The Bible - all or nothing?
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08-12-2013, 11:28 AM
The Bible - all or nothing?
I'm aware of the arguments against Christians "cherry picking" the Bible, only following the stuff they like, the argument that God is evil because of his Old Testament actions, taking the Bible literally, etc.

Now, I'm not quite sure where I stand religiously, but as of now I still like to identify as Christian, and I still enjoy the New Testament.

The problem with the arguments that I mentioned is that the Bible is just a book. Yeah, I get it, it's the "holy book," but in actuality, it's just a book. A piece of literature meant to be read and analyzed, like any other book. Now, let's say that you and your friend love analyzing literature. Symbolism, analogies, metaphors, you eat it all up! So you and your friend decide to read "Grapes of Wrath" together. After you both finish it, you meet up to discuss all the literary devices and overall symbolism. But you two have differing opinions on what certain things mean, things that stand for something else in the time period, things that are literal and shouldn't mean anything, etc. to the point where you both vehemently disagree with each other's entire interpretations of the novel.

Well, the exact same thing is happening with the Bible. I don't think the majority, if any, of the Old Testament actually happened. I think it's all just a story. But so many people argue that God is evil because of the fictional stories told in the Old Testament. I'm also told that I can't enjoy the New Testament and believe the lot of it and also deny the truth of the Old Testament. Why is this so? We just have differing interpretations of the novel, is all.

Now, do I think Jesus actually walked on water and turned it into wine (not at the same time.)? I don't know. But I firmly believe in what Jesus taught and I think that's what Christianity's real purpose is; to spread what he said. Call me a Red-Letter Christian if you will.

My point is: why does the Bible have to be taken literally? Why can't I think some things were meant to be literal and some things were just stories?
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08-12-2013, 11:45 AM
RE: The Bible - all or nothing?
Cool.

So under whose authority do you reject the literalness of the bits you want to treat as metaphor?

For example, why do you reject the 10 Commandments?

Is the Sermon on the Mount OK except for the bits that were copied from Psalms?

If the Jesus stuff is OK, is it fine and dandy that I should abandon my wife and children, leave my dead parents unburied and give no thought for tomorrow?

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08-12-2013, 11:47 AM
RE: The Bible - all or nothing?
(08-12-2013 11:45 AM)DLJ Wrote:  Cool.

So under whose authority do you reject the literalness of the bits you want to treat as metaphor?

For example, why do you reject the 10 Commandments?

Is the Sermon on the Mount OK except for the bits that were copied from Psalms?

If the Jesus stuff is OK, is it fine and dandy that I should abandon my wife and children, leave my dead parents unburied and give no thought for tomorrow?

Or are you really saying that you like Paul's Taoist re-invention of Jesus?

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08-12-2013, 11:49 AM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2013 11:59 AM by childeye.)
RE: The Bible - all or nothing?
(08-12-2013 11:28 AM)Fat Mac Wrote:  I'm aware of the arguments against Christians "cherry picking" the Bible, only following the stuff they like, the argument that God is evil because of his Old Testament actions, taking the Bible literally, etc.

Now, I'm not quite sure where I stand religiously, but as of now I still like to identify as Christian, and I still enjoy the New Testament.

The problem with the arguments that I mentioned is that the Bible is just a book. Yeah, I get it, it's the "holy book," but in actuality, it's just a book. A piece of literature meant to be read and analyzed, like any other book. Now, let's say that you and your friend love analyzing literature. Symbolism, analogies, metaphors, you eat it all up! So you and your friend decide to read "Grapes of Wrath" together. After you both finish it, you meet up to discuss all the literary devices and overall symbolism. But you two have differing opinions on what certain things mean, things that stand for something else in the time period, things that are literal and shouldn't mean anything, etc. to the point where you both vehemently disagree with each other's entire interpretations of the novel.

Well, the exact same thing is happening with the Bible. I don't think the majority, if any, of the Old Testament actually happened. I think it's all just a story. But so many people argue that God is evil because of the fictional stories told in the Old Testament. I'm also told that I can't enjoy the New Testament and believe the lot of it and also deny the truth of the Old Testament. Why is this so? We just have differing interpretations of the novel, is all.

Now, do I think Jesus actually walked on water and turned it into wine (not at the same time.)? I don't know. But I firmly believe in what Jesus taught and I think that's what Christianity's real purpose is; to spread what he said. Call me a Red-Letter Christian if you will.

My point is: why does the Bible have to be taken literally? Why can't I think some things were meant to be literal and some things were just stories?
I don't know whether Jesus walked on water or not. It seems a useful metaphor to me about doing the impossible. I'm just being honest. But I do know that there is deep wisdom and meaning in the scriptures. Frankly speaking, mind blowing. I also know that no one can uncover it's secrets without a pure heart. Therefore it was designed to repel the proud. I've never seen any other writings do that. It is definitely remarkable that the Old Testament scriptures say they exist to foretell of the coming of the Christ and the New Testament and that this prophecy came to pass just as foretold.

