Friday, September 25, 2009

Is the Bible Worth Studying?

A visitor reading my comment on a blog, replied back with a very derogatory remark about the fruitlessness of studying the Bible. I couldn't help myself and wrote a pretty long reply. I think it was rather inspired, so here it is:

I appreciate you putting this discussion in context. It did not occur to me, when I wrote my previous comment, that you would be of the opinion that the Bible has NEGATIVE (or detrimental) value. We tend to judge a group or an idea by observing the behavior of a small sampling of those who belong to it. I can develop a very negative view of gays, simply from their reaction to the passing of Prop. 8, in California. Likewise, I can use similar techniques to pass judgement on blacks, Muslims, truck drivers, etc….

I freely admit that there are very many obnoxious, rude, and overzealous people, who call themselves Christian, who very sorely misrepresent the teachings of the Bible, especially the New Testament. You said that Christianity today is nothing like the one that your grandparents professed. Could it be that the parents who you say drove your friend to suicide did not follow the Bible as well as your grandparents? Is a speed limit sign bad, if there are people who don’t obey it?

If I call myself a boxer and put on the whole gear (so that I also look like one), does that MAKE me a boxer? If you didn’t know anything at all about boxing, you might actually believe me to be one. But as soon as you see the REAL thing, especially one that proceeds to pummel me to the consistency of oatmeal, you would know who’s the real boxer and who’s the impostor. So you need a reference, by which to judge.

I came to a crossroads, when I was in college, and decided to go to the source for the answer: the Bible. I did not know whether there was ANY truth to be found in it, but realized that the only way was to read it for myself. I didn’t read ALL of it, at the time; not by a longshot. I started in the Book of John (4th book of the New Testament), but by the time I was half-way through, I was convinced and surrendered to Jesus. It hasn’t been all peaches and cream, but I do have that peace that you were talking about.

I don’t know the exact situation with your friend (and even you may not know all the reasons that drove him to take his own life), but I’ll tell you this: nagging and harrassment are the provinces of men, not Jesus. My dad is NOT a Christian, and yet he nags me about everything under the sun (including my beliefs). I know he didn’t get that from the Bible. The Bible actually teaches that if you see your brother sin, you are to approach him about it, in a humble way, up to three times. If after the third time, he does not want to change, drop it. Nowhere is it even implied that you are to harrass, nag, or hurt him. Dropping it doesn’t mean that you’re now OK with his problem, but the wisdom here is that you can only make things worse with your nagging.

We (especially as parents) tend to take it upon ourselves to “fix” the people around us. This is not restricted to Christians. EVERYBODY does this. And everybody has a belief system that they want to impose on others. You said that Christian groups want to influence public opinion and won’t let people enjoy their lives in peace. This is true of ALL activist groups (it’s in their definition). I invite you to name ONE activist group that does NOT try to impose its views on the population. Groups like the ACLU, ACORN, and GLADD want to change laws that restrict my freedom, while promoting views that I strongly disagree with. We’re in the middle of a war of worldviews.

I should add here that there is a fairly large subset of Christians who believe that we should totally stay out of politics and public policy.

Your assertion that every human life is sacred is so very true and can lead us down all sorts of fascinating paths, but that’s beside the point.

I was trying to answer the fundamental question: Is there intrinsic value in the Bible? If we can say that there is even ONE work of fiction that is worth studying (and there are plenty that are analyzed to death in literature classes), then the world’s all-time number one bestseller should be counted, EVEN AS A PURE WORK OF FICTION. But archaeology has independently validated many of the historical and cultural references found in the Bible, so I conclude that those aspects also add to its value and merit.

As a source of moral guidance, its value rests on a slippery slope, unless we accept that its author is our creator: God. As a spiritual guide, it falls flat on its face, without God’s authority behind it.
So I conclude that while the Bible HAS value that make it worthy of in-depth study and analysis, its value in the context talked about here (spiritual and moral) is entire reliant on one assertion, which I would phrase as follows: The Bible is an accurate representation of God’s will for us. You can debunk this assertion in two major ways: (1) prove there is no God, or (2) prove that God’s will for us is significantly different from what the Bible portrays.

It's often hard to talk to unbelievers who are so against Christianity. This particular person was very angry at his friend's parents, who professed to be Christians, and whom he claimed drove his gay friend to suicide. He never responded, but I hope the Lord opens his heart.


Gigi said...

What a beautifully constructed comment! Whether he relies or not, you've given him some powerful things to think about. The door to a dark closet needs to open only a tiny crack to let the light in...

Tamela's Place said...

I will have to agree Greg that your response was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit.. You spoke truth in love and wisdom. Way to go! You glorified God!

I hope this person did indeed read your reponse :)


Lori Stanley Roeleveld said...

Nice work, Greg.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Gigi took the words out of my mouth. Your response to this person was gracious and very well-put; a great Christian testimony!


Greg said...

Thank you all, for your kind comments. We all know Who gets all the credit and all the glory. :)

Wifey said...

You already know I think most of what you write is wonderful!! :-)

thekingpin68 said...

We need to do our part in reaching out to others in Christ.

Biblical study is a crucial aspect of doing this effectively.