Extremes

Recently, I was listening to a podcast and heard someone say that there’s nothing in the Bible worth basing morals on. I was really disappointed to hear that, but it’s something I’ve run across before. I read a book a while back where the author criticized the Golden Rule by saying some people might not want to be treated they way you want to be treated. A more moral statement would be “don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.” But this is nitpicking. There is very little difference between the two statements.

There are plenty of problems in the Bible without us creating more. And when we do, I think it only hurts our position. It makes us look unreasonable and dishonest. In fact, there are some good moral teachings in the Bible. That doesn’t make it divine, but let’s at least give credit where it’s due.

Of course, there are Christians that whitewash the facts too. They can be presented with contradictory passages, failed prophecies, or illogical doctrines and still claim that those things don’t bother them. They’ll still claim the Bible is inerrant when they have no answers for the contradictions. That kind of attitude only hurts their cause as well. I have much more respect for the Christian who acknowledges the difficulties, or has adjusted some of his beliefs in response to them.

The end goal for all of us should be truth. Let’s be honest and brave enough to look at the evidence on every side of the issue and try to come to a more accurate and reasonable position. Making outrageous claims only clouds the issue and causes confusion. And when people do try to twist the facts, we should challenge them on it. Even if it never makes a difference to that person, you never know who might overhear a conversation or read an exchange on a blog or message board. It’s not always easy to put yourself out there that way, but I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do.

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4 thoughts on “Extremes”

  1. The question you are hitting at is consistency. [Most] Christians inconsistently apply their holy book’s morals because, well, most of the commandments in it are pretty heinous, particularly when it comes to how we should punish evildoers (seriously, death for wearing a cotton/poly blend?), and we point out the error with the expectation that people should be consistent in their beliefs (not “I believe in the Bible… except for those parts).

    We should strive to obtain the level of consistency in our beliefs that we demand others have in theirs, and that means that, why yes, there are some bits of the Bible that have worthy teachings in them–even if the vast majority of the book is either abhorrent, nonsensical, or contradictory.

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  2. When we go to these extremes with the scriptures, there are always problems. We have to be honest enough to take the bible as a whole unit, not a conglomeration of individual mandates. Taking it apart one verse at a time is like trying to eat the individual ingredients of a cake. One has to blend all of that stuff together before they’ll have anything worth eating.

    The thing that keeps me coming back to the Bible is its overriding mercy…and the fact that the cruelty of God’s justice, the inconsistency of the Bible’s weird statutes, and the ambiguity of its stunning language is given an even more striking beauty when looked at through the lens of God’s astonishing mercy. When we “Let Mercy Lead” as Rich Mullins’ song says, the Bible can, and does, bring us closer to the truth of God.

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  3. Obviously, I don’t believe any of it anymore, but I really appreciate your perspective on it. Thanks for the great comment!

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