Sometimes people say to me, do you think the bible is without error. I respond by saying that I don't even understand it all to be able to say. I think it is wrong to call it the Word of God since that can be misleading. People then use it to say this is what God wants be cause the bible says so. It happens on this forum all the time. The bible its self does not speak of the Word being anything but Spirit in the purest sense. I see the Word in countless movies, books, songs, paintings, etc...Therefore I would say the bible is a testimony to the Word and even according to it's own description, that is why the Word says." Go look in your precious scriptures in where you think you have eternal life, for they all testify to me."
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08-12-2013, 11:52 AM
RE: The Bible - all or nothing?
(08-12-2013 11:45 AM)DLJ Wrote:  So under whose authority do you reject the literalness of the bits you want to treat as metaphor?

My own.

Quote:For example, why do you reject the 10 Commandments?

I think the authors of the Old Testament thought, "Yeah these are nice rules, they'll work." The Ten Commandments are common sense, and they're still missing a few things. (Example: it's quite uncool to rape, where's the eleventh commandment saying that?)

Quote:Is the Sermon on the Mount OK except for the bits that were copied from Psalms?

Interesting the way you worded that. It's not exactly "copied", though very similar. I don't think its similarity indicates that I should ignore it. It's just similar.
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08-12-2013, 12:11 PM
RE: The Bible - all or nothing?
(08-12-2013 11:28 AM)Fat Mac Wrote:  ... why does the Bible have to be taken literally?

It doesn't and it shouldn't be; it is, as you say, a book like any other. Poorly written, in my opinion... by way too many authors all contributing their personal agendas.

There are some who feel it should be taken literally. Those people would tell me and you, whom we can and can not do business with, or even marry because of what it says in this book, which you and I think is just a book. What we see as literature is seen by some as law.

(08-12-2013 11:28 AM)Fat Mac Wrote:  Why can't I think some things were meant to be literal and some things were just stories?


Uh, well... if you mean "some things were meant to be literal" and should be put into practice by governments to control the goings on of people... surely you see the issue there.

If I say, "that is just a story" while you say, "no that is the law"...

I know I wouldn't be able to tap dance fast enough for just such a whim.
Nor would you. Drinking Beverage

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08-12-2013, 12:16 PM
RE: The Bible - all or nothing?
(08-12-2013 12:11 PM)kim Wrote:  
(08-12-2013 11:28 AM)Fat Mac Wrote:  ... why does the Bible have to be taken literally?

It doesn't and it shouldn't be; it is, as you say, a book like any other. Poorly written, in my opinion... by way too many authors all contributing their personal agendas.

There are some who feel it should be taken literally. Those people would tell me and you, whom we can and can not do business with, or even marry because of what it says in this book, which you and I think is just a book. What we see as literature is seen by some as law.

Yes, these people exist. But the best part is, that they can exist, because it's a book that allows for multiple interpretations. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I'm glad that they can form their own opinion on the book.

Quote:Uh, well... if you mean "some things were meant to be literal" and should be put into practice by governments to control the goings on of people... surely you see the issue there.

I am aware of this issue, and regardless of your interpretation of the Bible, religion and political legislation should never intertwine.
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08-12-2013, 12:30 PM
RE: The Bible - all or nothing?
(08-12-2013 11:28 AM)Fat Mac Wrote:  why does the Bible have to be taken literally? Why can't I think some things were meant to be literal and some things were just stories?


Then there is no way to tell which ones are reliable without simply using one's "gut-feelings." Why would an omniscient being, knowing the weaknesses of his creations mix truth and allegory together without giving any method of differentiating between the two? There are dozens of denominations of Judaism and Christianity. Some people think that certain parts of the Bible are true, and some think that they are figurative language. Some people are literalists, and some people think that every part of the Bible is pure metaphor. With all these interpretations, the plausibility of a hypothetical god's omniscience is brought severely into question, and people like me are forced to come to the conclusion that, with little exception, the Bible is just filled with



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08-12-2013, 12:30 PM
RE: The Bible - all or nothing?
Sure, interpret anyway you like. Just keep in mind the bible along with every other holy text was a reflection of the time it was created. Many many practices, ethics and values have no place in the modern world. That is really up to the reader to determine what is good or bad. The thing is it is not taught like that which is why we have so much problems in the world. I don't mind people believing god but I take great issue at those who tell other people to do so without consent and thinking that belief in god is to be automatically respected.

"I don't have to have faith, I have experience." Joseph Campbell
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08-12-2013, 12:32 PM
RE: The Bible - all or nothing?
(08-12-2013 11:28 AM)Fat Mac Wrote:  Now, do I think Jesus actually walked on water and turned it into wine (not at the same time.)? I don't know. But I firmly believe in what Jesus taught and I think that's what Christianity's real purpose is; to spread what he said. Call me a Red-Letter Christian if you will.

My point is: why does the Bible have to be taken literally? Why can't I think some things were meant to be literal and some things were just stories?
First, some things in the Bible were not meant to be taken literally, as they're labeled as parables, dreams, etc.

That said, the problem you face as a "red-letter" Christian is that Jesus refers to a number of OT events as if they were actual history. To maintain your view, you need to further limit "I firmly believe in what Jesus taught" to something like I firmly believe some of the things that Jesus taught.
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