(Note: This is an introductory article to a series which I am entitling “The Good Book”. At the risk of offending those who cherish their Christian faith, I am compelled to offer my thoughts as to biblical teachings. It is not my intent to hurt, but rather to enlighten. May these articles be evaluated with the same scrutiny to which I expose the Bible. Dave)
Oftentimes I hear the Bible referenced as “the good book”. Having referenced it thusly myself for many years, I can relate to the perspective. Having reasoned my way from faith to skepticism, I simply can no longer relate to the practice of referencing the Bible as “the good book”..
As to how I reasoned my way from faith to skepticism:
After years of professing Christianity, a few years ago I decided to put my faith to the test. I made the decision to study the Bible as I never had before. I chose to read the Bible from the perspective of critical analysis instead of viewing select passages through the prism of christian faith. I opted to acknowledge the demerits of any act which I deemed unethical or immoral; regardless of the offendant. In essence, I began to read the Bible just as I would read any other book which claims to record historic events. Although I had thought myself an unbiased Bible student, it did not take long for my newly exercised hermeneutic to take effect. Frankly, the result was a completely altered perspective as to the nature of the Bible.
As to the Bible being “the good book”:
Unfortunately, in so many ways the Bible is anything but a good book. Oh, there are some wise teachings in certain texts. Yet most biblical “morality” is based on fear or reward. There is very little in the way of encouragement to develop our natural goodness for no other reason than to be genuinely decent. Behavioral modification in terms of punitive measures or promised reward is about as good as it gets. And frankly; that perspective leaves much to be desired.
On the other hand, there is plenty of bad in the Bible. In fact, there is material that I would classify as bad in both the Old and the New Testaments. The Bible records horrific deeds which would be regarded as perverse, cruel, and tyrannical. And some of those passages cite God himself as the offender!! Indeed, the atrocities recorded in the Christian Scriptures are such that I am lead to conclude that the leading quality of the Bible is its fictitious nature.
For those who are Bible believers, I counsel thusly: Read the Bible. I mean READ the Bible. Read the Bible as you would read any other book. More specifically, read the Bible like any other book which claims to be historical non-fiction.
1. Read the Bible FOR YOURSELF. Do not read the Bible for your father or for your son. Do not read the Bible for your mother or for your daughter. Do not read the Bible for your preacher or for your pastor. Read the Bible as you would read a newspaper or a historical account. Read the Bible for your own benefit.
2. Read the Bible sensibly and logically. Do not assume anything as you read and research. Remember, you have an intellect which is naturally provided in order to guide your thoughts, your actions, and your conclusions; so utilize your intellect as you read the bible, just as you would any other book.
3. Read the Bible with compassion and sensitivity. (WARNING: Graphic atrocities and violence. Animals and innocents harmed, tortured, and killed). In order to contemplate the atrocious deeds depicted within, I suggest that you actually visualize what you are reading. Focus on the deeds and the doer within each specific context. And in so doing ask yourself: If these deeds REALLY occurred, howsoever can the doer be just and the deed be justified?
4. Every person must choose for themselves what is real and what is fantasy, but ultimately there is reality and there are fictitious fantasies. As for the Bible, in the light of its teachings, it would be a shame if the nature of such were the former and not the latter.
To be continued….