When the Bible Offends

The Bible is a powerful and interesting book.  It is not just a book about a religion.  It is revelation.  Human beings wrote down every bit of it, but there are strong reasons to believe that God motivated and perhaps even dictated their words.   The Jewish people, over the course of centuries, came to acknowledge that God had inspired the books of the Old Testament.  Usually this was “after-the-fact”.  The books were recognized as inspired as a matter of hindsight.

The New Testament was established by a church council–The Council of Nicea in 325AD.  The various books of the New Testament had recognition as the inspired Word of God prior to that, but Nicea acknowledged which were from God and which were pseudepigrapha (fake writings), which is the opposite of plagiarism.

What really is the test of whether a writing is inspired is how God continues to use it.  Hebrews 4:12 says that God’s Word is “living and active”, which essentially means that the Holy Spirit continues to use these words to communicate to us today.  Using the Bible isn’t just a matter of reading what the author said, it is also having the author moving your heart and mind and applying it to you.  For that reason, simply giving a Bible and letting the Bible do the work can be a way to give Christ.

But there are parts of the Bible that can offend people.  There are things they don’t want to hear, mysteries that none of us fully understand, and even some exceptions given to Old Testament people that not only offend modern sensibilities but seem to contradict other parts of the Bible.  These things can become a formidable barrier to faith for some people.

I will treat each of these at length in future entries.  Here are some examples: some stories seem very mythical (Creation, Babel, Jonah in particular), the Old Testament seems to allow slavery, some people are allowed to be polygamists, the Jewish people are told to commit genocide, the Trinity is illogical, the selection of Israel or even “the Elect” seems to contradict God’s love.  If you have others that you would like to see treated send me a message.

For now I would offer these general statements.  God’s ways are not our ways.  We often judge the actions and truths of God through a human lens.  You can’t do that.  Secondly, God is not a person living within the bounds of physics.  It is logical that God would be illogical at points, because logic is based on how creation works and God is outside of the created order.  Therefore, don’t expect to understand it all.  We are small people with limited understanding.  How then can we evaluate whether the Bible is truth?  Belief will depend on God reaching you.  I believe, but I don’t believe because I understand everything.  God has taught me many things over the years, but there are gaps and I expect there will be gaps until the end of life if not beyond.

If any of the issues above are an problem for you or somebody you know, I hope you will look for my future entries on these topics.  I am also game for other topics, so let me know what bothers you.

2 Comments

  1. I’m having lunch with our son on Friday who hasn’t attended church in 10 years. Do you have any advice on how to approach the subject? He has never really told us why he quit going but I think it’s because he is an introvert and doesn’t like being approached by people about his faith. My husband is the same way.

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    1. When that amount of time has elapsed, I think you need to find out where he is at with respect to faith. Perhaps you can ask him in writing. Something like, “You know how important my faith in Jesus is to me. I know you haven’t been to church in a long time. What do you believe about Jesus?”

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