and Greek scriptures point to. But not so much when we reduce them to science or proof arguments. That wasn’t their original purpose.
So how does that shape how we see our original question: Is the Bible true? The question now becomes more nuanced and we ask ourselves Does the Bible truly tell us about God? Because that’s way more interesting than answering the question, “Is the Bible true?” And the answer to that question is Yes. But I promise, at some point we’ll get back to the original question.
Part 3 of this series will deal with interpretation directly. The question of whether the Bible is true or not and all of the nuances this draws in cannot be answered without having a process of interpretation.
Is the Bible true?
- Part 1: Or maybe the better question is, “How is the Bible true?”
- Part 2: Are we retelling these stories with the same motivation the original storytellers did?
- Part 3: A process for getting at that question
- Part 4: Donkeys, Elephants, and Poems
- Part 5: Wild boars are the key to unlocking it all
- Part 6: Onions in PaRaDiSe
- Part 7: The God and Satan Contradiction
- Part 8: Creation to New Creation
- Part 9: Answering the question