As an adult embracing Christian-oriented religion, I think it’s important to reconcile my feelings towards the Bible. I’m sure the more devout readers will see this as sacrilegious: lets not forget that whole “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1), okay? Just read and listen, we both might learn something.
Oversimplifying, the Bible is a collection of stories written by and about people and events. Some folks claim it is the word of God. Others say it was inspired by God. What we should be able to agree on, though, is the oversimplification I just described. But, how trustworthy is the Bible? Let me clarify: how historically accurate is it? God didn’t proofread and correct it. We know that throughout history, there have been reformations of the Bible with Popes acting as editors. How do we know if the stories contained in the Bible aren’t fiction? Archaeology might prove the existance of people, places and things–but how much can forensics tell us about what happened before we found their remains?
My shelf contains a large library of DVDs, mostly fiction–straight out of Hollywood. There are some documentaries and other presumed non-fiction, but even those tell a story from a particular point of view. I would be ashamed of some future archaeologist finding my collection, some 2,000 years later, mislead into thinking that the movies contained on my DVDs accurately tell the story of life in the year 2006, with super-human tales of mystery and heroism, of scandalous treachery, of zany love stories and war. Sure, it might be reflective of the popular culture of the times, but it sure isn’t historically accurate. After all, they’re just stories, most of them fictional, meant to sedate and entertain the masses. But, 2,000 years ago, before the age of movies on DVDs, televisions and even electricity, even before mass-produced books, we had handwriting and oral storytelling.
Don’t get me wrong: the Bible is an awesome story. A super-being giving orders from a pyrotechnical bush, stories of slavery and freedom, of love and life lost, of a man who heals the ill and walks on water, of angry mobs killing the hero, of supernatural phenomena like life-after-death … this is the kind of stuff that blockbusters are made of! But, I can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s more entertainment than historical fact. It contains a lot of wisdom and we should certainly listen for it and learn it and live it, but to take it literally and as accurate just seems foolhardy to me.
Am I totally wrong, here? What am I missing? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.