Bibli-idolatry

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Gatekeeper, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    I've been having a :cough: discussion on another board about the accuracy of the bible. I think there is some pretty dark stuff in the OT, and have been questioning the legitimacy of it all. It would seem that many get quite offended when you question scripture. It's almost as if they believe I'm questioning God himself!

    We are to exercise discernment in life, so why not exercise discernment when it comes to the holy writ? Or is this so taboo that we dare not question a single issue (No matter how evil the issue may seem)?

    Are people falling prey to bibli-idolatry, or am I falling prey to wiles of Satan (As some have actually suggested). :p It seems to me that people have placed the bible above damn near everything else, and view all it contains to be incorruptible. I think the scriptures are good for many things, but using them as a foundation by which we measure everything else seems a little foolish to me.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. friendofbill

    friendofbill Established Member

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    Makes me think of all the TV evangelists I have heard, shouting at me that "the bible is the Woooord of Gawd" ...

    Certainly the bible tells us about the Word of God, but the bible itself tells us it is not the Word of God; that in fact the Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God, made flesh.

    Too many folks seem to think that John 1:14 should actually read, "The Word became Book, and dwelt among us." It sems to be a driving impetus to try to contain God, to press Him in the pages of the book so He cannot get away, to pin Him down in a neat assemblage of words, words, words ... which can only have the effect of coming between us and Him.

    So maybe instead of going to the bible first, and hoping it will tell us about God ... we should go to God first, and let Him tell us about the bible. That would put the book in proper perspective.

    Or so it seems to me.

    Art
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Namaste Art and James,

    To me you are both very much on target, the exploration and questioning and biblical criticism is valuable for all concerned.

    For me it went something like this. First I found some OT scripture troubling, the death and destruction....and I discovered if I couldn't substitute the word Love for the word G!d...that scripture just didn't seem right and I had to look at it another way. And then I found much NT scripture befuddling, and found I had to look at that another way. I read interpretations and strongs and others thought but it didn't solve everything until I started to look at metaphysics, at the culture of the day, and at the author's perspaectives...

    This all led me to learn when and how the bible was written and edited and translated and toyed with... which in turn led me to discover thru the works of others far more knowledgable than I which scriptures don't belong in the bible, as they were added, and which parts are purely metaphor and allegory, or sarcasm and myth.

    Now I have seen for some this exploration caused them to lose their faith, but for me it opened my eyes to truth and mystery and allows me to enjoy my faith and the bible oooohhh soooo much more. No I don't hold it as an idol or worship it....but it is my number one book to reference.
     
  4. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    Thanks for the thoughts, guys ....

    On one hand I find the scriptures to be a valuable (If not needed) tool for learning and separating very basic concepts of good and evil. On the other hand, there seems to be much in the writ itself that attributes to God what I've come to understand evil to be.

    On another thread the question was asked "Is God good"? Well, if we take the bible to represent God accurately, then I can't see how anyone could claim that God (As described in scripture) is "good".

    I have by no means lost my faith in God, but I have to admit that I no longer hold scripture to be infallible and error free. The book has taken me on a journey through the darkest realms of humanity and through the light of life itself. It pulls and tugs at my senses, forcing me to choose between the two contrasting views of our Creator.

    Is He a bloodthirsty tyrant, or is He a merciful God of love? I obviously choose the latter. Isn't it possible that God allowed the bible to hide a great mystery? "Will the real God please stand up?" Maybe He wishes for us to choose between the false god of the world and the one true God (Our Creator). It's not like we don't have the mental faculty to determine right from wrong, good from evil, or light from darkness, right?

    The book isn't meant to be read on autopilot, nor is all it contains to be accepted as truth. I think we have to decipher the intent behind each passage, separating the wheat from the chaff and do so through our innate sense of right and wrong.

