Dexter

What is your stance on the Bible?

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I am curious to the other frequents of this forum, what is your relationship with the Bible? Or perhaps if that wording is too implicit, what is your stance on the Bible? I now find that my relationship with the Bible has become complicated. There are parts of it that are still powerful and core to my value system.

 

1 Corinthians 13 for example. In my own paraphrase: If I can speak in all the language of men and angels but not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I can prophecy and fathom all mysteries and possess all knowledge and even have a faith to can move mountains, but I do not have love, I am nothing. If I give everything I have, everything I am, everything I could be but I do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is: Patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers and never fails. Prophecies will fail. Tongues will be silent. Knowledge will vanish. But of the things that will endure are faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these three is love.

 

The power of this chapter in my life cannot be understated. Reciting it all from memory resonates at my very core. I believed this. I lived this. I incorporated it into my very identity. And why shouldn’t I? These were the words of my creator! There were the words of a being whose reality looked like this. And I want to live in a reality that looks like this. No matter how cliché, corny or sappy, I always cry at stories of reconciliation and reunion. And cry even harder at stories of loss and tragedy. 

 

But what to think now that the terrible thought looms over me that this passage is not, in fact, an intrinsic aspect of reality, but rather just another human’s idea of utopia? When these were the words of god, it brought me hope so deeply that this was what reality was supposed to look like. And now I face the probability that this is a fantasy and not some deep truth of the universe. Even so, to you, mysterious writer/editor who is responsible for the current version of 1 Corinthians 13, you spoke to my heart more deeply than any author in history.

 

Or the fruits of the spirit. Love (there it is again), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Again, another thing so very self-evident to me. Something I studied frequently and asked myself if I was employing when helping others. Or the template I’d use to evaluate my past conversations to see what I was doing wrong. I spent many many years developing my patience, which I was, arguably, the worst at. And while there are still triggers that can set me from 0 to “I want you to stop existing” almost immediately, I have learned how to keep my patience in most instances, especially with people who come from backgrounds with poor communication where the only way they learned to be heard is through shouting. 

 

Parts of the Bible are still deeply meaningful and significant to me. Much of my identity comes from it. But now, my rejection of much of Christianity, I am not sure how I feel about it anymore. God is a narcissist. Some passages are all about control. 

 

-Lean not on your own understanding Proverbs 3:5-6

-Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me John 14:1

-The Pentateuch. Just the Pentateuch. I won’t bother citing specifics or we’ll be here all day.

 

And other examples I know you are all familiar with. These are just off the top of my head. These are parts of the Bible I can no longer abide. There are some meaningful parts of the Bible, and some rage inducing ones. I am unsure what to do with it anymore. 

 

What is your stance on the Bible?

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@Dexter

 

The Bible is a collection of literary works. 

 

That said, yes, sometimes there is good advice in there but most of it can be regarded as general common sense and/or a kind of innate survival guide - not directives from a deity. 

 

I'm uncomfortable with so many folks speaking of "Biblical morals" .  I think, as a nation or a world, some of these morals would be more readily adapted if they were not associated with the Bible or any religion for that matter. 

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Dexter, great question!  I view the bible similarly to MOHO; simply as a work of literature (or multiple works of literature to be more specific). Parts of it are lovely, parts of it ugly.  For me, I've had enough of it for a lifetime and can imagine not picking it up ever again.  So I also obviously have some feelings of antipathy as well toward it ;)

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The Bible is a collection of theological myths that reflect the beliefs of the cultures that produced them. 

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The Bible oversells 'The perfect is the enemy of the good', among other things.

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The Bible is undoubtedly the most important book ever written. If viewed as the word of God,  it's silly and useless. But if you see it as a book,  written over hundreds of years by dozens of people, it's pretty cool. And there is some really great stuff in it. 

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Keep in mind that it is a mixture of profound thoughts, nice poetry, and dangerous myths passed off as reality. Profound thoughts are a good part of philosophy, but disconnect them from the idea that the god of the Bible had anything to do with them.

