I have a tendency to walk where angels fear to tread! So I am going to open up a can of worms that will get some out there in cyberspace so upset they may never visit this site again……but I am going to take that risk. Here’s why; we should know why we believe the way that we do, and if you believe something because that is what you have been told all of your life, I challenge you to be open to new ideas for a moment, if only for the sake of discussion.
Talk to 5 people and you will get 5 varying opinions on any given subject. The “church” world is no different. Some people will tell you that the entire Bible start to finish is fact; every word is fact, God breathed truth on each and every page. Others will tell you that the Bible is a book of allegory; stories that never really happened designed to teach.
I remember one day a long while back when my kids were young and I was a member of a group of homeschooling moms. Homeschool families choose to homeschool for a number of different reasons, but many do for religious reasons. Well, on that particular day the mommies were preparing a snack for the little ones and we got on the subject of creation. (One of many reasons some choose to homeschool!) A mommy in the group had read a controversy on creation occurring in 7 – 24 hour days vs the 7 day theory being representative of the stages of creation, or whatever. The discussion became quite heated. You would have thought the entire existence of mankind hinged on the outcome of that discussion!
Several decided they could not associate with anyone who bought into any theory other than the Biblical narrative in Genesis. The Bible was NOT allegorical, some demanded, it was FACT. My momma didn’t raise no fools, so I chose to keep my mouth shut and listen. Wisdom dictates that God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk! Others said they could consider that as long as God was at the center of creation and not some “big bang”theory (not the television series!), they would concede the 7 days may not be literal. Eyes widened, chests puffed out, voices got louder. Future gatherings of our group would be forever tainted by “the creation discussion”.
Humans have opinions and love to share those opinions. Our God-given intellect affords us the opportunity to come up with our own ideas. As long as we don’t open our mouths we are usually ok to have those ideas and maintain friendships!
The Bible authors and the church at large had and have opinions, too. It is my personal belief that the Bible is both fact and allegory. I am an avid reader, and do like to keep an open mind as much as possible. There are historical writings out there describing the existing culture and events of Biblical times prior to Yeshua (Jesus) walking the earth and following His crucifixion. Based upon archaeological finds and writings that corroborate the culture at any given time in history, historians can draw conclusions that paint a fairly accurate picture.
The essence of the Bible message is God breathed. I believe that. God has watched over His message so that generations can hear and choose to believe or not. God works through people, His creation, and we are woefully human, fallible and flawed. He knows that. The Bible is a compilation of writings by many different writers through the centuries; some written at the time of the event, and other events written years after the fact. Much of what is written began as oral history passed from generation to generation. We have all played “telephone” as children so we know the end message is not the same as the original message.
Scribes, those who transcribed the written words at various times in history, have occasionally added personal opinion, or popular/accepted practice at the time of the writing. Fun fact: it is widely believed that William Shakespeare was one of the translators of the King James Bible and left evidence in Psalm 46. Do you think Yeshua really spoke with all the “thee’s and thou’s” ?
Many find the Bible to be contradictory in places, and I have found that as well. Bible historians and professors of ancient history have noted that many of the Bible authors added their personal opinions resulting in the contradictions; but the central message remains the same. God is, was and ever will be, and loves each of us to the point that He sent His only Son to us clothed in the flesh of humanity to experience life from our perspective, and then sacrifice Himself for all mankind for all eternity.
Let us remember, too, that the common folk were not literate, did not attend school, and had only those in positions of authority to interpret oral history, The Law, and the writings. Mankind, if you haven’t noticed already, can be power hungry, and will find ways to exploit others for personal gain. Many in authority have done just that, and so many of our accepted thoughts, practices, etc are a result of interpretations and exploitation that we now consider God breathed, and their intent was to control the masses.
Remember I said that I walk where angels fear to tread? I don’t recommend it; it doesn’t aid you in making or keeping friends!! But on occasion I have asked people, staunch in their belief system, why they believe what they do. The answer invariably is that is what they learned as a child, whether at the feet of their families, in the church, or both, and they believe it without question. I don’t have a problem with that in the least; I would, however, challenge you to find out why you believe what you do. Establish your own, personal relationship with God; not the God someone else told you about.