    To me, our creator is a God of love. I truly think that much of the OT is representing a false god created in the image of primitive man. I'm not suggesting that there are deliberate misrepresentations, but I am suggesting that man [IS] fallible and not to be trusted (Without question) with the things of God. When it comes to swallowing (Hook - Line - Sinker) all the bible contains, I think a person is doing a great injustice to self and to God by not searching scriptural matters out more thoroughly.
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Namaste Gatekeeper,

    I think there are a couple of things afoot here.

    One is that often in the bible G!d is made in our image (the vengeful evil sort) and as a scapegoat, "Why did you kill all those people?", "G!d told me too, His voice came down from the heavens and said slaughter them all, and then he told me women and children too and keep the virgins for ourselves" So in this case on the surface, we that believe in a forgiving, caring G!d, have some issues. G!d wrote it, I believe it, any questions? um.....errr....yeah...

    These are the places I have to look closely and say is this my G!d? I believe these are the places that you indicate he embodies evil as you see it. So these are the places I have to wonder why?? Why is this included in my sacred text?

    Now when we explore the bible we often see the importance of names and places, and how they mean more than just a name. For instance Moses asks the burning bush...what do I call you...Jacob wants to know who he is wrestling with....this is because a name tells you so much about a person. When we read about the twelve tribes, the name of each has a trait, it is stated in the bible when he was born she named him X because it means Y. Or someone stops in a valley and they hit good water and they name the well, and then the town abundance.... Or Sarai, becomes Sarah and Abram becomes Abraham...as they elevate in consciousness. Or look at the names of the desciples that Jesus brought to him, not just to teach them, but to lean on them and learn from them, John - Love, Peter- Faith.....

    So when G!d tells one group of people to slaughter another group of peoplems and you switch the names of the peoples, with the (meanings of the names or ) nature of the people, it becomes a completely new story. I don't have one at the tip of my fingers right now...but it might be righteous judgement slaying envy and jealousy...and don't only kill all the men and warriors but kill the old people (the cause of the negative trait) and the women and children (those that support, enable the trait and the offshoot ideas and continuing habits)...but keep the virgins for yourself (the concepts that are not spoiled by the negative). And suddenly the story which may or may not be historically accurate becomes a battle in our own consciouness about our own growth and not about anyone else at all.

    And this I can meditate on, contemplate, and sleep peacefully enjoying the breadth and depth of scripture and the love that G!d exudes should I choose to look beneath the surface....
     
  6. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    .... Taking all this in consideration, and the effort that must go into such a process, I'm curious if we were ever meant to dig so deep? Is the bible alive, does it possess many many layers to be interpreted. With so much mystery, how can any two people ever agree what means what? If we were meant to dig this deep, were we meant to live at all, or to keep our noses buried in the writ itself?

    Meh, I like the bible, wil - but I'm not ready to waste much more time or to put much more effort into deciphering the meaning of every story told within those pages. Perhaps it speaks to us individually, or rather meets us where we are? Can it unite us collectively, though? Was it ever meant to to bring two people to the same place?

    To be honest, I think I've actually read enough of the writ. The OT lead me to Christ (And on a great adventure) and Christ lead me to love. I think love is enough to place my faith in .... That God is and that Jesus personified it during His ministry (The rest is extra baggage). :eek:

    Blessings
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Rarely do two people agree...just look at the number of denominations and religions. What we have is a personal exploration as we all have different experiences.
    That is the joy, you don't have to keep your nose buried. It is meant to be practical and utilized in your life. Reading about slaughter of others is not very practical for today....but realizing the book IS your autobiography, every line is about raising YOU in consciousness opens it up to be the most amazing personal growth piece ever written.
    Exactly it is our staircase to G!d, our personal adventure to a personal relationship with source. (or it is for Christians anyway....the Koran is for Muslims, the Gita for Hindi's, The Tanakh for Jews...etc.)
    Not if we choose to insist that our interpretation is right for each other. This is not about saving another, or nudging another see...see...but about a personal exploration...and rising yourself up rises up those around you and our world.
    Sure...it's called Heaven.
     
