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Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality
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Bibleianity - Vastly Different Than Christianity
To Biblical Literalists
The Sermon on the Mount
Jesus Interprets The Law and The Prophets Differently Than the Jews
Sample Of Past False Christian Teachings
Should We Bring Back Traditional Biblical Family Values?
The Historic Reasons For The Crutch of Bibleianity
Problems With Using The Bible To Teach Doctrine
The Modern Translations Reflect Traditional Views, Not Biblical Honesty
The Uselessness Of Concordance's Like Strong's
Researching Biblical Koine Greek & Bibliography of Researchers
Biblical Text Imperfections
Religious Addiction and The Cult of Fundamentalism
Summary & Conclusion
To Biblical Literalists:
Using scriptures to push sexual repression, many theologians say, not only ignores the koine Greek and the culture to whom it was addressed but is CONTRARY TO THE EXPLICIT TEACHING OF CHRIST. It seems that if Jesus presented his views of scriptural exegesis, many Christians would reject him over bible legalism. In other studies I show how the original Greek and Hebrew words have been twisted to totally misunderstand specific sexual issues. This study shows that biblical legalism, even if it was there, which it is not, is the opposite of Christ's teachings regarding true Christianity. First, we will take a brief look at the issue, than show the results of Bibleanity in the past which we now realize was totally wrong, look, the historic reasons for false teachings, and finally return to a look at the Bible in more detail.
The Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:1--7:29
In Matthew, Jesus emphasizes the importance of not just the law, but doing loving deeds. The structure of the gospel itself reflects the theme of the relationship between the Word and deed: it has five major discourses followed by narratives about Jesus and disciples actions. Matthew regarded the Sermon on the Mount as an eptimome of Jesus' Teaching, of which His whole ministry was an illustration. It is often quoted by biblical literalists to justify their supposed adherence to the OT laws and falsely claim for example that the Bible condemns homosexuality rather than the terrible acts of pederasty which is all the Bible discuses. Important to their argument is Matthew 5:17-20, where Jesus says he comes not to abolish but to fulfill "the law and the prophets", the OT law and that no one should break the least of the commandments. The literalists claim this means Christians should even adhere to the Leviticus laws.
There may be a loving reason, Jesus seemed to respectfully support the OT scripture but then clarified what he really meant by "the Law and the prophets". Jesus was speaking probably to a mixed audience of both Jews and Gentiles. He tried to walk a fine line, to respect the Jewish beliefs in the Torah, but teach that He (Jesus) came and superseded Jewish scriptures in some respects. In a similar example, Jesus confronted the Jewish leaders and curses them for having neglected the more important aspects of the Law, such as justice, mercy and faith (22:23). He goes on to say "It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others."
Jesus Interprets The Law and The Prophets Differently Than the Jews
Jesus reinterpreted the law without changing it or making it obsolete as he ushers in the age of Christ as the fulfiller of the law, where all can go to heaven, not just the Jews. Jesus, in his teachings and actions, is like the faithful scribe in Matthew 13:51 who "brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus vividly illustrates his approach in the section often called "the six antitheses" (5:21-48). These are the "you have heard it said..but I say unto you..." In six cases of important issues of Mosaic Law, Jesus dares to contrast his word with God's words. Even more startling, in three cases, on divorce, oaths and vows, and retaliation, Jesus revokes the letter of the Law and replaces it with his own diametrically opposed commands. Immediately after having said he has come to fulfill the scriptures, Jesus sets aside some of them! Apparently the process of "fulfillment of scriptures" includes alteration and deletion of scriptures. In all six antithesis, Jesus applies the Golden Rule to make his alterations and deletions of scripture. In the last one, Jesus turns the laws of retaliation upside down and stresses loving even your enemy and doing good.
Jesus's ACTIONS Also violate the "laws and the prophets"
Jesus violates the purity laws, and gives "unclean" people direct excess to God. But in his attempt to not upset the Jews he tells the healed man to tell no one, but that he keep another part of Jewish scriptures by going to the priest, who will now declare him clean.
The first 3 stories in Math 8 Jesus sets aside all scriptures which have limited direct access to God. Jesus sits with sinners for dinner, saying they are righteous, for they grasp the meaning of loving God, neighbor and self. He says to Pharisees at the table "learn what this means, I desire mercy (or love), not sacrifice (or righteousness)." The religious leaders are sinners for practicing the law of scriptures instead of love. He again breaks the law by not condemning the "unclean" women for touching him. He brings back to life an "unclean" dead once again violating the law and the prophets! Later he feeds people and heals on the Sabbath. As the religious leaders are plotting his death, Jesus pronounces woes on those who strain at gnats (scriptural legalisms) while swallowing camels (failure to love).
