Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Honesty Project - day 2

Ok, folks, here's my second attempt to join in with a great idea I found here

As a far-out on-the-UV-end liberal, I always preface a series of Bible studies with  a Caution rating: this should make you think, or even change your minds about what you believe. If it doesn't, we've done something wrong.
And the other is that we should take the Bible literally. No there isn't a "not" missing. Take it literally. I'm basically a storyteller, you see, and that's my honest about myself bit for today.

So where does this get us? Well, if it was the latest Ian Rankin novel we were talking about, we wouldn't want to say that no, it's not really about a detective working in Edinburgh. We'd say it's a novel, don't expect it to be true. Same with the ancient stories. That's what they are so don't expect them to be true. Too much of the "no it's not literal, it's theological or symbolic or allegorical or whatever," is little more than a way of preserving some sort of sense of "believing the Bible" when really we should have the courage to say it's not true, or it's wrong. Just because many stories aren't true, literally, it doesn't imply that they are pointless or without meaning. Lots of the stories from the ancient world are wonderful stuff and should be read and told and retold and enjoyed. 

By the way, Bunderlin isn't true either. Except the important bits, of course, and most of the others. But they didn't happen. Well they keep on happening, really.


Godless Girl said...

Daring and admirable method!

It sparks some questions:
How do you figure out the "true" bits from the untrue parts? Is this something that is determined on an individual basis? If one person claims one passage is true and applicable to today's life for you or me, but I disagree... how do you think God sees that?

How do you think sin works in this case when parts of the bible that describe what sin is may not be true? And how can a believer trust what they're reading as valuable, wise, and important information if the authors may be just plain wrong? Could they be wrong about the important theological points such as Jesus' divinity, having eternal life, what behavior is appropriate for a follower of God, and so forth?

Gotta love questions, right?

Thanks again for taking part!

Rob Crompton said...

Thanks for your comments. I'd want to deflect your questions and ask why you think they arise. Would the same questions arise if we were reading the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Greek myths or Grapes of Wrath?

So my recommendation for how to read the Bible: just asyou would read anything else - in your favourite chair, feet up, pot of tea or coffee. And the only question to ask is, what happens next?

And there is no Cosmic School Teacher looking on making notes about how many right beliefs you clock up. So if you can't get on with it, go and read a good novel.

So no, the Bible isn't normative for belief and ethics and it doesn't contain the how-to-get-to-heaven rules. It's a collection of very ancient stories. Some of them may contain valuable insights, and some might not. That's stories for you.