Wednesday, March 4, 2015

God's Skeletons II

I have been warned many times from the pulpit to beware of new interpretations of the Bible or interpretations that go against common wisdom. But what is common wisdom? Much of what passes for pulpit wisdom regarding the Bible is based on the instruction that preachers were given in their seminary courses. Oftentimes lore handed down from teacher to student across the centuries and repeated in rote without careful and considered thought and investigation.

People like to quote scripture out of context and claim that their interpretation depicts God's truth or God's promises. They also like to quote scriptures taken from allegory or apocalyptic symbolism as literal truths. All of this can so easily lead to misinterpretation of what the Bible says. Yet this is a very dangerous thing to do and the risks are high that scripture will be misapplied. In
such cases God and Jesus become caricatures of who they really are and people rightly turn away from such fare.

Time and time again I have come across respected Bible scholars who fall into this trap and make strong claims about what scripture states. With a little bit of thought, a little bit of reasoning, and with an unbiased agenda, it is not difficult to see that they are (or could be) misinterpreting what is written or misapplying what is stated. If you would like to read a carefully considered and reasoned approach to what the Bible does say and what is doesn't, I highly recommend the book The Skeleton's in God's Closet (subtitled The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War) by Joshua Ryan Butler. This is not the usual Christian-lite pablum churned out for a quick profit by some well-coiffed mega-church preacher. In fact, I would bet that after reading this book, even if you don't agree with all of his conclusions, you will come away at least realizing that when we suspect that God's approach is unfair, heavy-handed, or unreasonable, the problem most likely is not with God, but with our understanding of the situation and our understanding of God.

(Part 2 of 2)