  8. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    I can certainly see where Jesus' teachings can be be viewed as practical, but the entire bible? Good lord, it takes me a year just to read it in its entirety much less learn to apply every tale practically. I do like how when I'm perplexed with a life situation, how I can open the book and an answer (Albeit vague) can be found.

    Personal growth? I'm not sure I agree. Many people take the content to a very dark place. So much so that they will justify just about any act with scripture itself ... Never mind what Jesus taught. Love your enemies has become code for condemning others to hell for not agreeing with their interpretation.

    What if .... What if scripture (In its entirety) has become a stumbling block for many believers? Not to mention skeptics with all the fanciful tales of war and destruction (Attributed to God). Either God is a God of love who loves all, or He is partial to a few of His elect, and has become a Lord of war for them.

    I know you are suggesting symbolism, but who can decipher the meaning accurately? I think when the writ speaks of destruction and war, then its man who has come to attribute these things to God. I myself believe that we (Mankind) are our worse enemy, and that God's only desire is for us to learn to love one another, and be good stewards over His creation.

    We live in a dangerous world .... Perhaps so we might be better prepared for the world to come, and realize that when we live life with selfish lust in our hearts that many suffer as a result. Not to mention the tales told in scripture giving mixed messages to the fold (How dangerous is that?).

    Yeah, it's a great book for reading, but quite lousy when it comes to getting us to heaven. That's Jesus' job, right? Isn't it He (Who personified love) that has shown us the way? Love is a very simple concept that even infants understand. If love is not the answer, what is? That God has multiple personalities .... One day He's mad as hell and ready to send man to conquer others, the next day He's merciful and loving and forgiving, sending His son to redeem the entire world.

    I tell ya, the study of many books is weariness to the soul. I'll choose love over the bible any day of the week. It makes a pretty good guide in the end. Do you think I'm missing out on some keen insight by ditching the old baggage, wil?

    I think some (Not you) need it for a crutch, but I hardly believe the bible is necessary for salvation. For training in righteousness, maybe .... but salvation comes when we are free from the things that hinder our growth as a peoples.

    Motto:
    "If it ain't love then it ain't of God" that's pretty much my view when I'm reading the bible. Could I be wrong? Of course, but what if mankind has attributed to God the things of Satan? What if we end up with what we choose? An angry, bloodthirsty war Lord, or a God who not only loves His creation, but Is love itself?

    Also, if the dark stories are mere symbolism, what's the point in trying to decipher the meaning? Why couldn't I just choose love instead pulling my hair out when I run into yet another story that goes against what I believe God to be?

    Truth be told, I discard what doesn't fit my concept of God. I don't want Him to be this and that, so I shrug those things off as misrepresentations. Others suggest that by me cherry picking like this, that I can't possibly know Gods fullness. Well hell!! That's the point isn't it? I don't wish to know anger, wrath, war, destruction, or a blood hungry deity .... all I want to know of our Creator is love. Does that make me wrong?

    Sorry for the ranting there, wil :eek:
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Well there's two sides to the question.

    One is, of course, that to accept Scripture without 'question' is a self-willed blindness. On the other hand, how are we equipped to interpret Scripture?

    If it is Revelation, then we are obliged to accept it might not necessarily disclose itself to us fully, just because we are who we are. Sacra doctrina does not conform to any literary genre, although it can comprise a number of literary genres.

    If one thinks about it, people will insist that they can interpret Scripture unaided, and yet readily acknowledge they get lost with a domestic appliance instruction manual.

    +++

    It's rather a matter of being equipped to make the necessary discernment. One has to be educated about the interpretation of Scripture first ... that's my point ... the same as one has to be educated about anything.

    Really? As moral direction, I think they're unsurpassed. It depends what you mean by 'everything else' I suppose.

