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Discussing The Bible With Christians--which Denominations Read The Bible?


R. S. Martin

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I found this on the thread We Don't Exist:

 

For what it's worth, at least Pentecostals (Charismatics, Evangelicals, etc.) know the Bible they believe in better than Baptists

 

Very interesting! So many exChristians say they deconverted when they started reading the Bible. I've always been very confused by that because it sounds like Christians don't read the Bible. Yet the Mennonites read the Bible a LOT. The more liberal or evangelical they are the more they read and study the Bible. That's the impression I got from the community where I spent my life. And believe me, there was little else than Mennonite for twenty miles within where I was born.

 

Wally is saying some denominations read the Bible a lot more than others. We have large numbers of exBaptists on here. I did a survey some time ago and if I remember correctly, exBaptist of some stripe of another made up a large percentage of our numbers, was it about a third? If that is the case, and if Baptists tend not to read the Bible, I guess it stands to reason that a lot of people think reading the Bible automatically leads to deconversion. But not all of us come from the Baptists and some of us come from families and congregations that are well-versed in the Bible.

 

I'm posting this on exChristian Life because I'm thinking: How we argue with Christians depends on how much they know about the Bible. We will need a very different approach with fundies who know the Bible inside out like I did, or who can quote long passages along with chapter and verse like some people can. We will of necessity take a very different approach if we are talking to someone who barely knows whether David or Paul came first, or whether Samson was in the Old or New Testament.

 

I'm not sure how to formulate my question. Any ideas? What kind of discussions have you had with Christians about the Bible or about God or about religion? Or what is a good approach? Is there a way to have a discussion about religion and feel good about it? So often I feel like I "lost" because I knew too much or too little but never the right things or the right amount.....

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I was a Baptist, and I disagree with the statement that they don't read the Bible. We most definitely did and had to memorize quite a bit of it. At my church, we were even quizzed on it. I grew up on the West Coast though, so it's possible that we had a different way of doing things than most Baptist churches. My experience also occurred when I was a teenager, so it's also possible that the youth group just emphasized knowing the Bible a lot more.

 

Knowing the Bible was one of the things that led to my deconversion, actually. My interpretations began to differ from those of the church, and I also argued quite a bit against other Christians that I met in college. Those conflicts helped me to see the flaws.

 

Meaningful discussion about what passages in the Bible mean is another thing entirely. I really only recall being told what those passages meant.

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I found this on the thread We Don't Exist:

 

For what it's worth, at least Pentecostals (Charismatics, Evangelicals, etc.) know the Bible they believe in better than Baptists

because it sounds like Christians don't read the Bible

 

 

They don't. trust me on this. I have brought up *many* of the buybull contradictions to xtians and have eye witnessed them stare in disbelief and scramble for the buybull thinking I am full of it.

 

All he is saying is basically that pentecostals take *more* of the buybull literally then other sects, and they might well do. Look at the snake handlers, they take it soooooo literaly they diliberatly let themselves be bit by snakes IN CHURCH (it's true, look it up) and they also die... hmmm guess they wern't true ™ christians...

 

Some folks as so extreme they believe EVERYTHING no matter what it is in buybull.

 

Xtians play a psychological game. They want to pick what is metaphor and what is literal. If it clashes with their sense of morals, it is metaphor, if it supports, it's literal. I could do this too with any large book, given enough words I could create a *perfect* god written book by choosing which is metaphor and which is literal. Some just go way too far on the literal crap...

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I found this on the thread We Don't Exist:

 

For what it's worth, at least Pentecostals (Charismatics, Evangelicals, etc.) know the Bible they believe in better than Baptists

 

I'm not sure how to formulate my question. Any ideas? What kind of discussions have you had with Christians about the Bible or about God or about religion? Or what is a good approach? Is there a way to have a discussion about religion and feel good about it? So often I feel like I "lost" because I knew too much or too little but never the right things or the right amount.....