 

There is also a LOT of non-history passed off as history. Most of the Old Testament is made up. Genesis never happened. The Exodus never happened since "the Jews" were never captive in Egypt. The Babylonian captivity happened, which led to interesting mixes of theology, Jewish sorcery, and the "star of David" which wasn't part of his life. Some of that may have come during the time of Solomon. It does mention historical places and people, but it is like saying Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter. Mentioning Lincoln doesn't mean there are vampires or that he hunted them.

 

Mostly I find that philosophy isn't about being moved emotionally, but what motivates me to become or to be a particular way. Weeping at profound thoughts is one thing, but do I embody them? I find that when I am most angry that my motivation changes to one of self-interest at others expense, but then I realize the violence that I am about to embody and instead choose to behave kindly. My choice is therefore the most powerful thing I have, and when I put kindness into action my anger sees the result of the kindness and learns a bit from it.

 

(An interesting flip-side to that is, sometimes it is the right thing to choose what is best for you regardless of what another person wants. Sometimes you may need to divorce, sue, kill an intruder, demand payment, not put up with freeloaders, etc.)

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I view the bible as works of literature and myths that represent the cultures in which they were written. I also view the bible (and any other holy book) as among the greatest threats we have that are counter-productive to living in a peaceful, egalitarian society. As long as they are viewed as holy books and the word of god, they have the power to pit people against each other and divide and conquer.

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I think the bible is a mirror on what some humans thought in the past.  It shows how some people tried to explain things they didn't understand, how some people tried to control others, and in some places it shows the best of human aspirations and dreams.  As others have said, I think it is, in general, a horrible basis as a guide or instruction manual for living your life, but that doesn't mean that some parts aren't poetic or even inspirational.

 

Even christians don't try to follow many of Jesus' sayings.  They just aren't practical, even if they sound "good".  Why would I turn the other cheek when someone is beating me?  Lots of battered wives have suffered unnecessarily by trying to follow that misguided advice or the prohibition against divorce. 

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On 12/27/2018 at 12:25 PM, Dexter said:

I am curious to the other frequents of this forum, what is your relationship with the Bible? Or perhaps if that wording is too implicit, what is your stance on the Bible? I now find that my relationship with the Bible has become complicated. There are parts of it that are still powerful and core to my value system.

 

As others have said, it's a mixed bag of good and bad things. I used to hold it dear when I believed it to be true, and it still had major importance to me in the first few years after I realized it's not true, but for the most part I've moved on. Other than when discussing Bible issues here, I rarely read it anymore, though in the past I have read it far more than most Christians do in their entire lifetimes.

 

On 12/27/2018 at 12:25 PM, Dexter said:

1 Corinthians 13 for example. In my own paraphrase: If I can speak in all the language of men and angels but not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I can prophecy and fathom all mysteries and possess all knowledge and even have a faith to can move mountains, but I do not have love, I am nothing. If I give everything I have, everything I am, everything I could be but I do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is: Patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers and never fails. Prophecies will fail. Tongues will be silent. Knowledge will vanish. But of the things that will endure are faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these three is love.

 

There are definitely some good concepts there. I do disagree with the notion of speaking in tongues, prophecy, or faith moving mountains. That's superstition. However, exalting love above all else is noble. Interestingly, the God of the Bible doesn't fit many of the attributes of love listed there. He is not always kind, he's a jealous God, he's self-seeking, he's easily angered, he keeps a record of wrongs, he does not always protect, and he does fail people.

 

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My stance:

 

The bible is the most important collection of written works in the Western World, and the OT is the most important I'd argue for the Middle East both past and present.

 

Via these works, people now long dead still influence world events, and impact peoples lives on a daily basis. Thus the bible is an important work to understand.

 

It has some good parts and some interesting poetry, and writing styles, but it is also one of the most violent books ever written - and we encourage children to read it thinking that's a virtue while not letting them watch game of thrones! Weird we humans are. Genesis is basically mythical folklore, and later history portions are heavily slanted to tell a particular story.

 

The main crux of the bible is to purport to be the word of god. On this subject, all I can say is that it's supernatural claims, as far as I can tell, are utter bullshit.

 

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The bible is a collection of fictional literature. It has some nice, fluffy passages that can pacify some people during times of stress. It also has some passages that no civilized person could possibly justify as being inspired by a loving, caring god. I haven't read it or used it for comfort in many years, simply because it doesn't represent anything good or comfortable for me. To me, it represents the evil that stole my childhood.

