After a thoroughly Biblical explanation and interpretation of a Bible passage, I had the audacity to say, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t agree …”
What came next was a series of back and forth posts that felt like going twelve rounds. Then a few months later, some random person showed up to pick up where the last battle had left off.
It really surprised me to see how different our perspectives were. I get their logic: “The Bible is God’s Word. Do what he says.” Left jab.
But as you already know, I’ve studded enough to know just how suspect the English translation is. What was originally written was God’s Word. What we have is not what was written two thousand years ago. Block.
That’s when they bring up “all scripture is God-inspired, etc.” Which explains away everything. Right Hook. Unless it wasn’t written until a half-decade after the passage in question. Block.
“If you love me, keep my commands.” That means that if you aren’t keeping his commands, then you don’t love God. The old one-two. All the Pharisees did was keep God’s commands. God said that their lips worshiped him, but their hearts were far from him. My heart isn’t in rule-keeping, but yeah, I love God. The bell – go to neutral corners.
Sometimes they go with “we have lots of fragments of the original text, what we have is pretty close to the original.” Ignoring my concerns about the English altogether. Look, the vast majority of the Bible is pretty close, but we’re talking about one of the few sections that had content from the margins written into the verse a few centuries after the fact and just before it was officially closed as cannon. We’re talking about one of the few sections that translators chose words that had multiple meanings that change the interpretation that they missed altogether.
I just don’t know why it feels like a boxing match or some sort of battle when dealing with fellow Christians. Some just wear me out with the same points over and over again. But in months and months of this sort of altercation, nothing has changed my mind to their way of thinking. I think now I get why there’s a verse about ‘not quarreling over disputable matters’ nobody ever truly wins.
Jesus disagreed and wasn’t a heretic. I disagree and I apparently am. Jesus constantly called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and we love him for it. I call fellow Christians out on interpretations and a few of them attack my character. Some have said that I’m afraid, that I just don’t get it, that God doesn’t like it when people mess with his word and he just might cause some sickness to teach me a lesson. When you stop arguing the point of Scripture and start attacking the person you’re debating for being bitter or unintelligent, you have already lost.
Christians – brothers and sisters in our common faith – that’s why I blog like this. Some of you, don’t know how to get along with members of your own family. You’re not going to attract new believers who have the same questions to come and join us. The Bible says that we have to be ready to give an answer for our faith. That means being prepared to answer the crucial questions. Sometimes we only have one chance to get it right.
I just read this blog entry from a girl who was born and raised Christian. She went to a summer camp and asked a question about what God thinks when a person sins against another. The answer from a pastor was that God was sad about the sinner. He didn’t consider the victim or the possibility that the girl was the victim in question. She doesn’t believe in God now. I once knew a young man who committed suicide a few years after I had told him that “God is like a loving father.” Sometimes I feel like I let him down but ultimately I can learn from what happened. Now my priority is to listen and to discern what they’re really asking before I give my answer.
There are a great many atheists that are more well-read on the Bible, it’s history, it’s translation, it’s compilation, it’s context, and the findings of the secular scholars that study the Bible than most Christians are. If we can’t handle each other’s doubts, I’m afraid we will have no answer for them.