 

I disagree that Baptists don't know the Bible. I was raised Baptist and they sure did where I came from. To this day, not one day goes by that my mother isn't reading it and copying out verses. They were always big on memorization.

 

When I say "know the Bible" I mean chapter and verse and what it says. They don't care or want to know anything else about the Bible, outside of the Bible, I mean about Biblical Archeology, Church history or anything like that. Strictly the book, and the King James Version only, at that. They do know the Bible. How they interpret it is often quite different than someone from a more liberal denomination would. I think it would be hard to imagine how literally the fundamentalist Baptist reads the Bible, if you have not been around it. The passages that would give many people trouble, such as Revelation, large parts of the Old Testament, etc., to an extent bother them too. They are well aware of the violence in the Bible, but it is all explained away by laying all the blame on "sinful" humans and none on god. Their explanation revolves around original sin and free will. Backed into a corner on that, and there is always "God's ways are not our ways and God has the right to do with his creation what he wants to." Something like that. It's very hard to have a discussion with them on religion. Their minds are made up and too much is at stake for them to change.

 

I spent about 5 years in the Episcopal church. When it comes to Christians from more liberal denominations such as this one, I am quite ready to believe that they don't know much about the Bible. Bible study and memorization are not emphasized, or at least not where I went. Certain verses were never read in the services, as if they did not exist.

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I have to agree with DevaLight. I was born and raised Lutheran. I knew the bible fairly well. I went to a Baptist school and we studied it more. BUT when that school took its turn towards fundamentalist (because it didn't start that way but I just thought it was a result of being in the higher classes at the time) it became something else altogether. It became like DL said. We studied and memorized large swathes of the book both the "good" and "bad." My youth was the "fire and brimstone" and not the "hippie" version of xianity. People were evil and if something was wrong with you then you were evil (and luckily I had Tourette's which wouldn't be diagnosed for many, many years...so I was worthless at best). Reading the bible never fazed me unless it mentioned something "dirty" (because just like today violence is better than sex) but killing and slaves (never sex slaves...they were "above" that don't you know...unlike their enemies...so those women were so much better off with the Israelites...really...I bet they were greeted as liberators ;) ) were par for the course.

 

As I said I even had large chunks of it memorized (not anymore though...it's pretty much all gone). They required that because they believed that one day the bibles would be taken away and we'd have to rely on our memories alone to transmit the "word" and for "comforting" ourselves and others during our persecution. Yes, this was instilled in me that this was going to happen in my lifetime while I was in school. That I might have to suffer and even die (or kill) for my "faith." Of course, it's all okay because these are xians and so these are the "good guys" saying all this stuff. I have to agree with our new member that adults, xians, can be evil. They tortured me for years. The only difference was eric(?) is smart enough to break free now.

 

mwc

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Now that I have been an Ex-Christian for nearly 2 years, I now feel that there is simply something wrong with someone who believes literally that the Bible is completely innerrant and the Word of God, and "Holy" and "good", and simultaneously have a comprehesive knowledge of its contents. Though I was a Christian in total 17 years, I spent the first few years really as a "NT" and "Jesus is my Saviour", stay away from the OT type of believer. I can honestly say that when I really started reading through teh OT and was appalled early on. In hind site I can see it all clearly now. I stopped evangelising, entirely in any form, soonn after year 2 or so. I became depressed and ashamed with what I "beleived". (realizing now that I simply didn't beleive it at that point) It was completely apparent to me that a "good" god did not order babies slaughtered, etc, ever. To my credit, I NEVER ONCE defended the actions of Yahweh in the OT. I avoided them like a plague for 14 or so years.

 

Now, after this time has gone by, I realize that I believe there are many Christians who DO know the extent of what is in the Bible, and many of them will defend it shamelessly. There is nothing too digusting for their "god" to do, and he still can be considered "omnibenevolent". I also have run into many many CHristians who are disgusted internally over all these scriptures, but won't abandon their faith purely due to fear.