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Besides the koran. Its the most vile, badly written pile of schiff to have ever have been printed. 

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My stance on the bible?  I usually use a left forward stance per the Shotokan tradition (Zenkutsu Dachi) with the bible firmly beneath my left foot.

 

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Stance on the bible? Good question actually. I think it is a great example of what humans can write when they have a deeply felt motivation. There is some really good storytelling. And if you want some amazing poetry, check out Song of Solomon. Some kinda mushy corny, some outright beautiful. But one must keep in mind that firstly, the OT is written by Jews for Jews, from the Jewish perspective. It was never intended for non-Jews. If you want to know about the Jewish religion, it's a good read to learn how they think.

 

The NT is a small collection of a few letters assembled to make a "book", and many of those letters are not confirmed who wrote them. BIG red flag. Maybe it's just me, but I always had a question about such important literature that the author was lost over time. Seems rather careless of the practitioners if you ask me! 

 

I once did lengthy research into the history of the KJV bible because I was curious as to what is the real original biblical text. The results of that research played a major role in causing me to question the concept as a whole. It became very apparent that men over time, based on various motivations, took it upon themselves to tell the masses what the text should be. Another red flag. At least the OT remained consistent over several hundred years. That is one thing I do respect the Jewish community for. The NT has changed time and again, depending on who was doing the translation, and that continues to this day with newer and newer translations. When I was a believer, I found one of the vilest versions ever was the NIV version. Clearly, that translation has an agenda behind it and not a Christian one at that.

 

FYI, the publisher (Zondervan) of the NIV is also the publisher of the Satanic Bible. True story. Moral of the story...the Christian community itself cannot even decide what their own text is. HUGE red flag!

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The scriptures that composed the bible were a product of their time.  No doubt that these middle eastern tribes had to adhere to the rules presented in said scriptures as to prevent neighboring tribes from outcompeting them.  It also served as a mechanism for social cohesion.  It was the best that group of humans could come up with given their knowledge and environment.  These scriptures should have remained a historical curiousity and nothing else.  However, modern humans try to function in the modern world with these texts.  From a technical standpoint, it would be the equivalent of trying to run DOS as your operating system on a laptop designed for Windows 10 AND trying to get work done/accomplish modern computer tasks.  

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     If the bible didn't have an massive group of active believers then picture something like the myths of the ancient Greeks.  You'd just have a collection of stories.  And like those stories some people would study them but most people would never, ever, hear more than a few words, if anything, from those stories (and if they did they'd likely forget them as quickly as they do other ancient myths).  We'd get the usual debates over what things were true history or not and so on but it would be unlikely that anyone would claim the god(s) contained within were ever real, again, just like all the other ancient stories of this nature.  For the most part it would join the others in collecting dust on shelves.

 

          mwc

 

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The bible is a collection of myths, just-so stories, and propaganda that was written by a motley group of men over the course of several centuries. Historically speaking, it is one of the most influential books ever. There are some facts in there, interspersed with fanciful exaggerations and outright lies by men who sought to concoct a religion (or several religions in succession). Some perhaps were sincere, while others merely sought a means with which to control others' lives.  It must be studied critically, and should never again be seen as the inerrant word of a god. 

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In fairness to the handful of authors of the books within the bible, they seem to understand how humans operate. Telling stories of battles in places that actually exist, of people that some of which actually existed, and tribulations that humans really experience is pretty powerful stuff to the extent humans tend to overlook those areas of the stories where embellishment and outright exaggerations and even complete falsehoods make for a good story. If a book is art, then the Judeo-Christian bible was a masterpiece in playing on the human psyche.

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5 minutes ago, Lefty said:

In fairness to the handful of authors of the books within the bible, they seem to understand how humans operate. Telling stories of battles in places that actually exist, of people that some of which actually existed, and tribulations that humans really experience is pretty powerful stuff to the extent humans tend to overlook those areas of the stories where embellishment and outright exaggerations and even complete falsehoods make for a good story. If a book is art, then the Judeo-Christian bible was a masterpiece in playing on the human psyche.

 

Very good point!

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