a way of looking at the Bible

A week ago Sunday, 8 September, was Pentecost 16, Proper 18 and the gospel reading was Luke 14:25-33, which includes some harsh language:

Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

BibleFr. Phil had an interesting take on this. He reminded us that the gospels were written in a time of tumult, when the followers of Jesus were being thrown out of the synagogues. The readers of the gospel of Luke and the other gospels were under a lot of stress and no doubt confused. He suggested:

So how are you and I going to read these hard words attributed to Jesus?  We can read them as intended for one specific circumstance in history; some things do not bear to be repeated.  Some words never need to be applicable again.  All of the Bible does not have to have future application; many of the words can simply remain the historical record of a single event in the history of a particular group of people.

That can relieve a lot of stress for us today, ya know?

3 Comments on “a way of looking at the Bible”

  1. So, how do you know which parts are the ones that are not meant for today but applied only at one time in history and which are applicable today?

    If the infallable god did not want you to read and know the words, why are they in there? Which words are you not supposed to take literally? How can you know? That jesus guy wasn’t too keen on making sure it was easy to figure out… why is that?

    • myatheistlife: The Bible is a compilation of books written by humans about their quest for God. It is not Divine revelation, and it is full of contradictions. The best we can do is use it as a guidebook for our own individual journeys, without assuming that any given passage offers any kind of absolute truth.

      • That is a true statement which can be said of every philosophy. It has no more value in it than the works of Hume or Kant or Neitszche, probably less since it does indeed pretend to be the inerrant word of the supposed creator of existence. It is not untrue to say that perhaps the most useful truth to be found in its pages is that there is no god? Absolute truth, as you mention, is not written down… it is not to be found in any book or religion… except by pure accident. No passage of a religious text can be trusted to be truth unless and until we adjudge it to be so on our own knowledge… knowledge gained from outside that book. This kind of make the entire exercise of a book of wisdom a fools errand.

        Certainly, seeking wisdom is not a fools errand. Trusting a single book to provide it is. If you must choose a single book, perhaps it is a better choice to get a physics 101 book, or perhaps a complete back catalog of Popular Science?

        As for the inspiration for the book, it seems more like a catalog of interactions with their god and how others should interact with that god rather than the story of a quest for a god. They seemed pretty certain they had found that god. Actually they continuously claim to have found a god and kindly added what kind of hell I am doomed to experience if I don’t believe as they do.

        You might want to take a more critical look at the book. I think the best we can do is move it over to the fiction section of the library and keep it there. Its role in world violence as a guidebook has been devastatingly harmful to humanity. We’re much better off with it firmly stuck in the fiction section.


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