 

I now consider someone who believes that "god" wrote the Bible, who defends the actions of this "god", to have something VERY wrong with them. Though I was a Christian, I was shocked and ashamed the more I learned of it. And I also stopped thinking people went to Hell for not believing once I knew what was in it. Ironically about 5 years ago I had a RELAPSE ("revival" as known to Christians). That brief period was the closest I have ever been to being insane. After about 6 years of totally "back slidden" basic disbelief, I suddenly was convinced it was all true and that was not even "Elect". It was the darkest time of my life. I did some stupid things I now regret. However, it was shortly after that time I was like finally asking myslef. "Wait a second. Timeout. WHy, Why again, does any of this stuff have to be even true at all? Why? I completely rejected it without any fear what soever about 3 years later.

 

Sorry for the rant.

 

I found this on the thread We Don't Exist:

 

For what it's worth, at least Pentecostals (Charismatics, Evangelicals, etc.) know the Bible they believe in better than Baptists

 

Very interesting! So many exChristians say they deconverted when they started reading the Bible. I've always been very confused by that because it sounds like Christians don't read the Bible. Yet the Mennonites read the Bible a LOT. The more liberal or evangelical they are the more they read and study the Bible. That's the impression I got from the community where I spent my life. And believe me, there was little else than Mennonite for twenty miles within where I was born.

 

Wally is saying some denominations read the Bible a lot more than others. We have large numbers of exBaptists on here. I did a survey some time ago and if I remember correctly, exBaptist of some stripe of another made up a large percentage of our numbers, was it about a third? If that is the case, and if Baptists tend not to read the Bible, I guess it stands to reason that a lot of people think reading the Bible automatically leads to deconversion. But not all of us come from the Baptists and some of us come from families and congregations that are well-versed in the Bible.

 

I'm posting this on exChristian Life because I'm thinking: How we argue with Christians depends on how much they know about the Bible. We will need a very different approach with fundies who know the Bible inside out like I did, or who can quote long passages along with chapter and verse like some people can. We will of necessity take a very different approach if we are talking to someone who barely knows whether David or Paul came first, or whether Samson was in the Old or New Testament.

 

I'm not sure how to formulate my question. Any ideas? What kind of discussions have you had with Christians about the Bible or about God or about religion? Or what is a good approach? Is there a way to have a discussion about religion and feel good about it? So often I feel like I "lost" because I knew too much or too little but never the right things or the right amount.....

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I too would disagree overall that baptists don't study the bible. I sure did, albeit many years ago. True, some may not, they go along for the ride, with the church as a social function, but bible study was important. The thing about the baptists is, they cherrypick the good parts to a T. They ignore or underplay the OT god as a cruel, sadistic, and petulant tribal war-demon, they set up double standards that they can't explain but don't feel the need to, and so on. And they love big, fancy churches.

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....They required that because they believed that one day the bibles would be taken away and we'd have to rely on our memories alone to transmit the "word" and for "comforting" ourselves and others during our persecution. Yes, this was instilled in me that this was going to happen in my lifetime while I was in school. That I might have to suffer and even die (or kill) for my "faith." Of course, it's all okay because these are xians and so these are the "good guys" saying all this stuff....

 

 

Yes, mwc, now that you mention it, that sounds very familiar. I can remember how my mother used to tell me that if I were worried about something to recite to myself Bible verses (never worked for me). They do use it as a source of comfort during persecution. There was always the sense of being a persecuted minority. Christ was going to come soon, but even so, there would be plenty of persecution in the "last days" even before the rapture, so we had to be ready for it.

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Now, after this time has gone by, I realize that I believe there are many Christians who DO know the extent of what is in the Bible, and many of them will defend it shamelessly. There is nothing too digusting for their "god" to do, and he still can be considered "omnibenevolent". I also have run into many many CHristians who are disgusted internally over all these scriptures, but won't abandon their faith purely due to fear.

 

Sorry for the rant.