The Pharisees Reject Jesus' Ignoring Scripture
The Pharisees continue to reject Jesus' assertion that mercy is to be a guiding principal. When Jesus casts out a demon from a man, the religious leaders accuse Jesus of being evil. Jesus continues to teach love by healing many diseased people. He is showing love is not exclusive as the religious hierarchy tries to claim (9:35-38). Everyone is invited to God's table. As "living scripture", Matthew's relates Jesus' teaching about and his demonstration of love. In word and deed, Jesus sets aside scriptures it they put too heavy a burden on people. Jesus sets free groups of people defined by oppressive scriptural laws that give some groups more status than others. The last verse of Matthew is the key. Mt 28:20 is clear "Go forth....and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you." Note that is not legalism but only the law of love he just taught.
Jesus upsets literalists who seek to exclude others from God's love by labeling them sinners. He shows the only requirements of scripture are love of God, neighbor, and self, which is revealed in loving actions.
I suggest some Christians are teaching Bibleianity like the Pharisees, not the teachings of Jesus.
Sample Of Past False Christian Teachings
Epileptic Demon Possessed
It was believed in Jesus's time that those afflicted with many ills were demon possessed. In one case they made a man crazy, another dumb; another blind and dumb; and in Mt 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29 and Lk 9: 37-43 an epileptic child. We now are starting to find for example, homosexuality is no more a sin than epileptics demon possession!
Galileo Moving And Round Earth Heresy
In 1610 Galileo using his new 20-power telescope he observed the phases of Venus and had become a firm believer in the Copernican Heliocentric World system. We was vigorously opposed in this belief, because the Bible was seen as supporting the opposite view of a stationary earth. Galileo argued his observations and mathematical proofs should not be subjected to doubtful scriptural interpretations.
But in 1616, the Holy Office at Rome issued an edict against his moving earth view. In 1632 he wrote his famous Dialogue, today recognized as having formed the basics of astronomy as a science. But the good Christians would have none of this and was tried by the Inquisition on grounds he was ordered never to teach his views. In June 1633, Galileo was condemned to life imprisonment for "vehement suspicion of heresy." His Dialogue was banded, and printers were forbidden to publish anything further by him or even to reprint his previous works. Outside Italy, however, his Dialogue was translated to Latin and read by scholars who later confirmed most of his findings.
What do you think Galileo thought about God making his word so clear, that he was sentenced to life imprisonment for his showing the earth moved and was not fixed in the heavens. Good Christians of the time claimed God clearly showed the earth was in a fixed position and to deny the clear word of God deserved a life sentence! So much for how clear God made his word and preserved it for all to know! It's not the scriptures that are the problem but man's interpretation and having to realize it was written from the historical perspective of the time.
Slavery Supported As Biblical
Slavery was a bitter fight within the Church as the Bible clearly supported slavery which resulted in forming the Southern Baptists. Some claim blacks are of Satan since they are descendants of the lost tribe that scripture condemn.
Catholic Fairy Tales
Few scholars take seriously the original Vulgate Catholic scriptures. Catholics teach many fairy tales as truth such as the immaculate assumption of Mary, the Pope decided in the 16th century would be a good idea to declare to unite the people.
It was allowable for Catholic priests to have multiple wives and mistresses. But with concerns for protecting Church property from inheritance Pope Pelagius I made new priests agree offspring could not inherit Church property. Pope Gregory then declared all sons of priests illegitimate (only sons since lowly daughters couldn't inherit anyway). In 1022 Pope Benedict VIII banned marriages and mistresses for priests and in 1139 Pope Innocent II voided all marriages of priests and all new priests had to divorce their wives and be celibate. Celibacy had nothing to do with morality, multiple women for males had long been the norm since before biblical times, but it was about MONEY!
Should We Bring Back Traditional Biblical Family Values?
Concubinage (women as breeders), polygyny,(men multiple wives) capturing women in battle and forcing them to be wives, levirate marriages, fathers forcing their daughters to marry a man that pays the father the marriage price, regardless of girls wishes, and women as property of husbands, may not be a good thing, but they sure are Biblical!
Ex 22:16 says "When a man seduces a virgin who is not yet betrothed, he shall pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. If her father refuses to give her to him, the seducer shall pay in silver a sum equal to the bride-price for virgins." Deut 22 tells about a husband's property rights in his wife. If a bride was not a virgin at marriage, she was regarded as "damaged merchandise." While a girl should be a virgin, nothing in scripture suggests a man has to be a virgin. But the girl was worth less to her father. Today women are empowered to enjoy sexuality for themselves, not as property and with birth control children don't have to result.
