Saturday, June 21, 2014

How Can a Fallible Bible Be Inspired?

Over the past several months we’ve been doing a lot of deconstruction work with the Bible on my blog, discussing how an unquestioning reading of Scripture leads to a lot of hurt. It’s an important conversation to have, one motivated by compassion. Because we care about people, and because we love the Bible we need to confront a way of reading that justifies harm as wrong. Still, even so, it’s hard. It takes a toll because, even though we believe we are doing something good, it cuts away at our old beliefs in the process, and that means it cuts us. After doing that kind of hard deconstructive work it can feel like there’s nothing left to stand on. 

Brian McLaren recently compared this process of deconstruction to peeling an onion, 

“Every new conception of God necessarily requires doubting or rejecting the prevailing conception of God… For many, the process is like peeling an onion. First they lose faith in the 6-day creationist god, then in the bible-dictation god, then in the male-supremacy god, then in the european-supremacy/western-civilization/colonialist god, then in the anti-gay god, … eventually, every layer of the onion is peeled away and one is left with nothing, but maybe some tears. The fear of being left with nothing leaves many people desperately afraid to question anything, which might be a good definition of fundamentalism. … The question, I think, is this: what happens after one peels away the onion and faces the possibility that there is nothing left” 

With the Bible in particular the question we are left with in the end boils down to this: After we strip away the hurtful unquestioning way of reading the Bible, what does it then mean to read Scripture as scripture? Once we lose the “God said it that settles it” approach, in what sense can we say the Bible is inspired if that doesn’t mean “everything it says should be followed without question”? Are we left with seeing it as just a “human book” or is there a way to find God in there, just as we find God amongst the mess of our own broken lives and world?  

Read the rest here

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