 

No need to apologize, mick. You are correct, yes there are indeed Christians who do know the extent of what is in the Bible, are disgusted by some of it, yet will defend it despite their disgust. They have identified themselves as "saved" set apart, or "the elect." The stakes are very high for them, psychologically. I am sure fear is a factor, as you say, but there are many reasons. This is their very identity.

 

There are also Christians who are very ignorant of the Bible and have never read it. They shouldn't all be painted with the same brush. Many of them are very intelligent and have the ability to rationalize and live with contradictions and cognitive dissonance that we could never tolerate, because for various reasons they feel they must.

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I too would disagree overall that baptists don't study the bible. I sure did, albeit many years ago. True, some may not, they go along for the ride, with the church as a social function, but bible study was important. The thing about the baptists is, they cherrypick the good parts to a T. They ignore or underplay the OT god as a cruel, sadistic, and petulant tribal war-demon, they set up double standards that they can't explain but don't feel the need to, and so on. And they love big, fancy churches.

 

 

 

 

Agree completely here! The buybull is considered the word and instruction on this earth. I believe most Christians do read the buybull, but like Piprus say's they cherry pick. I remember growing up in church taking one verse (or instruction) and having to have a concordance, and other references to back it up. All the dark horror of the buybull is conveniently ignored in discussions. All the contradictions are also ignored and sidestepped or it has a lame excuse usually blaming man for the evil.

 

One of the main ones is every Christmas when reading about the birth of Christ. His bloodline goes to the house of David not thru his mother but thru Joseph who's not even Christ's 'father'. It's stated every year and it's as if no one hears it or thinks about the huge hole in the story. I swear xtians are under some sorta hypnosis.

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I was a pentecostal, never a baptist, but I KNEW baptists, and saw them toting well worn bibles, just like we did. I would say that baptists and pentecostals read the bible roughly an equal amount, while catholics, episcopalians, etc., tend to read it quite a bit less.

 

It's cherry picking, but it's more... We were strongly encouraged to focus our reading on certain parts: the new NT, and certain parts of the NT more than others, especially the gospels. For the ot, maybe psalms and proverbs, and those books toward the middle more than the books of moses. Books where god's behavior was tooooooo brazenly awful tended to be emphasized less.

 

Sure there was a lot of memorization, but that was all hand picked verses.

 

Yeah, I read the whole thing, and I think others did too, not everybody. In my case I was still pretty young and I just sort of glossed over it in a brain dead fashion, so my first reading didn't really contribute to my deconversion as it did for many.

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I've heard this accusation leveled at Catholics before. Speaking as an ex-Catholic, the bible is read, though how much "nominal" Catholics do is a bit of a debate. The trick of it is, that there is a good bit of extra work that is also treated as cannon, along with topics of church law, et al, that a lot of the lay don't get into.

 

The Catechism is pretty thick, though, a good bit thicker than the Bible, iirc.

 

All denominations have a lot of people that have never read/don't read their book. Even fewer understand what they are reading. Those that understand seem to end up here, ne?

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Yes, mwc, now that you mention it, that sounds very familiar. I can remember how my mother used to tell me that if I were worried about something to recite to myself Bible verses (never worked for me). They do use it as a source of comfort during persecution. There was always the sense of being a persecuted minority. Christ was going to come soon, but even so, there would be plenty of persecution in the "last days" even before the rapture, so we had to be ready for it.

Looking back it's really a pretty crappy thing to do to a kid (or anyone...but especially a kid...but I was all charged up and ready to be a little warrior for my loving "god"). My principal, who served in Vietnam, said this stuff got many a man through being a POW so we needed to learn it for ourselves. The book burnings would start and then the "war." How glorious! Even now I get random songs and verses popping into my head. This stuff just stays with you.

 

mwc

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I have to agree with others here that a lot of people that "read" the bible more skim through it as opposed really giving it a thorough reading. This is probably because most of it is quite boring...especially in the KJV (which most people claim they have no problems reading but since they can't really grasp modern English I have my doubts).