    Thomas
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Ah ... but then one sets oneself up as the benchmark by which God is valued, which is a tricky path, as you acknowledge:
    There's the rub ... that rather stops your first point in its tracks, I would have thought?

    OK. Then how does one equip oneself to search out the truth of matters if one accepts that it is we who have to conform ourselves to God, not God who has to conform Himself to us?

    Thomas
     
  11. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Namaste Gk,

    No worries on the ranting...I love the expression, or rather you expressing.

    All I can say is to each their own. When it comes to exploration and reading, I enjoy it...however I doubt that I hold a candle to our brother Thomas who I imagine is regularly emmersed in his studies, nose in a book, references at his side, notepad in his lap... between work and playing with his kids.

    For some of us it makes us giddy when we find links from one insight to the next or find a reference that opens up a scripture like a flower... For others the opening of a flower in nature is all they need. Most of us are somewhere in between.

    For me I was utilizing the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary while reading. And to be frank I was wondering where all these interpretations came from. Then I was invited to a baby naming ceremony at a synagogue of one of my friends for their child...and was opened up to the Jewish tradition in this regard. Then standing in line at a grocery store while the ladies in front of me were reading from this baby naming book, with all the meanings of babies names... And then I had my Dad's old bible from when he was a kid and back behind the maps in the back of the book were defintions of the meanings of names and places...that matched the definitions (without all the detail). And then of course sometimes the traits and nature of the names are written out in the descriptions in the book.

    So these various other 'confirmations' increased my comfort level with the book...and then as I read the contentious passages I have an alternative contemplation...and you are correct it is not only one, but often many...and many levels and I can see how it has played out in my life at various times with each differing understanding.... and I know that in the future... I will probably develop yet a new understanding and may even be able to grapple with the historical or literal content.

    Are you missing out? I don't think you are if you don't think you are.
     
  12. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    How many have the time (Or patience) to successfully learn how to interpret the writ? How does one tell allegory from history, from literalism, etc? I was terrified of God my first stroll through the scriptures .... Heck I was terrified of Jesus too with His talk of hell and damnation.

    Is God loving or not, Thomas? Is He a Lord of war and destruction, or does He care about us all?

    What shall we use as an aid? Should we rely on others to teach us, or should we allow ourselves to be lead by a greater force (Spirit) such as love? Mankind's interpretations are a huge cluster **** it seems to me, or at least when it comes to the slim majority of the Christian populace.

    So it comes down to an education .... Thought out by other men? I'm not sure I agree that this is the best method.

    Tell that to the Crusaders, and those involved in the Salem witch trials. I'm sure they were using scripture as a moral guide as well.
     
  13. shawn

    shawn Well-Known Member

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    Having been raised up in one tradition and to spend time reading texts and devoting emotional energy to that perspective, only to hear decades later that the interpretation is incorrect or very questionable, does not usually cause relief, quite the opposite.
    People will defend what they have accepted, even if they deep down know it to be wrong as they are simply too lazy to do the huge undertaking of starting all over again from scratch.
    So, not saying you are lazy gatekeeper, but consider even your reaction to wils suggestion:
    It is plain that you do not really wish to do the work necessary to mine out that heart of gold.

    Yes....love will carry you through,
    but only sweat (study and labor) will give you wisdom and understanding.

    We are charged to be holy as God is holy and most interpret that to mean be good on a moral level, yet the word has to do with being complete.
    So how can you be complete if you won't do the labor of love and seek after wisdom like a lover (song of solomon)?

    Wisdom is like the spirit, which moves through the words of our scriptures,
    but only the eye which has become single will have the confusion clear up and then they will understand clearly as they move from darkness of misinterpretation to enlightenment.http://www.interfaith.org/forum/let-thine-eye-be-single-12532.html#post222781
     
  14. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    I'm not sure that wisdom comes from reading, but rather through the application of knowledge. I've done my share of study, but you're right, I'm not sure I'm willing to lose too much more of my life confusing myself with all the contradictions in scripture. I no longer have the desire to use a book written by primitive men to gain insight that may not be insight at all.

