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.]
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
a significant group
have gone ballistic…
citing “God’s law” and
“the Bible says”
they have proved their case
that there is a clear
God-given (even God-demanded)
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 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.
I do not revere scripture,
I honor it!