 

I know at my church(es) they also had the various study groups where they'd read the bible but in a "controlled" setting so that they'd read a little bit then discuss it to death (to take the "sting" out of what was just read) and then read more the next week or read it out of order to accomplish the same thing. Really this was just a social function disguised as "study." There were a few long term study classes that took place but they were more apologetics 101 (better than the other groups though since it was the closest thing to academic you'd get).

 

The other thing they did was simply to have a list of suggested weekly readings that people could do on their own but these were just "cherry picked" verses for "inspiration" and not really study. These seem to be what most people did (it was the quickest and easiest).

 

mwc

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In our denomination we read the Bible A LOT. I read the Bible 3 times from start to finish, the NT 10 times, and during Bible school we memorized 100 verses. When I first started to be a bit disappointed with that Church was then the pastor didn't read from at least 10 verses in the bible and interpreted them. I realize now that the process of reading and interpreting based on your imagination, is something rather intriguing and exciting for people (not everyone, but for many), and maybe that's part of the fascination that tie people to the bible and to church?

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Well, maybe I'm wrong then, wouldn't be the first time and not likly to be the last ;)

 

I simply thought most don't read it because of when I mention contradictions and the like, they scramble for the book to prove me wrong, telling me "no it did not say that". I reasoned that someone who read it umpteen times would not need to "scramble" for the buybull. I think a lot of them "selectively" read.

 

Amazing how often people can read a book and not remember it all. If I read Lord Of The Rings that many times I doubt seriously that a casual reader could defeat me on trival questions based on the book...

 

There I go using logic again... It will be my downfall... LOL

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I don't think you're completely wrong Michael. I do think that a majority of Christians don't read the Bible. Our sect was a minority, and it's attraction was that it did read the Bible. Here in the US, I have yet to find anyone that read the whole Bible, and the only place so far is in here, amongst Ex-Christians! Most any Christian I meet have never read the whole thing, and it's almost a given if you meet a Catholic. It seems they don't care so much about the Bible or what it says, because they want the priest to read and interpret it for them.

 

And when Christians read, then have to read selectively and they have to interpret it to fit their belief. There's no way around it, becuase literally taken, the Bible does not, and will never make sense, so the only way is to spin it to fit the pattern instead of reversed. The book is not their guide. The book is only their own applied confirmation of what they already believe.

 

I noticed, as a Christian, that even in our Fundamentalist Church where the bible was supposed to be taken literally, there were places in the Bible that were read figuratively without any obvious reason other than "it fits better".

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Just try to read it and remember it all. As Michael said he tries to point out contradictions. Well, often those contradictions aren't right next to one another and are long forgotten by the time person gets to the place the contradictory info occurs. The context they are currently in explains away (for lack of a better term) the contradiction so it goes unnoticed. When you come along and point it out you simply go to proof verse A and proof verse B. It's downright obvious then (which causes the person to become defensive and maybe go into apologetic mode).

 

It's roughly the same thing as when watching a movie the errors aren't usually apparent because of suspension of disbelief but afterward any errors can be seen more clearly (especially in those lists). The only difference people don't put their literally "souls" into movies so errors are usually acknowledged fairly easily (although I still don't believe Han's explanation for the Kessel Run or the myriad of fans attempts for the same...how about that Hans? ;) ).

 

But I agree that most people don't read a bible verse beyond what goes on inside of a church (or the occasional TV show, ad space sign or sports event body paint nut) and since most people are ChrEasters at best I don't think much bible reading is going on in the xian community overall.

 

mwc

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Thanks for this discussion. Very interesting. Funny how I have to go outside Christianity to get honest answers. I noticed this while I still identified as a Christian.

 

Well, maybe I'm wrong then, wouldn't be the first time and not likly to be the last ;)

 

I simply thought most don't read it because of when I mention contradictions and the like, they scramble for the book to prove me wrong, telling me "no it did not say that". I reasoned that someone who read it umpteen times would not need to "scramble" for the buybull. I think a lot of them "selectively" read.

