Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Scripture Part Duh

Ok….I am back, for those who are asking if I am alive….I am. I just needed to recharge for a bit.

I want to continue with the hard questions here about the scripture. My goal here is to encourage the faith in us and to learn about it. Often, people try to argue others over, step-by-step, from their position to ours. But I find that asking someone to come over and see things from my point of view, just to see how it all fits together for me, often builds understanding much better. So I want to invite you with me to take a disciple's perspective on some of our hard questions about the Bible.

When you boil down most people's problem with the Bible it comes down to the matter
of human touch. The fact that the book was written by humans seems suspicious in itself.
Because these humans have their own viewpoints and limitations we conclude that the
Bible is full of biases and ignorance. And there were so many hands involved in writing
the book, putting the canon together, and transmitting the text to us, that it just seems
fishier the more we hear. And the truth is that there do seem to be some inconsistencies between some of the different authors and accounts, and there are some verses where it is hard just to establish what the original text is.

Outsiders look at all this earthy, historical, and human nature that we see in the Bible and
they scoff at the idea that it could be a divinely inspired text. And we Christians buy it. I
think most Christians, too, would rather have one unified dictation, a monolithic word from God. We would rather have something like what the Koran and the book of Mormon claim to be -- a single stream of dictation from God. That would make it feel much more divine, if it came in one vision to one person - if it had less human fingerprints on it.

But I want to suggest a different picture to you, a new model of what is going on. I want to show you a perspective that I have found as a disciple; one that makes the Bible look much more trustworthy than the skeptics would say, and much more wonderful than the dictation that we might wish it to be.

I'd like you to consider a patchwork quilt that has been in a family for generations. You might take a look at one of these quilts and say that it is pretty, but it becomes more wonderful by far when you know its story. As with any real patchwork quilt, each patch tells a story. To anyone who sees and knows, these quilts have many stories to tell. It's a part of their unique beauty, that they hold so much history.

This is a part of the Bible's beauty also. The Bible is full of stories, and histories, and songs, and letters. Each one tells a story of God working with some new generation of people. This huge collection of “patches” shows us a God who delights in having people with him. He doesn't want to avoid contact with humans. The whole huge patchwork quilt of his word shows him constantly working to bring his human children along with him in life. The stories here do not point to a God who would just want to dictate some words to as few messengers as possible. This is a God who loves to have his children gather around him and learn his words. It's a God who longs to be in relationship with all his human children. This is part of the richness that all these patches bring.

But even more than the stories that the different patches tell, the process of how the Bible was put together shows God's purpose even more clearly. God could have just printed all his stories on one big piece of patterned cloth. He could have just produced one novel. But he chose to put the Bible together like this quilt.

Seeing the Bible this way, we can see that not only are the individual stories or "patches" about God calling people to him. Even the way the stories are told, preserved, and transmitted to future generations show us God's purpose. His purpose is to come to his human children to help them participate in his own life and mission. He wants them to see things his way -- and grow to where their words can be his words. And so he brings them along with him in creating this Bible, this treasury of stories about God and his people, so his people can use them and hold onto them and give them to the next generation. At every level, wherever we look, God is working on the same thing. He is working to share his life with us, that we may participate in his life and his work in this world.


Lexi said...

Beautifully written.

kenny said...

wonderful. Having just talked to my brother who is struggling to get through the book "blue like jazz", who studied Religious studies at U of W and seriously questions my desire to know God better...this was a good read. It gives a much needed different approach. I like it. I like the fact that the Bible is written by many authors. With different flavours and techniques, yet really saying the same things.
Welcome back after your break. BTW...bad friday...that was huge!