This morning I had a wonderful person from our spiritual community tell me that they don’t read their Bible anymore because they feel like so much of it has been debunked. Honestly, I felt sort of bad about that.
Yes, it is the goal of my preaching, our adult classes and our women’s group to share scholarship, theologies and ideas that are not typically taught in mainline Christianity. But this has never been done with the intent of turning someone off to the Scriptures. My/our intent has been to show that there is so much more depth to the scriptures than anyone has ever dared to tell us. Dominant Christian theology, designed and propagated by educated, white men, has basically given us one perspective for so long that most people believe that there is only one perspective (or only one right perspective).
I suppose it feels like the Bible is being debunked, but I think it is really what we’ve been taught about the Bible that is being debunked. We’re taking the Bible seriously, examining different perspectives, historical situations, archeological information, cultural traditions and myths and then asking, “Alrighty then, what does this mean for us today?” I may be a little odd, but I find it exciting and liberating.
So, I’m encouraging you not to give up on your Bible, but to let your understanding of the Bible evolve. Let the literary nuances come alive. Think about who the stories were written for and why. Sprinkle your understanding with cross-references to other religious texts (remember Buddhism and Hinduism were around long before Christianity) and other Christian writings that didn’t make the cut into the canon. Remember that nothing was recorded verbatim as it happened, but was most likely written down years, if not decades, later. And put yourself in the cultural mindset that understood that scripture and fact (as we understand it) were not synonymous. Hopefully you will find (as I do) that the text becomes richer, the characters become more real and your understanding broadens.