 

I know people who attend church regularly all their lives who have read the Bible through several times. The reason they have to "scramble for the Bible" in a debate is to be sure they have the wording exactly right. Memory does not always serve perfectly accurately. It would be sacrilege to argue wrongly just because you got a word wrong for no other reason than that you were too lazy to dig out your Bible. I understand that is the reasoning behind that.

 

I have noticed that (in some circles at least) major theological debates hinge on one specific word. Now that I have learned about the difficulties of translating, I question the wisdom of basing entire theologies on the exact wording of the specific passage, be it the King James Version of the English Bible or the Martin Luther Version of the German Bible. All the debates of which I was a big part were based on one or the other of those two. And when there was a discrepency between those two, Luther won the day. In our family discussions (fights?) we would bring in Webster's dictionary and the English-German dictionary to settle debates.

 

What none of us took into consideration was that all of these were mere translations from other languages, that had been copied by hand countless times in dim monasteries by near-sighted brain-dead monks from ancient times who had gotten the "inspired Word" from even older versions of questionable origin published for political agendas in pre-historical eras. Who knows what languages or dialects these pre-historical peoples spoke or wrote in?

 

I admit the *idea* that this is the Word of God handed down to us across the millennia unchanged is aw-inspiring. It simply is. I can see that this in and of itself would be evidence of God's existence, as some people believe. But we have so much evidence that things did not happen this way. So that aw-inspiring dream is "dashed against the rocks" just like the babies in the psalms. Maybe THAT is the kind of babies--brain-child--the psalmist really meant, and not human babies. If he was truly inspired by the Holy Ghost as Christians want to claim, this would make a great deal of sense. Only it is a circular argument. First we have to believe in a God who can have a Holy Ghost to inspire a psalmist who could have meant a brain-child of unchanged scripture from God since time immemorial ad infinitum.....

 

Amazing how often people can read a book and not remember it all. If I read Lord Of The Rings that many times I doubt seriously that a casual reader could defeat me on trival questions based on the book...

 

There I go using logic again... It will be my downfall... LOL

 

Logic will be your downfall? Only if you doubt yourself too much. Know your limits. Remain humble. And logic will serve you well.

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. Here in the US, I have yet to find anyone that read the whole Bible, and the only place so far is in here, amongst Ex-Christians! Most any Christian I meet have never read the whole thing, and it's almost a given if you meet a Catholic. It seems they don't care so much about the Bible or what it says, because they want the priest to read and interpret it for them.

 

I think Han has it right here.

 

Of the people who had to "scramble" for the buybull to argue with me (admittedly few, I don't seek out buybull debates) are scrambling because they think it's not in there, not as an attempt to "get the words right".

 

I don't think I ever bought the "God preserved the word" crap, even back before I knew the bible was different books, not just one. All the false preachers, the hunger and war in the world, I think if he were to "preserve" something it would be peace, or love, or honesty, not a book. Of course though, to my shame I went along with it in my early years.

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Come to think of it, I haven't read the entire Bible either. Very few people have that I know of. I suspect the few who do read it through do so more for the honour of having done it than for any real benefit. I was thinking about people who barely know the narrative of the Bible story versus people who "know it backwards and frontwards" as someone said. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I make use of a concordance so I can find what I want. When I was a child, the only reading material in the house was a Bible Story Book, so I read it and learned the narrative.

 

I don't think you're completely wrong Michael. I do think that a majority of Christians don't read the Bible. Our sect was a minority, and it's attraction was that it did read the Bible. Here in the US, I have yet to find anyone that read the whole Bible, and the only place so far is in here, amongst Ex-Christians! Most any Christian I meet have never read the whole thing, and it's almost a given if you meet a Catholic. It seems they don't care so much about the Bible or what it says, because they want the priest to read and interpret it for them.

