Just had a somewhat passionate conversation with someone about my thoughts on the Bible. Our discussion didn’t start on this subject (it actually started with discussing human trafficking), but we were led down that path anyway.
As I’ve said before, I question some of what is in the Bible. This isn’t to say that I don’t believe that truth exists in the Bible, but just that some parts of it give me pause and I wonder if God really said something (or ordered it) or if the men that wrote and assembled the Bible are saying that God said or ordered something, when, really, it was coming from them (in other words, did they seek to justify certain things they felt or wanted to believe by saying that “God said” it was supposed to be that way). This isn’t to say that any of the Bible’s authors outright lied on God or deliberately sought to mislead readers, only that I question if things really went down the way that some of the authors have written certain events and orders.
For example, 1 Samuel 15 describes a situation where Samuel tells Saul that God told him to tell Saul to go kill a particular group of men and all of the women, infant children and animals belonging to that group. Saul went out to kill, based on this directive, but allowed some of the women, children and animals to live. According to the text, God grew angry with Saul because His instructions for murder weren’t followed to the tee.
Now, granted, the people that Saul was supposed to kill were portrayed as sinners and, of course, there was a past beef involved. But this story just doesn’t add up to me for a number of reasons. First, God supposedly loves the world…He teaches us to love and forgive enemies and it’s been reported that He let’s His sun and rain fall on the just and the unjust, alike. So why the major grudge against this group of people? And why would he order the murder of infant children and animals? Also, God the Father is represented in Christ the Son who is full of love and forgiveness. I cannot imagine Yahushua telling someone to kill ANYONE, much less infant children and animals. And, finally, based on how we know mankind to act, it is plausible that the men had issues with one another and, in order to conquer one group, the best battle strategy was to wipe everyone out. Knowing mankind the way that I do, I question how much of this story was based on Samuel and Saul’s own wishes for power or perhaps even their misunderstanding of what God wanted.
Now, since I wasn’t there and God didn’t speak to me on this, I can’t say whether God actually handed the order down or whether it was either a lie or a misinterpretation.
Ditto for the story of Lot and his daughters. It is easier for me to believe a drunk widower made sexual advances on his daughters than it is for me to believe that two virgin daughters got their father drunk in order to have sex with him. Again, knowing mankind the way that I do, stories like these give me pause. I wasn’t there, I don’t know how it really went down, but I do know it sounds oddly convenient for Lot to be the victim instead of the other way around.
I guess if Lot’s telling the story, his daughters were the aggressors. If Saul was the one doing the conquering (in order to become King), of course, the bad guys will be painted in the worst possible light and maybe Saul needed to believe that killing every single living man, woman, child and animal was not only necessary, but commanded from God. Maybe that’s how you sleep at night after doing such a thing. After all, if God ordered it, you bear no responsibility for a barbaric crime, right?
Again, since I wasn’t there, I’m not prepared (or arrogant enough) to call stories like these out as false, but they are very questionable.
Bottom line: when men write their own stories, it’s not uncommon to find them slanted in a certain way.
And this is where the discussion I had earlier this evening took off.
The person that I was talking to cannot understand how I can believe that some of the Bible is true (most of it, actually), but have ‘questions‘ about other parts.
My response is that the Bible is a big text, with lots of stories written by a lot of different authors. Today, if 100 people got together to publish a book consisting of short stories about their lives and experiences, it’s possible to believe some of their stories outright, but question others. Doesn’t make the entire publication false, just means that some individual author’s stories sound more credible than others.
Now, the person that I was talking to was raised in a religious family and the Bible is the cornerstone of their faith. So, for this person, I understand how it’s difficult to hear anyone question the Bible on one hand, yet quote it on another. But, for me, it’s not so much of a stretch.
I tried to explain to them that my faith isn’t Bible-based. My relationship with God started long before I ever picked up a Bible to seriously read or study it. So, for me, while I read it daily, study it, pray about its contents and rely on its wisdom and guidance, it is less important to me that it is proven to be 100% accurate. My faith is not one bit bothered by whether or not every word in it is true or not.
Anyway, the conversation ended with us deciding that we simply disagree. This person told me that I shouldn’t quote the Bible in a debate if I can’t blindly believe every word of it (blindly, as in not have questions about parts of it). And my response was that I’m perfectly comfortable quoting and living according to the scriptures that I quote, because the truth that they contain resonates with my Spirit. I’m also comfortable with other parts of it leaving me with questions. Either way, God’s still God.
So, I’ve had a long day and it’s quite late. I’m sure this post probably sounds like a barely coherent rambling, but the conversation was interesting, nonetheless.