    If love is truly enough, then why not apply [It] in my life, and settle with the smidgeon of wisdom gained from a life lived through this Spirit? The "wisdom" gained through love, would prob exceed that gained from a book, anyway. :) Not to take from the pearls within the writ, but isn't love the greatest of all pearls (Faith, hope, and Love)?
     
  15. friendofbill

    friendofbill Established Member

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    Agreed, totally, provided it is understood that the word "love" is used properly. Today, "love" is a word that is [mis]used to signify anything from liking your dog to sleeping with your pick-up from the local bar. In Scripture, Love = God = Love, period.

    I would say again, priorities matter in this regard: Jesus did not say, "Come to my book," He said, "come to Me." Because He is Love. And when we come to Him, we get the key to the meaning of the book. The reason there are so many "interpretatiions" of the bible is that we are all "interpreting" it from our own intellects, from our own perspectives, from the foundation of our own backgrounds, when the key to knowing what it means is the Author Himself. That, IMO, is what is meant by "No Scripture is of private interpretation." Until we get out of our own heads and get over being impressed withour own intellects, we will not get past that barrier, and we will still be "interpreting" the bible "as we see it." Again, Jesus did not say, "my book is the way." He said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." As the old hymns says it, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus." Get lost in him. Then the bible, and the meaning of the bible, will no longer be the subject of investigation, but of knowledge.

    If all I had was a book about the birth and life of my wife, I would be impoverished; but I have her at my side. The same goes with Jesus. Those who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him from some astute declaration He made, or some creed He handed them or some book He autgoraphed and passed around ... they recognized him in the breaking of bread -- i.e., in immediate, personal fellowship. It think that is how we know him, too; how we use the bible should be "at His personal direction."
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  16. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    As I suggested to wil ....

    "If it ain't love, it ain't of God"
    In other words, use love as a guide when it comes to deciphering the holy writings. Yes, the benchmark is love itself, or that's rather what I use to compass the deep waters of scripture

    (Deep, so very deep .... Tied to the bottom with a noose round thy feet).

    It's easy to drown yourself in the writ, and essentially lose the God given life God blessed each of us with (In the now).

    GK
     
  17. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    I agree ....

    There is a huge problem with defining love. I'm of the mind that if it is selfish, it is not love at all, but lust. I think many view love to be a mere emotion, but that's not it either. Love (For me) is living in a manner that is honest, and beneficial to others.

    Love is not only action, but a way of life. We do for others when we can, and resist living through selfish motives. Some might suggest that this is impossible ... I disagree, we ultimately choose how we live and what we learn to value most.

    Once we value God, Who is Love (Or rather the Spirit of) above ourselves, we no longer act through selfish motives, but through God's Spirit. Sure, there are benfits (Rewards) for doing so, but that does not make our motives selfish .... Particularly when others are benefiting from our 'chosen' lifestyles.

    "Not my will, but thy will be done" Sums up the way of Christ [IMO]. I'm a firm believer that God's only desire for us is to live through His Spirit of love, serving one another, and being good stewards over His creation.

    GK
     
  18. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    I suppose then "Love" is a choice, a decision, despite or inspite of how one feels...
     
  19. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    There are different types of love, Q. The romantic type gives us warm fuzzies, and can be quite unexpected, while agape is more of a decision to care even about the well being of our enemies. Then there is the brotherly type we have for our close friends and families. I do however believe that "love" in any form is not "love" unless there is some type of voluntary action involved. What good is a feeling if those we have feelings for never know?

    Seems pointless to me ....

    GK
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I think this touches the whole point: I think Scripture actually defines love quite well.

    Not what people think, however, so they tend to discreetly ignore/reject it.

    Thomas
     

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