The Hawaiians engaged in indiscriminate sex for decades. Everyone loved and accepted everyone else. There was no disease or dissension of jealousy. It was only after Capt. Cook brought the European CHRISTIAN influence into their society, forcing women to cover their breasts and allowing their good "Christian" men to rape and abuse the natives that their society began to experience jealousy and hatred.
Moses in regards to the acts of Peor, against the Lord, directed "Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every women that laid with men...but all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for YOURSELVES". In other words - keep all the virgins for yourself.
When Lot offered his two virgin daughters to the men of Sodom, this was proper in accordance with the rules of sexual hospitality. A father could use his daughters sexuality as he choose. God seemed to bless Lot for offering his daughters to be gang- raped since the angels rescued them before the city was destroyed. Sodom had absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality but the pederastric practice of heterosexuals to drive away strangers by sexually assaulting them
Other Past "Christian" Views.
The following is typical of fundamental literalists views of scriptures in 1925 by the school board of Lancaster, Ohio published in Tulare Daily Register: "You are welcome to use this school house to debate all proper questions in. But such things as railroads and telegraphs are rank infidelity. There is nothing in the Word of God about them. If God designed that His intelligent creatures should travel at the frightful speed of 15 miles an hour by steam, He would have foretold it by the mouth of His holy prophets. It is a device of Satan to carry the souls of the faithful down to hell."
The KJV Bible clearly shows 68 times that the sun moves around the earth and people were killed who believed otherwise. Either the Bible is wrong and God made a little mistake, or we misunderstand what is intended by the texts, or maybe the writers wrote with their earthly understandings based on the culture in which they lived.
A Christian General Conference of Adventists, declared in 1866 that only full beards were permitted "as nature designed it" according to scripture.
The Historic Reasons For The Crutch of Bibleianity
The Bible was, in effect, a closed book to all but the literate, who were few in number. Even when literacy became more widespread, there was a constructed effort on the part of the church to keep the Bible's words out of the reach or understanding of the common man.
Many were executed for translating the Bible into the language the people actually spoke. I suspect that the reason was twofold: First, the church was as much a political as well as a spiritual power, and the commandments of the Bible were best left to the dissemination of those in power. Second, a universal awareness of what the Bible actually said would have led to earlier discussions and arguments about the very things disputed among current Christians, undermining the authority of the Church.
The reason for the crutch of Bibleianity used to falsely judge others is based on Christian history. People have always wanted a rule book to follow to make things easy. The Catholic Church created its own idols and false teaching for the purpose of control and to achieve great riches. Many feel Catholicism is more idol worship than Christianity. Some think that saying so many hail marry's and praying to rosaries is the simple answer to be Godly. Its easy, doesn't require much thought, just obedience to a doctrine of control, where common people were not capable of knowing the truth, since only the Church had "proper" answers. Only in modern times has the Catholic Church even allowed Catholics to read a anything other than the Catholic Bible since they would be incapable of understanding it without the Catholic Church's guidance.
Then Luther taught more correctly Christ's teaching that we could have a personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit without any Pope and we could read and study scripture for ourselves. However, many still want easy rules to follow. But many Protestants have replaced the Pope with the Bible, instead of a personal relationship with God via the Holy Spirit. Many claim the Bible is the Law even thought Christ declared this false.
The Bible IS important as a historical account of the early Church and the greater message of Gods love of Him sending Christ to replace the law of scriptures with His law of love to the new age of Christ. The Bible teaches important principals, but what seem to be rules were for the culture of the time, especially in regard to Paul's writings to the early Church. But it is not Christ's teaching to keep saying "the Bible says" on issues of personal morality. Much of Christian tradition has nothing to do with the original Greek, or today's culture, but its too difficult to be creative in applying the two laws that Christ taught. Following a law book excuses you from personal responsibility to evaluating a particular situation and applying Christ's laws of love, as he clearly demonstrated.
Problems With Using The Bible To Teach Doctrine
Some Christians, believe in the literal truth of the Bible. But as one scholar said, "I take the Bible too seriously to take it literally" Other Christians believe while the Bible is not without error, the process throughout history to select the books of the Bible etc., was the result of God's inspiration and intent. One of the most important teachings of the Bible is that it can be illuminated by the Holy Spirit to help make unclear scripture clear for how it should guide each of us in our personal lives, and in our walk with Christ. The New Testament makes it clear that Christians are only accountable to the spirit of Christ living within (the Holy Spirit).
