I Don’t Believe in the Bible!

Bible - Not

There is too much “belief” in the Bible based on lack of understanding of the Bible and its role in the life of the faithing community.

2 Timothy 3:14-17          14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

[Scripture quotation from Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

[Image: “Creative Commons Bible science” by Joe Flintham, used under CC BY / Desaturated from original]

Thinking through 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Be fully cognizant of what you have learned and its effects on your practice of faithing. Pay special attention to who your teachers (and other influences) have been.  Keep a child-like attitude as you mature as a follower of the Way lived and taught by Yeshua*. There is a special place for scripture in the process of your faith formation. It will give you clues about how to interpret that unheard inner voice of insistence that comes in the name of God. Perhaps*. Some will attempt to enshrine scripture, giving it ultimate authority over every aspect of life. Be careful not to treat scripture like a god. Don’t get me wrong, scripture is exceedingly “useful” as we continue to grow in the practice of faithing — we continue to learn from scripture; it reminds us when we stray from the Way’s path; it even tutors us in dignity and justice. All this to the end that we who claim to belong to God might be proficient practitioners of the Way of Yeshua., demonstrating love, compassion, peace, justice, and wholeness.

I don’t believe in the Bible!

I just don’t!

I know that,

as a Teaching Elder,

I am expected to…

but I don’t!

And that’s OK.

Since SCOTUS handed down

it’s decision on

same-sex marriage

a significant group

of Christians

have gone ballistic…

citing “God’s law” and

“the Bible says”

assuming that

they have proved their case

namely,

that there is a clear

God-given (even God-demanded)

Biblically proven

one way (and only one)

— their way — 

that marriage can be understood.

While I may disagree with their conclusion

while I am not willing to accept that

they ‘channel’ God or that

they have an inside track on

what the Bible means…

I am willing to let them have

their understanding of God

their reading and/or interpretation of the Bible

I am willing to give them the courtesy of

practicing their faithing in their own style.

I am NOT willing to let them dictate

how I read and/or interpret the Bible

how I understand God or no-God

how I practice my faithing

I am willing to sit down

and dialogue with them

about God

about interpreting scripture

about the practice of faithing

within the Christian tradition…

I will NOT stand for

a diatribe designed

to pummel and upbraid me

because I do not do it their way.

I do not believe in the Bible

because it is

a tool for the practice of faithing

not the essence or object of faith

a finger pointing toward wholeness in life

not life itself

a collective witness from those on the journey of faithing

not a manual dictating the specific steps of the journey

a series of essays, songs, stories, and more written by those on the journey

not a dictation from a transcendent super-being.

I do believe, with 2 Timothy 3:16 that scripture is exceedingly “useful” as we continue to grow in the practice of faithing. Its usefulness, however, is not primarily in directing our attention heavenward or providing us with scientific, historical, or cultural ‘facts’ which are designed to be a turn-by-turn GPS navigation system for constraining life’s journey and coercing it in one specific direction (usually heavenward). Instead scripture’s usefulness lies in its ability to arouse within us a passion for abundant life in the here and now, in the meantime. Does scripture give some directions (as opposed to demands)? Yes indeed! And the directions are only somewhat specific — for example, “do justice, love compassion, and live within a god-like humility” or Yeshua’s invitation to care for the poor, distressed, and suffering. The rest (namely, what we must do specifically in particular situations) is left up to us. Community among those desiring to be faithful to Yeshua’s Way is vitally important. Most of scripture’s capacity for “teaching” and “correcting” is accomplished in dialogue, in community. In fact, I am willing to suggest that the primary “use” of scripture is to begin dialogue among Christian practitioners about their faithing journey in the dailiness of life to the end that life not become a chore but, instead, a joyful and bountiful pilgrimage.

So…  do I believe in the Bible?

No… no… a thousand times ‘No!’

I use the Bible to begin and/or continue dialogue

about the direction of my life

and the efficacy of my journey.

I have a lover’s quarrel with scripture

because the context in which much of it was written

demanded (or, at least, generated)

a more powerful (violent) understanding of God

based upon a more primitive understanding of the world

(a more primitive sciencedependent upon a set of cultural criteria that make no sense today).

My lover’s quarrel with scripture

is often evidenced by

arguing with specific passages and/or authors

deconstructing and re-writing particular texts

turning scriptural arguments upside-down or inside-out.

In short,

I do not revere scripture,

I honor it!

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