 

I don't think we can blame Catholics too hard for not reading the Bible. Up till about the Second Vatican in 1962 they didn't even have the Bible in English, did they? At least not in Church. I understand reading the Bible was strongly discouraged, or even forbidden for the average person, up till very recent times. For a church as old at the RC this would have far more impact on today's generation than for a denomination that started up only a century ago. Why? Because the power of tradition is so strong that the things that happened only a century ago would be as yesterday for the grandparent's of today's young people. And the young people of such a tradition are raised with a strong awareness of this tradition (correct me if I'm wrong, those of you who were raised Catholic). People from a newer denomination would have been raised with the attitude of "we are going to do things better than the "old church" whatever the "old church" was. There would be an attitude of exploration that would be totally absent from a denomination built on tradition. At least, that is the way it would appear to me from a social scientific perspective.

 

And when Christians read, then have to read selectively and they have to interpret it to fit their belief. There's no way around it, becuase literally taken, the Bible does not, and will never make sense, so the only way is to spin it to fit the pattern instead of reversed. The book is not their guide. The book is only their own applied confirmation of what they already believe.

 

I noticed, as a Christian, that even in our Fundamentalist Church where the bible was supposed to be taken literally, there were places in the Bible that were read figuratively without any obvious reason other than "it fits better".

 

Well said! This is why for some Christians the Bible says to drive horse and buggies and for other Christians it says to drive bicycles, or some specific model of car--there was a thread on here somewhere about that.

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Of the people who had to "scramble" for the buybull to argue with me (admittedly few, I don't seek out buybull debates) are scrambling because they think it's not in there,

 

Oh I see what you mean. Yes I can see that, too. I have very few discussions about the Bible outside this forum and outside class. I live alone and socialize very little. One day on the bus the man who sat beside me seemed to feel responsible to evangelize. I saw it coming. I posted the story here. It's also somewhere on exC, but I don't remember where and I think it happened before you joined.

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I tended to skip the Genealogies...

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I think it depends on the educational level of the Christian. I don't know about Canada but the majority of US adults only have a 7th and 8th grade reading level. US Government websites have to adjust for this. The government sites with a 12th grade level don't get many hits. If you take a look at popular Christian websites they are at a middle school level in reading skills. Also, what are the most popular books Christians read? http://christianity.about.com/od/christian...istianbooks.htm

 

What is the biggest complaint that Christians have about atheists other than theology? They are too intellectual. Seriously, until we can relate to them on their level, we will never be able to reach them.

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The dietary laws, and the technical rules about how to make their clothes, farm the land, build the temple, etc. are what I skipped. I did not understand the technical terms at all. And the visions of the prophets--I didn't know at the time that they were visions; I thought the OT was all history. Possibly my mother hadn't read them, either, though she never admitted to it. But she was no help. She would just say that there was much in the Bible that we didn't understand. How I wish she would have been honest, taken an interest, and at the very least she could have looked or asked me to read out loud so she could help me. I understood too much of these visions but since I thought they were history--they were so outrageous I had to skip them in order to retain any respect for God's "Holy" Word.

 

However, I have always been fascinated by names and family histories so I did read quite a few geneologies. It could get depressing when everybody died. For example, King So-and-So begat so-and-so. Who grew up and became king at such and such and begat so-and-so. And when he was old and full of days he died and was buried with his fathers.

 

Maybe it happened only once, I forget. It must have been a Sunday afternoon and I was reading the Bible for past time. I found myself feeling really depressed. There were all these really wonderful success stories of young people growing up and becoming king but they all ended badly. Finally I wised up, stood back and took a look at what I was reading. Then it hit me. I was reading a whole batch of entire lifestories cram-packed into one chapter.

 

An entire lifestory was packed into three short Bible verses and then the narrative rushed on to the next lifestory. Of course these brilliant warriors grew up and successfully ruled awhile and then got old and died. That was what happened to human beings. And all of them lived so many millennia ago that they could not possibly be alive any more. I had to say this to myself in so many words in order to accept it.

 

I guess I was taken up in the stories alright.

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