I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I hardly quote Scripture on this blog. And now I’ll tell you why.
I typically shy way from this in light of how Scripture is used these days: as a weapon. We even call it a sword, and we certainly swing it to cut other people down. As I child I was trained to be an expert in proof-texting and taking things WAY out of context. It’s my knee jerk reaction to use the Bible to prove a point or slam truth down on the table. But really this fails to do justice to the deep and shattering truth we so strongly clutch. Scripture should be used to build up, however it is so frequently used to chop down. If I were to quote the Bible more – it would be for my purposes – and not for Scripture’s.
The Bible is often used disingenuously. We demand it is given the utmost respect, even higher than the American flag that we ceremonially burn when it’s retired, yet we manipulate it and twist it and abuse it like it works forus. I’ve seen the Bible used to justify all sorts of things – the least of which is love.
You want to know just how liberal I am? I don’t know what to make of the Bible – it’s far too complex a work to encapsulate it with terms like infallible and inerrant. It’s beyond quick classification for me. It’s a book spanning thousands of years with dozens of authors, many we know nothing about, that cuts across various regions, cultures and languages. What label do you throw on that?! I think when we throw such labels upon it, though seemingly lifting it up to a status just below God, we are actually betraying a profoundly beautiful and complex work that’s survived for thousands of years because of it’s power.
There are parts of the Bible I can’t even begin to understand, there are parts that seem to totally contradict my understanding of God and then there are parts that give me the shivers (the good kind). I think the reason I am following Jesus today is because a passage of Scripture struck a deep chord with my heart that finally allowed me to be genuinely interested in Jesus rather than simply using him for a ticket to heaven. So I don’t quote the Bible because I’ve thrown it out.
When I look at the Bible I see a sacred book. I see a recording, a history, of people grappling and struggling with God and screwing up every inch along the way (as they should, when you consider fumbling-in-the-dark-man and Holy-and-Perfect-God). I see a volume tracking the movements of God on this planet – not off in someone other dimension but here – in our midst. And when we focus on the ways in which God was here (and they are always good to remember) we can actually lose track of the ways God continues to move here. And that would be a shame.
Do you have a label for the Bible? If so, why? Do you agree it gets used and abused? What can we do to treat the Bible with more respect?