What is the Bible, to Christians?
In general, it’s their religion’s “holy book”, though some sects, and believers, give more importance to it than others.
To some (so-called “liberal Christians”), the Bible is mostly a collection of parables and stories, to teach something about God, faith, and so on, and not to be taken literally (in other words, a lot of Christians don’t actually believe in the story of Adam and Eve, for instance). Also, many believe the New Testament (more focused on salvation, faith, and the afterlife) “supersedes” the Old (which is more historical, deals mostly with Israel, doesn’t really mention the afterlife that much, if at all, and shows God to be everything but “a god of Love”).
Then you have many degrees of “taking the Bible seriously”, up to the ones (I’ll call them “fundamentalists”) who believe the Bible is the actual, literal word of God. (even if it was, originally, they’re still quite naive to believe that it hasn’t ever been altered by interested human hands… but that’s another story) These are the ones who can find passages in the Bible (and they’re not that hard to find) to justify the killing of homosexuals, abortion clinic bombings, sexism, distrust of “secular” education, and so on – after all, it’s written in the Bible! (though I’m sure it didn’t exactly specify using “bombs”…)
Luckily, most Christians fall into the first group, not the second (though, again, there are degrees, it’s not a binary thing).
Now, as an atheist, I’m certainly not advocating fundamentalism; if anything, I believe that the “liberal” Christians are much more rational, and certainly a lot healthier, than the fundies. But what do they do – indeed, what do they have to do – to be that way?
They pick and choose from the Bible. They ignore a lot of it.
They pick the few parts that teach forgiveness, love, justice, care for others, and that show God to be “a loving God”, like a heavenly father. And they base all their belief on those.
And they ignore the rest. Which makes up most of the Bible. They ignore most of the supposed “divinely inspired, word of God”.
They ignore the many parts that call for fanaticism, rigidness, killing of unbelievers, punishments that affect not only the supposed sinner, but his family, including several generations of descendants. They skip the parts that say than people should be put to death for homosexuality, or for disobeying their parents, or for doing this, or that – even for gathering wood on the Sabbath. They move over the parts that don’t make any sense (4 links). They believe in an all-powerful God, so they ignore passages like this.
So, basically, the only way to be a non-fanatic Christian is to ignore, say, 90% of the Bible.
While I applaud such people for rejecting the obviously “bad” parts of their “holy” book, I have to say that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense… that is, if you pick and choose from the Bible, following only the parts you like (about, say, 10%), then aren’t you, in a way, creating your own religion? Aren’t you saying that 90% of the Bible is worthless for you, yet the remaining 10% is worth following, believing in, basing your faith on? Aren’t you, in effect, saying that 90% of the supposed “word of God” is… crap?
Or, putting this in another way: if you already have a system of beliefs, a sense of right and wrong, and you reject everything from the Bible that feels “wrong” to you, and accept only what feels “right”… then what do you need the Bible for? You already had a system of beliefs! If you know that killing innocents is wrong, do you really need the Bible to tell you killing innocents is wrong – while having to skip all the parts where it says God commanded the Israelites to put several entire peoples to the sword, including women and children?
No related posts.