The Translation Problems
Our English Bibles are a composite of various Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts, some of which are fragmentary; others which contain complete books. Particularly in the case of the NT, there are many variants in the original Greek manuscripts. This is because the people who copied the Greek manuscripts were not always the trained scribes like those who copied the Jewish scriptures. The Bible itself may not contain error, but the English translation may as well as reflect some of the biases of the translators. Even most conservative scholars acknowledge this and when they say only the original (proto-manuscripts) were inerrant. We have no original manuscripts. A further complications was that Jesus spoke in Aramaic, an ancient language now extinct. So his Aramaic had to be translated into Hebrew and Greek, and then into English. The NT relies on oral passing of information from person to person or from an itinerant preacher to various congregations.
Martin Luther Teachings
The basic principal of the Protestant view has its base in Martin Luther's teaching that each person has the right and the ability to seek God's personal guidance in their lives in the understanding of scripture. This was very different from Catholic teaching that the laity was incapable of understanding spiritual matters and should only look to the Catholic Church for proper teaching.
Inspired or Useful For Education?
2 Timothy 3:16-17 of course speaks only about the OT and perhaps the Psalms since their was no NT scriptures as we know them today. The book of Timothy is referring to "from childhood you have known the sacred writings" (3:15). That's the Jewish scriptures (the Torah) and the Prophets. These were accepted as "canon" of the time along with some of what are known as the "writings" such as the Psalms. The NRSV and other translations say "All scripture inspired by God is useful for teaching...." This is a very different statement than "All scripture is inspired by God." If we go with the most common translation, what we have is the author's belief all scripture is inspired. This is the only place in the Bible making that claim since all other references to inspiration have to do with people being inspired and we don't know exactly what is meant by "inspired". Neither Paul who wrote Timothy, or any other writer equates "inspired" with "inerrant." The scripture Timothy's audience has known since childhood (v.14) is useful for "teaching...training in righteousness (another word for justice or right relationships)". This would mean even the awful abusive teachings in parts of Lev. and Deut. are useful in teaching for righteousness - in terms of they were good for their time up to a point and at looking where they failed (and were corrected by Jesus).
I believe some Christians have given more weight and meaning to this verse than what was originally intended. The letter of Timothy was written in a time of church persecution. People were falling away from the Church. Timothy was pointing to the scriptures these Jewish Christians had known since childhood as a source of strength. The purpose to hold to these scriptures was to be empowered to do "every good work." This is the bottom line of the statement. It is not unlike Jesus' statement of the Golden Rule being what was meant by the law and the prophets.
Biblical Teachings Reflected The Culture
Especially as related to God's idea of family and marriage, you have to realize the culture in which the Christ and the writers of scripture lived was very different than today. Singles sex and monogamy simply wasn't addressed since it was not part of the cultural concerns. Adultery was a violation of a mans property rights over his women and concubines (breeders). A man could never commit adultery as long as the women was not the property of another.
Christ's teachings are dynamic as it relates to the culture. His principals of love are universal, but how the principals are applied may be very different than in Hebrew culture of 2000 years ago. Traditional church teaching has taken specific rules, ignored the culture in which they applied and tried to make them universal truths.
The Modern Translations Reflect Traditional Views, Not Biblical Honesty
The problem is not God or the original scriptures but the perverted false translations of the texts into English based on an agenda, not the original scripture texts or what is assumed to be "Gods word".
The NIV is one example of this perversion of "Gods word". My cofounder of Liberated Christians when in seminary had two professors who were on the NIV committee. As with other translations, how to translate the texts into English was in very hot debate regarding some controversial issues. The debate within the NIV committee was between translating based on traditional teachings vs a more literal (dynamic equivalency) translation limited to what was actually said as understood by the exact words in the culture it was written.
Since most of the NIV translators came from a traditional conservative background, the majority view resulted in a traditional vs more historically accurate English translation. To varying degrees this is also true of other English translations which reflect more a conservative agenda than a search for God's truth.
The original text should not be tampered with. That is why a serious student looks only to the original Hebrew/Greek texts seeking to understand what they meant to the culture in which they were written. You also have to realize the translation problems going from the words Jesus spoke in Aramaic (a very vague language) to the written Greek.
Many serious biblical scholars are revealing false traditional biblical teachings, especially regarding sexual issues which are based on Church dogma, not original scriptural texts.
One clear example of this is the NIV's false translation of Ex 21:22 where it tries to make a dead fetus a live birth to promote its anti-choice agenda by changing what scripture really said. The NIV authors were caught in their deception and in most texts there is a footnote correcting the life birth mistake . Some think it was an oversight, others think it was to promote the anti-choice agenda. Ex 21:22 clearly shows the non soul status of a fetus in the original texts and supported by Jewish tradition, Hebrew scholars and more honest translators.
The deception of the English translations, in some areas, is far more of an abomination and sin, for example in the area of homosexuality, than gays living their lives in love as God created them. Scripture never says a word about homosexuality the natural sexual orientation, only about the terrible unnatural acts of pederasty. The false teachings of heterosexual sexual repression such as regarding polyamory and singles sexuality is another area having nothing to do with understanding the original texts, but based on a conservative Christian agenda...not the Bible's original text.
