It has been fascinating reading the comments you are writing on the posts I’ve made about Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty debacle. I love reading all the different perspectives, yes, even the ones I don’t agree with. But I have seen a recurring theme among many of the comments as well as other articles I am reading, whether they are from Christians or non-Christians – and it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
We play dangerous games when it comes to Christianity. In my view, there are two main games we play that are both destructive and damning. One: we add things to the Bible. Two: we take things away from the Bible.
Whether by falling into one category or both, when we decide to pervert the Bible with our own interpretations, however well-meaning, we are playing with eternal Hell-fire, no pun intended.
What am I talking about, exactly? Let’s break this down.
The Danger of Addition
We’ll start with the category of adding things to the Bible. There are lots of religions out there (of which I will not name here for the simple reason that I don’t have time to list them all) that add things to the Bible. They claim things like, “yes, the Bible is true. So is this (insert random religious text or philosophy here).” Their extra-biblical documents serve as “clarification” for the things of the Bible that are difficult to describe or understand on their own. They are authored by men (as is every book in history except the Bible) and often contemporary writings (by contemporary I mean from the last few centuries). It is from these groups that most of the world’s cults appear. However, you don’t have to be of a cult to add things to the Bible and claim them to be true.
The danger in adding anything to the Bible is that you suddenly blur the lines of Truth. When do you stop? If there are truths that “pair well” with the Bible based on your own opinion, why don’t other “truths” pair with the Bible in my opinion? Why is your opinion higher than mine? Let’s say you’re a scholar. Does that make your opinion higher than mine? Let’s say you’re a very devout, religious person. Does that make your opinion higher than mine? Or higher than someone else’s? Where does it stop? And who’s to say who is right?
The thing about God is that, well, He is GOD. He gets to decide what Truth is. Not me. Not you. Not anyone well “learned” in any specific subject. Because if Truth is up to humans, then there is no such thing as Truth for it is subjective to passing whims, trends, and ideas over the millennia. Truth is either infallible, or it isn’t truth. Therefore ANYTHING outside of the Bible that is paraded as “just as true” as the Bible, is indeed NOT.
The Danger of Subtraction
The other category is of those who would take things away from the Bible. These are the folks who would say that we don’t really know what certain passages mean, or that certain passages are just metaphorical, or that much of the Bible is just folk stories that didn’t really happen. The danger here is similar to the danger of adding things to the Bible. Who am I to say what’s true and what’s not? Sure, I’m a person of intellect. I can read the book of Jonah and come to the conclusion that it seems highly improbable that a man was swallowed by a fish and lived to tell the tale. But who am I to say that it DIDN’T happen either? I wasn’t there. Neither were you. And why couldn’t it have happened? After all, if the God who CREATED THE UNIVERSE wanted me to hang out in the belly of a giant fish for a while to learn my lesson, I’m pretty sure He could get me out alive, too.
Aside from the fact that using the Huffington Post as your authority on the Bible makes about as much sense as using a high school student’s 300 word paper on rocket science as your authority on the science, I decided to click and read.
The danger in cherry-picking what’s true in the Bible is that you fall down a slippery slope where the Bible means one thing to this group and another to that group. The Bible stops being absolute Truth and starts being an ancient self help book that is about as trustworthy to stand on for your life’s problems as Swiss cheese.
Here’s case and point. I read something the other day by a well-meaning friend who was pointing out that we don’t “really know what the Bible means when it talks about [subject intentionally removed†].” This person then provided a link to a Huffington Post article entitled, “What Does the Bible Really Say About [subject intentionally removed]?” Aside from the fact that using the Huffington Post as your authority on the Bible makes about as much sense as using a high school student’s 300 word paper on rocket science as your authority on the science, I decided to click and read. The article cited all of the scriptures on the subject, both Old and New Testament, most of which say things blatant like “IT IS AN ABOMINATION.” Their conclusion? Well, we don’t know if that’s what they REALLY meant.
Really? This is your earth-shattering conclusion about a difficult topic in the Bible? We don’t REALLY know what they meant?
I don’t know about you, but I would not want to bet my eternity on a twenty-first century’s online editorial about the possible nuances of Biblical sentence structure. Seems like a losing proposition.
The Bible, The Whole Bible, and Nothing But the Bible
As for me, I don’t have time to wonder what’s true and what’s not in the Bible. It’s either ALL TRUE, or ALL CRAZY. That’s really the only scenario that makes sense to me. And I don’t want to hear the argument that it’s all in “how you interpret it.” There is no difficulty in interpreting, “[Insert Biblically-cited sin] is an abomination.”
It would seem to me that the only reason to pick and choose what is true in the Bible is to justify our own sins. And it may even be as simple as just choosing to ignore certain parts of the Bible as opposed to redefining them. I know several pastors who were in the depths of an affair still preaching the Word. Did they say that the Bible doesn’t say adultery is sin? Oh no, they instead justified their actions by saying that they were really in love with their mistresses, but not with their wives.
So that makes it all ok, right?
Wrong. I’m not going to pretend to be intellectually on-par with a being who created the universe and orchestrated divine intricacies like photosynthesis and the miracle of conception by saying I know when He was just being metaphorical. Or ironic. Or sentimental. I’m going to play it safe (smart, rather) and assume He meant every word He said. Either that or I’m going to assume He meant none of it. Otherwise, I’m not doing myself or anyone else any favors by claiming to have correctly interpreted the subtle and subversive nuances of the Almighty God. I’ll leave that up to Him.
†If you’re wondering why I removed the subject of discussion, I wanted to make sure this post sticks to the intended purpose: a discussion of Biblical interpretation. I did not want to chase rabbits of the nuances of specific topics of the Bible. (At least not on this post.)