Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Bible

As a collection of books, the Bible has been around for a long time. There are few texts that can compete with the age of the Bible, and those that can are similar to the Bible in content and style.dusty books

Some have dismissed the Bible as merely a mythology, much like, I presume, the Greek mythology and Egyptian mythology that I enjoy reading so much about and have since taking a wonderful class from a wonderful teacher in high school.

Some people have dismissed Christianity because of some of the things they have read in the Bible such as the violence in Judges, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and the seemingly cannibalistic practice of the Lord's Supper (Eucharist).

Ok, I can appreciate that. The Bible is violent, especially the Old Testament. And if I had picked up John chapter six without reading anything else in the Bible, I would think that's weird, too.

But that's the key. Like any book, the Bible has to be taken as a whole. Imagine picking up Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and just start reading at page 313. Or Dickens' "The Tale of Two Cities" at page 286. Imagine walking into the movie "Runaway Bride" and watching the hair coloring scene and then leaving because you didn't want to see a movie about a beauty parlor run by vindictive women.

The Bible is an incredibly complex piece of literature. It is unlike anything else ever written in the modern era. It was written by over forty different men and women over a span of 1500 years. It covers topics as diverse as animal sacrifice and the courting of a wife.

The Bible is also incredibly consistent when you understand what it is for, what it's purpose is. All literature has a purpose. The stories of Greek Mythology explain how the world got to the way it is (was) in the eyes of ancient Greeks. Hellers' "Catch-22" is a story revealing the insanity of some bureaucratic thinking.

The Bible also has a purpose. It's purpose is somewhat simple. Maybe too simple to be accepted more widely. The Bible's purpose is to show how much God loves us and to what lengths He goes to bring us that love.

The Bible seems mythic. I agree. It does. The reason is because it is mythic. Christianity is a myth that also happens to be true. These two concepts - myth and truth - are not mutually exclusive.

This is what J.R.R. Tolkien told C.S. Lewis and it struck a chord in Lewis. So much so that C. S. Lewis started looking at the Bible and the Christian faith in a different way. Lewis went on to become one of the great Christian writers of the 20th Century.

But Lewis wasn't convinced solely by what he read in the Bible. Lewis was influenced and convinced by his friends, most notable of which was J.R.R. Tolkien, and what they shared with him that they found in the Bible.

I won't argue about the Bible. It is what it is. It has been taken apart, put back together again, and debated and argued for centuries. It can be argued and defended by people much smarter than me.

What I can do is live my life by what I've read in the pages of the Bible. No, I'm not going to smite the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. But I will love my neighbor, love my enemies, honor my father and mother, and tell the Good News about Jesus.

In the pages of the Bible are fantastic stories of intrigue, adventure and love. In the pages of the Bible are some of the greatest works of poetry ever written. But more importantly for me, I've found my life in the pages of the Bible. I've found my purpose in these pages. I've found a God who moved heaven and earth to save me and who loves me without condition.

But it wasn't solely in the pages of the Bible. It was significant men and women who shared their own lives with me, lives lived according to what they read in the Bible. People like Hazel Fish, John Zellmer, Pam King, Len Blonski, Jeff Meyer, Steve Kline, Mark Shaltanis, Kurt Taylor, Paul Pett, Nancy Dickerhoff and a slew of others.

Yes, the Bible is an incredible book. It is an old book. But it is amazing and wonderful what the Bible can do in the lives and through the lives of people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good explanation Ed.

As for the Bible's purpose, I would also add that it is a guidebook for Christians (for anyone actually but primarily Christians).

"For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps."
1 Peter 2:21 (ESV)

God is who he is, God does what he does. We perceive what he does as good or bad or neither good nor bad but necessary. Perception is the ultimate example of "to each his own".

When you look at the Bible as a guidebook with Jesus as the example of how we should live it on Earth, things become much clearer. Perceptions disappear and clear pathways come into view.

Think of buying something that requires assembly. If you just dump all the parts on the floor and then grab one and say "wow, this looks nasty, I could kill a man with this" then you're missing the point. Take the instructions, follow them and you will end up with something well made and beautiful.