The Uselessness Of Concordance's Like Strong's
Serious biblical study consists much more of trying to look up words in a concordance such as Strong's that lists all possible greek meanings. It would be nice if it were so simple.
For example, what is the literal meaning of "Trunk"? A concordance would list such things as the front end of an elephant, the back end of a car, the bottom of a tree, the middle of a person, or all of a large suitcase! Strong's concordance is just as meaningless in trying to understand Greek. In fact Greek may be much more difficult to transliterate than English. For serious biblical study you not only need to understand the Greek word, you have to evaluate the context and evaluate other uses of the word.
True Biblical theology begins not with Church tradition and dogma but with the biblical texts themselves. Biblical theology seeks to understand how the biblical authors expressed themselves in terms of their culture. Only with this understanding is it legitimate to define biblical sexual ethics of the NT and find implications for today.
Many serious Christians writers without any personal bias come up with very different biblical truth than Church tradition regarding sexuality. There are some Christian's whose maturity enables them to study other viewpoints without becoming emotionally agitated. Others do not have the maturity and revealing other scriptural interpretations, rather than being a blessing, ends up being a curse on them, resulting in agitated emotions and a need to prove their point over any logical presentation of possible alternative views.
No Christian should judge others just because they take the scriptures more seriously than looking up words in a concordance. If you are happier in your beliefs that sex is wrong outside of marriage that may be what is best for you. But it is not the only legitimate interpretation of scripture. If you understand Church history and its biased translations through history you soon realize the lies and deceptions the Church is teaching regarding many sexual issues and especially homosexuality.
The one clear teaching is Christ's love and that all the rules we seek are but gnats and we should exhibit more love (I don't mean sexual), and non-judgmental acceptance of legitimate different scripture views. I encourage us to look at scripture more in light of Christ's love and not as a rule book. I assure you the more liberal position is very legitimate for some, but it may not be legitimate for God's will in your life - but remember the prostitute gets to heaven before the literalist which was what the pharisee's were !
Researching Biblical Koine Greek
The problem with much traditional views of biblical texts is it totally disregards both the historical society context as well as what did the Greek word mean to the readers of the day. A concordance like Strong's etc. is virtually worthless since it includes all possible meanings without any attempt to seriously look at what it actually meant to the Hebrew Christians 2000 years ago.
One of the most respected theological sources to attempt to find what the true understanding of the NT Greek is what is often referred to as the "Kittel". It's name is derived from its writer, a German named Kittel. Its real name is "The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament" This extensive resource (about 15 volumes) is considered one of the best attempts to look at both NT and other Greek literature written in biblical times to try and understand the Greek meanings. There is also a "Little Kittel" which just deals with NT Greek. It is much like a dictionary but you have to know Greek since while the narrative has been translated from German to English the word listings are in Greek. There also is another version that transliterates the Greek into English that most seminary libraries probably have.
For those not knowing Greek we suggest reading series writings of other sincere Christians who have seriously studied the biblical sexual issues. We especially recommend:
"Dirt, Greed, And Sex," Professor of NT, Church Divinity School, Rev.
Countryman points out "nowhere does the Bible make monogamy a clear and explicit standard" The Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles suggests the book be required reading for those who think they know what the Bible says about sexual ethics. Christians have allowed the fundamentalists to hijack the issue of sexual morality, both heterosexual and homosexual.
"God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality" Phyllis Trible discusses the legitimacy of polygamy in biblical times and women today want the same sexual freedom men have always had.
"Lust The Other Side Of Love" by M White, former Prof of Communications, Fuller Theological Seminary: "It is not clear that Paul condemns all other forms of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Paul's original Greek word was 'porneia' which means to sell and refers to slaves bought and sold for prostitution. Where Paul was condemning prostitution or trafficking in slaves, the Latin fathers substituted 'fornicatio', which led readers to falsely believe that Paul was condemning all forms of premarital sexual intercourse."
"The Poisoning of Eros" Raymond Lawrence, Jr., Episcopal extensively quotes many resources. Concludes a new sexual ethic is needed based on affirmation of sex and valuing polyfidelity communities over exclusivity. Discusses porneia and concludes it is limited to the cultic prostitution having nothing to do with singles sex or monogamy. Points out Torah said nothing about adultery for men, only for women. A clergyman for 31 years, now teaches and supervises clergy in pastoral counseling.
"Body Theology" James B. Nelson, Professor of Christian Ethics, United
Theological Seminary, New Brighton, Minnesota proposes we reclaim sexuality and rejoice in a true Body Theology that is sex-affirming, understanding of sexuality as a moral good rooted in the sacred value of our sensuality and erotic power without needing justifications that applied to a much different biblical culture.
