October 16, 2005

The Bible is Not a Play By Play Report

If you gather a group of people together to watch a football game or a movie and ask them to write a summary, it is very unlikely that you will see two write-ups that are the same. Even though there is only one set of facts, it is human nature to filter events through our own set of values and perspective.

In summarizing the game, some would talk about the defense, others would focus on the offense. While reviewing the movie, there are those who would write about the cinematography and others that would give their views on the story line.

It is important to remember that, although the words in the Bible were inspired by God, they were written by human beings. Recently, the Catholic Church published a teaching document including instructions that some parts of the Bible are not literally true.

A key quote from the document, as reported by the London Times, states "We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision."

To put this in some perspective, admittedly mine, there are some fundamentalits that will practically fight to the death to defend the idea that Creation actually occurred in six calendar days, ignoring the wealth of scientific evidence to the contrary. Are details like that really important? Not if you're reading the Bible to seek God's will for your life instead of using it like a textbook.

God's word will not lead you to him like a set of directions to put together a bookcase. You know, insert screw A into slot B. It doesn't work like that. There are fundamentalists who swear by their literal interpretation, in my opinion, because it's easy and they don't have to open their hearts and minds.

There are people with whom I have interacted regarding the editorial content of this site who quote scriptures to point out how I am misguided and how homosexuals are sinners. When I come back with the fact that I have seen gay men and lesbian women who have been blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, they have no answer for that. It gets them out of their comfort zone where they answer everything by quoting scripture.

Don't get me wrong, the Bible is of course the most important book ever written. It contains wisdom well beyond what we as mere humans can understand and the writers could communicate in its full meaning. The Bible as I have come to understand it is a tool that teaches us important concepts about how to live our lives and be more like Jesus. It also teaches us how to grow closer to Him. When we do that, he fills us with the Holy Spirit and it is that Spirit which guides us through our lives.

The rest is just details which, if we are not careful, can take us AWAY from the Lord, particularly if people professing to be christians fight over them.


  1. I wonder if they take it literally and "to god a day is as a thousand and a thousand as a day"

    Wouldn't that give the possibity that the 6 day creation might be a 6,0000 day creation ~17 years

    Just a thought- and good points yourself.

  2. The Bible itself provides different perspectives by giving four distinct versions of the good news of the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus. (Actually, given three different endings for Mark found in almost all Bibles, more than four versions of the Resurrection.) They cannot be totally reconciled except by assuming that the same event happened over and over in totally different ways -- sometimes as event, sometimes as parable. Even the timeline of the Passion doesn't quite work. Still we believe the testimonies, all of them, to be reliable for what we need to know for our salvation. [For another example, try to reconcile the different descriptions of Saul's Damascus road experience.]

    I was raised fundamentalist and appreciate the strange security of a black-and-white interpretation of things that are actually highly ambiguous. Yet it is like asking someone to show us the moon and then focusing on the tip of the finger with which they are pointing instead of looking in the direction indicated. Thus we mistake the finger for the moon, as sometimes we mistake the words for the Word.