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Thursday, August 31, 2017

From literal to meaning

I just finished John Shelby Spong's book on liberating the Gospels by viewing them through Jewish eyes. He makes some spectacular points. He, like I, is concerned about the future of Christianity if the message does not get off the literal track, the track that says the Bible is literally the word of God and so has no errors. It's as if some celestial hand reached down to earth and wrote the words on something or other, even before there was anything was written in that part of the world. Which, of course, is nonsense. Thinking people are getting turned off to this way of understanding.

Besides that, a book cannot contain the Infinite. Words can point the direction. We must walk The Way and find God in our lives.

There are so many contradictions in the Bible that anyone reading it would immediately understand it could not be inerrant. Let's just take one item. When does the New Testament say that Jesus became the son of God? By one account at his baptism, by another writer it was at birth, another writer says from the beginning of time and another says after the resurrection he became the adopted son of God. Since we know that all of these cannot be accurate, we know the Bible is not literal and not inerrant. There are a huge number of these contradictions throughout.

If we realize that these people were story tellers, weavers of myths, non-linear people, we could start searching for the meaning encoded in the stories that actually can inform us spiritually and inspire us and lead us to a deeper walk with God.

The journey the Bible takes us on is the faith story of a people. It tries to show with stories the incredible spiritual experiences that cannot fit into usual words. It has deep meaning that is missed when the superficial lockdown of inerrancy and the weight of pretending God wrote it weighs upon it. Humans wrote it trying to explain how it was with them as they walked with God or turned away and took a detour.

I urge you to read modern scholarship of Spong, Borg, Crossan, Eiseman, and others and discover a vast frontier of deep spirituality. Let's set Christianity on a path for longevity by freeing it from the limited views forced upon it.

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