"After Polygamy Was Made A Sin" by John Cairncross, provides extensive research of the social history of Christian polygamy.
A study of canonization history and the politics of church councils includes violence and many power plays. The decisions about what would go into the Bible and what would not were very much based on the usefulness of certain texts to Christians as well as Church politics.
I do not understand how some can claim the Bible to be without error, but I do believe that it probably is inspired. That is God did have His hand in mans fighting and decisions, and that the methods the Church used to sort out what writings should be part of scripture were sound. I assume in my interpretations that the Bible is inspired. However, you still have to realize while it was inspired by God, it was written by men based on their understanding of events, they wrote it in Greek and Hebrew and in a certain cultural setting 2000-4000 years ago.
Biblical Text Imperfections
There are significant statistical discrepancies between the accounts in I & II Samuel and I & II Chronicles. For example consider II Samuel 10:18 in which David is said to have killed 700 Aramean chariot warriors. In I Chronicles 19:18 the figure is 7000. Another example: in Gen 15:13 God predicts that Abraham's descendants will be enslaved in Egypt 400 years, but in Exodus 12:41 the figure is 430 years. Did Aaron die before (Deut 10) or after (Num 33) the Israelites visited Jotbathah? Finally, does the rabbit and rock badger chew the cud as Leviticus 11:6 and Deut 14:7 seem to indicate? If the Bible needs to be "fixed" why did God allow it to get broken?
We also have errors in transcription in the N.T. We have variant manuscripts written in the original languages, which means there were copying errors in some cases. In other cases, the scribe intentionally changed the copy because he didn't agree with it. In many English translations, these errors and variants are noted in footnotes which say something like "other ancient authorities say..." One of the most obvious variants is the 3 different endings of Mark. One in the O.T. is the creation story in Genesis 1:24 God creates animals, in Gen 1:26 God creates male and female humans after animals. That differs from the creation story in Gen 2:7 where God creates genderless being before even the plants. Genesis 2:18-19 says God creates the animals after God creates a genderless humans. In Proverbs 8:22-31 is yet another creation story in which God creates wisdom first. This text is the inspiration of another creation story in John 1:1-5 in which God creates the Logos (Word) first. Another creation story is reflected in Psalm 104. These are but a few examples.
The most damaging attack on inerrancy comes from the noting that 80% of the NT quotes of the OT comes from the LXX (Septuagint--the Greek translation of the Hebrew, circa 250 to 100 B.C.) Anyone who attempts a study of it will soon recognize it is a flawed translation.
A Book That Tries But Fails To Explain Errors
A book that tries to explain the many Bible inconsistencies is "Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties" by Gleason Archer. As one person said regarding this book: "Sure it IS possible to explain away all of the contradictions and errors in the Bible, provided you're willing to accept explanations that are far-fetched enough, and provided you've got enough faith." She goes on that why should we even be concerned it is free from factual error. The Bible itself never claims to be free of factual error (it claims that God's word is inspired, valuable for instruction etc.), but it would have seemed very odd to the ancient authors of the Bible that some day people would regard what they wrote as somehow magically preserved from errors of fact. This whole "inerrancy" business really got started in the 19th century, as an overreaction to scholarly study of the Bible at that time -- when secular scholars started to look at the Bible from a critical and historical standpoint, the conservatives dug in their heels and started taking the extreme position on the other side.
Gleason says the accurate preservation of statistics and the spelling of proper names is notoriously difficult in manuscript transmission, and I Samuel has more than its share of textual errors. But the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy guarantees only the original manuscripts of Scripture as preserved from all error; it does not guarantee absolute trustworthiness of all copies. Quite a convenient rationalization isn't it? His argument can't be disproved because there is no way of checking the original manuscripts - none exists. It does bring us back to the question as to why if God could keep the originals from error, He couldn't or wouldn't keep the copies from error.
You can't say that scribal error led to "rabbits chewing the cud" or the conflicting accounts of Judas' death or the cleansing of the Temple occurring at the beginning of Jesus' ministry in the book of John versus the end in the other gospels. You have to account for these erroneous details and literally hundreds of others. My assessment is that even if the Bible was 25% error, it would still be valuable and authoritative because I recognize the vast majority of it to be true, particularly in regard to the love of God, the nature and condition of humankind, etc.
