Most liberals like parts of the Bible–they usually like what Jesus said, but there are other parts of the Bible that they reject outright.
I am not like most liberals because I believe that the Bible is the Word of God and, as such, it’s true and it’s relevant, and it’s also authoritative.
But let me say that there are certain parts that I am really uncomfortable with as well.
But, I can’t easily reject them for two reasons.
Two Reasons I don’t Reject the Bible
One reason is my experience.
In the past, I have had some major problems with what the Bible says. Over the years, I often come to a realization that I had been misreading the Bible my whole life. I’ll be reading something or listening to a sermon and I find a beautiful resolution to these puzzling passages.
Take, for example, the problem of hell–how could a loving God send people to hell. That really bugged me for a long time, but then I read C. S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce.” In it, Lewis postulates that God’s role is not so much sending people to hell as allowing people to walk away from him. Lewis even suggests that people can leave hell if they want to, but many choose instead to stay.
This idea of God allowing human beings to choose is central to the teachings of the Bible. The problem of hell is still with me, but I’ve discovered enough through reading the Bible and other folks much smarter than I am that it is not necessarily incompatible with a loving God. By the time I got to reading Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, I benefited from his critique on the Christian approach to the idea of hell, without accepting many of his conclusions.
I came across another thought in Dr. John Patrick’s keynote from last year’s Apologetics Canada Conference. The idea was this: It’s not too hard to accept that God is both pure Love and pure Justice. Just as it is inconceivable that a loving God allows people to be in hell, it is also just as inconceivable that a just God would allow people into heaven, but nobody argues about that. It is a puzzling paradox, but it makes some sense if God is both living AND just.
It is my experience that puzzling passages will be sorted out in time. I just need to do more reading and praying and and listening.
There are still passages that puzzle me, or that I just don’t like. But I am no longer tempted to reject the Bible because of them. As with past issues, I might be misinterpreting them. So, I will wait patiently for be blessing of future epiphanies.
The second reason why I don’t reject the Bible . . .
. . . just because I don’t like what’s in it.
If the Bible were truly the word of God, then I doubt it would say only things I agreed with. I doubt it would only say the things that citizens of 21st-century liberal democracies liked either.
If the Bible really were the word of a transcendent God, it is highly doubtful that it would present only those ideas that are palatable us, only here and only now.If the Bible really were the word of a transcendent God, it is highly doubtful that it would present only those ideas that are palatable us, only here and only now. Click To Tweet
That wouldn’t make any sense, especially since we keep changing our ideas about what is right and wrong every few centuries, or decades, or years. I haven’t been on this planet for very long, yet in my mere 50 years, I have seen a lot of change. What was fine 20 years ago is the worst thing imaginable today. If a perfectly offenseless Bible were written today, it would be deemed offensive in 30 years. It’s a wonder that a book thousands of years old isn’t a lot more offensive than it is.
One of the arguments in favour of the Bible actually being the word of a transcendent God is that there are parts I am very uncomfortable with.
I understand that a significant barrier to the acceptance of the Bible in (some) African cultures is that it demands we forgive each other. In North America, we have no problem forgiveness, but apparently, this is as hard for some cultures to accept as, say, sexual constraint is for North Americans.
I think the Bible is true, even though there are some parts that we have a lot of trouble with.
In some cases, we are troubled because we think it’s saying what it actually isn’t. In others, it’s actually putting its finger on an area where the Creator of the Cosmos is telling us we have strayed from the path of righteousness.
The trick is knowing which we are dealing with.Sometimes we think the Bible says what it isn't saying. Sometiems it's actually putting its finger on an area where the Creator of the Cosmos is telling us we have strayed from the path of righteousness. The trick is knowing which we are dealing with.Click To Tweet