The Bible isn’t Biblical

A link from the WordPress dashboard took me to one of the many post-Christian, de-conversion blogs. I didn’t realise that’s where I was heading when I clicked on the link, but I find it interesting to understand better the loss of faith. Most of the people I deal with daily are of the never-had-faith type.

I think we all go through the dark night of the soul. Different people deal with it in different ways. Unlike well-meaning commenters on these blogs, I have no interest in Bible proof-texting them back to faith. In fact, I find most of these well-meaning attempts using an approach that has been directly rejected by the de-converting or de-converted.

I certainly haven’t seen lots of these blogs, so I don’t presume that the crisis of faith comes to each person in the same way. However, the ones I have seen seem to have a similar background. I have see ex-Catholics mostly describing their disaffection with things that’s aren’t actually Catholic dogma. However, most of the deconversion seems to be from Evangelicalism. The former evangelicals are sometimes pastors or other sorts of leaders. They are well-versed in the Scriptures.

Herein seems to lie the problem. They find internal inconsistencies – or have long been aware of what appear to be internal inconsistencies – in the Scriptures and finally admit that in their Protestant paradigm if the Bible fails everything fails. This exposes a weakness, not in Christianity, but in that Protestant paradigm.

The further a group eschews the Holy Tradition the more it has to adopt a sola scriptura approach. This means that the Word of God is exactly what the text says and the key to the Truth is in finding exactly what the text says. God specifically spoke certain words in Hebrew or Greek and we have to find out exactly which words He used.

Then He put them all together in One Big Book. Now it’s like a giant jigsaw and the work of the biblical scholar is to fit all of the pieces together so that there is a single internal consistency. That’s not to say that there is any consistency in the scholars – otherwise we wouldn’t have the vast discrepancies in commentaries, surveys, handbooks, and other reference materials that span the Protestant theological gamut.

The only problem is the the One Big Book view of the Bible isn’t biblical. The closest thing to a collective reference is Jesus’ reference to the Law and the Prophets. This does not refer to the whole Old Testament, as He makes no reference to the Writings (Ketuvim). References in different biblical sources to “the Word of God” do not somehow look ahead to 66 writings eventually recognised as canonical by Protestants, the 74 recognised by Rome, or even the 77 recognised by Orthodoxy.

Long before I was Orthodox, I realised that using verses like Proverbs 30:5-6 or Revelation 22:18-19 to refer to the unified Bible was completely non-contextual. That would somehow suppose that the Church did not have the full Truth before an agreement was reached over time about even the New Testament canon.

This does not mean that the Bible isn’t inspired by God. The Church, being led by the Holy Spirit, recognised those writings which have been specially inspired by the Holy Spirit. But this is why I don’t have a problem with Protestant Bibles. They may lack 11 writings used by Jesus and the early Church, but what they have is inspired.

As a quick aside. . . It’s not that the Protestant Bible has lacked these writings for a long time. Stories vary slightly as to when they were commonly removed – from just after the American Revolution to the 1820’s – but it seems to be universally agreed that the reason was to save printing costs. Because Protestants refer to them as the Apocrypha, put them in a separate group and sadly, as they were not read often, no one seemed to miss them. It is only post-Revolutionary homegrown American denominations and their progeny that completely rejected them.

But back to my point. . . Once you remove the One Big Book view, it doesn’t matter that there are different ways of saying things, or even times when the individual books say different things. Each book is a way of God telling us things, but God is bigger than all the writings.

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8 Responses to “The Bible isn’t Biblical”

  1. Michael Says:

    I wonder how much of the problem is with sola scriptura and how much is with Scholasticism. I’m a Protestant, and I hold a form of sola scriptura, but my style of biblical reasoning has become increasingly non-scholasticist and (probably part of the same thing) I have a fairly high tolerance for ambiguity and paradox.

  2. sol Says:

    There is probably a significant contribution to the problem from Scholasticism. I think Alistair McGrath is right in seeing the intellectual origins of the Protestant Reformation in Scholasticism.

  3. Michael Says:

    That interests me. Where did McGrath say that? That goes along with some of my developing theories.

    May I point out that Jesus refers to the “Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms” in Luke 24:44.

  4. sol Says:

    The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation. I don’t think McGrath sees it as the sole factor, but certainly a significant factor.

    And thanks for pointing that out.

  5. barrett Says:

    I’ve read a fair number of deconversion blogs and I think you’re correct that most of them are written from the standpoint of Evangelicism or Catholicism. I can’t recall any off hand that describe a deconversion from Orthodoxy.

  6. roopster Says:

    SH,

    Do you believe that writings from other religions can be “god inspired” or just the ones in the Jewish/Catholic/Protestant Bible?

    Paul

  7. sol Says:

    I believe that there are truths in some of the sacred texts of other religions. In that God is the source of truth, on a certain level you could say that they are inspired.

    That being said, I believe the Church was led by the Holy Spirit to accept certain texts as specifically given by God to the Church. As the Church splintered, some of those splinter groups have rejected the inspiration of a few of the texts. In that the writings of other religions are not given for the edification of the Church, they do not lead us to Christ and therefore have no salvific value.

  8. eanes Says:

    That’s a very interesting post. It’s often something I’ve thought and wondered about. Well said.


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