The Lost Books of the Bible
These documents were written between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D., soon after Christ's Crucifixion, during the early spread of Christianity. Immediately after Christ's death the first Christians lived out Jesus' teachings in small self-sufficient communes. But thanks largely to Paul and his disciples, Christianity spread to southern Europe and Asia Minor, mostly by word of mouth. As it spread as a powerful force, more was written. Two major councils were held in North Africa (in Hippo in 393 and Carthage in 397) which established the canons of the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha. Since then there have been changes in the Old Testament, and much later the Apocrypha was dropped from the Protestant Bible at the Council of Trent in 1545-63.
It took almost 200 years to decide on the biblical canon, with many great authorities debating what should be included. A great debate was in choosing the gospels. It was decided to have four gospels, representing the four winds representing the Holy Spirit.
Rejected gospels include Peter's Gospel, which was once held as highly as those of Matthew and Mark, and more highly than those of Luke and John, buy was rejected because it differs too much from the others that were chosen. The Gospel of Thomas was rejected since Thomas says that he who understands Christ's words will be saved, rather than those that believe as the other Gospel's and Paul's Epistles. Mark 16:9-20 used to be a hallmark of Christian teaching but is now known to be a fake, added by some unknown in a later century. This includes a major quotation from Jesus himself.
The compilation of the Bible was not an act of any definite occurrence. It was a matter complicated and abstruse. It was an evolution at the hands of Churchman of various beliefs and purposes. In the formulation of early Church doctrine there was dissension, personal jealousy, intolerance, persecution and bigotry. The story of the first council of Nice, where Arius was commanded by the Bishop of Alexandria to quit his beliefs or be declared a heretic, and his writings ordered destroyed, is an example of many things that happened.
Biblical imperfections in no way diminish the value of the Bible for the broad picture of God's love, direction for the early Church in Hebrew culture, the historical Christ and His love. We need to be more restrained however in teaching doctrine and legalism rather than love.
Sample Prodigy Post From Former Inerrant Believer
I share a post that I very much agree with from Gary Marshall. It parallels much of my own experience going from a fundamental Billy Graham counselor, Active in Christian Business Mens committee, elder etc. Gary adds another experience to mine and says it better than I do.
Gary use to believe in inerrancy, primarily he says, "because I never had a real need to examine the issue in detail. All of those within my circle of friends were inerrantists, so I was too. A few developments led me to change, however. I presently am working on a doctorate in biblical studies."
"The first development occurred as I began to come into contact with Christians with different points of view from mine...I came to respect them as Christians and strive to understand why they didn't believe in inerrancy. After all, I had been taught in Bible School that non-inerrantists were liberals and by either inference or direct statements were thus non-Christians or carnal at best."
"At first I started out to show them the error of their ways. I began an intensive study and this led to the second development. I found numerous contradictions that could not be explained by any appeal to reason."
"But, now I must interject. Though I am utterly convinced there are errors of fact in the Bible, I also am convinced of its trustworthiness and power as a source of God's self-revelation. I accept that it is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and correction."
He goes on to discuss while there are no intentional errors, the NT relies on recollection of facts by humans which explain many of the contradictions. Remember Christ taught it was his WORDS that we should follow. There is no original writings of Christ but only recordings of the disciples made long after the fact. I can show many examples of unexplainable errors. However, if only one single error can be found, it can not be inerrant. And there are many directly conflicting scriptures to those that are not blinded by the idol of inerrancy.
Religious Addiction and Abuse
A clinic called the Center for Religious Addiction and Abuse, is not anti religion - the psychologist and counselors who work there are Episcopalian and Methodist. But they say that some people use religion the same way some use alcohol, to cover up painful self doubts, escape reality, and avoid personal responsibility.
A good book is When God Becomes A Drug by Leo Booth, an Episcopalian priest.
The Cult Of Fundamentalism
Statement From A Lesbian Addicted To Fundamentalism (writing Dave on Prodigy):
I want to let all you kind people know I am realizing that I have never met God, but I have a bad case of Religious Addiction to Fundamentalism. I have been in the Church since I was 10. I have NEVER seen God as LOVE, not until I came here and met you all.
I believe that God is going to bring me through this and I will get to know Him, without all the diseased people in between Him and I. My main objective today is to work myself towards a healthy spirituality, which for me, means breaking the chains of my fundamentalist roots.
I am through with this hypocritical life. Either something is terribly wrong, someone has misread the Bible, or there is an awfully cruel God, I have determined that option 2 is the most likely. I WILL pull myself from this cult, I WILL become a whole person, and I know that this will be accomplished with God's love and guiding hand. He has already guided me to you (support on Prodigy).
And when I get through this completely, I will be a stronger women, a more courageous person, and a proud lesbian...and somewhere down the road I will, God willing, be a factor in another women's oppressed spirit finding freedom from this bondage of religious addiction.
Another Fundamentalist Example
She had a need for overwhelming control, she was very much into religiosity. She was the great policewomen of the world. Her husband was a kind, quiet man. People were drawn to him and asked him questions and wanted to be around him. The women aggressed into others lives, announcing their shortcomings and flaws.
It turned out after considerable counseling that the women who had to call everyone sinners and non believers was actually having to get a lot of old anger out. The fundamentalist beliefs was perfect. She could strike out at others in the name of God! She was getting her anger out, at the wrong people of course, but nevertheless acting out a long ago deprivation or experience of pain.
The anger at the non fundamentalists was a fear that they will somehow take away the pacifier, or experience that keeps them from re-feeling or remembering the pain. This behavior becomes an addiction. Often the louder the speaking out in self-righteousness the bigger the hurt that has not been dealt with.
So much energy spent scouring the scriptures for how to condemn others instead of spreading Christ's love as he taught. Its another way to keep busy, another way to feel just a little more holy, to make you feel just a little bit better about yourself by putting down others, and maybe even give you some outward appearance that gives you supposed prestige with those similar addicted. The promise of praying for the non fundamentalist, is further food for self-righteousness, especially when the person is already a Christian with perhaps a more personal walk with God that doesn't require exclusion but inclusion. Often she would claim she was witnessing for Christ, when in reality most people wanted nothing to do with her example of Christianity.
The last group this person needs is her fundamentalists friends that will just make excuses for the cult like behavior. What she needs is counseling to deal with her anger and why she has such a need to control and feel self-righteous. She is not to be condemned but loved in hopes that her heart will change and she will recognize the harm she does to Christianity by scripture whipping rather than showing Christ's redefining all the scriptures as love.
Our God is very loving and powerful and He can help everyone with their lives, all we need to do is love and accept one another.
Summary & Conclusion
Jesus gave us a wonderful parable of the sower that most rule bound Christians ignore. Jesus taught that what we receive from his words will be in proportion to the soil we have in our hearts. Thus someone with love, goodness and kindness in his heart will seek from the Bible an understanding of how Jesus expressed his tolerance, acceptance and love for others.
But unlike Jesus, many Christians express the opposite. They seem to focus on verses of law that allow claiming power and authority. This shows lack of self-esteem in many Christians having to use power and control of law rather than the greater responsibility of love which Jesus taught. Jesus clearly replaced and reversed many of the laws, in favor of love, but this is ignored by many Christians.
Many Christians use selected verses to point out wrongs in someone's life and call them sinners. Perhaps this makes them feel powerful but is not what Jesus taught or acted. For example in Leviticus God gave Moses laws to follow. According to God no one with disabilities is allowed to make an offering to God (Lev 27:18-33). Lev 19:19 forbids wearing clothing made of two fibers. Lev 17:10 clearly says that if we eat rare meat God will turn against us.
Why do Christians ignore these laws but not others? It seems obvious that some of these laws are not based on love but were ritualistic laws for a specific purpose whose time has long passed.
Yet many Christians use the law to for falsely translate certain Hebrew/Greek passages to suppress sexuality. That makes one feel morally superior and in control of others. But their is even less biblical basis for example, to teach abstinence for singles, monogamy or that anything is wrong with homosexual orientation, than the Levitical laws above.
Christians and Bible translators have always used texts to express their own bigotry and prejudice in their hearts. They use the Bible as their authority yet this false teachings of hate and bigotry are much more of an abomination than for example, so many of God's creation born naturally homosexual. This poor soil in their hearts allow them to ignore their own sins and they get to feel self-righteous by attacking someone they are uncomfortable with. In the case of sexual orientation this says more about the insecurity over their own sexuality by falsely using the Bible to call homosexuals sinners.
The saddest part is it keeps them from learning what the love Jesus tried to teach is all about. Christians seem to need a rule book, rather than follow the teachings of Christ who replaced all the rules with only the rule of love. Many Christians can't accept the higher level of responsibility based on love. Its easier just to quote the rules. I call this Biblianity which is far different than true Christianity following Christ that replaced all the rules with the responsibility of love
I strongly believe based on both my personal seeking God's will in my life and based on scripture that Christ freed man to think for himself with guidance from the Holy Spirit on God's will for him in his own life. This was the central issue of Christ's teaching - that the O.T. laws were to show how impossible it was for man to keep a set of laws, and that love was the issue not laws. Love for God, Christ, others and most importantly love and acceptance of self. If God loves mankind, why should not each person also love themselves.
I strongly believe you can not fully love others, until you first love yourself. This love of self includes recognizing the gifts and abilities God has given you and His desire to personally communicate with and guide you in His will for your life. But we will never be perfect only growing. I believe the we also need to love and accept everyone's beliefs based on where they are in their life. Most of all I suggest "Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet", as a famous Christian teacher's buttons said.
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