The inability to read the Bible correctly is disturbing in our modern world. Generally this inability is a trait of those who are apart of churches known as Independent Fundamental Baptist. These groups like the Taliban of Islam read the text without any literary criticism. They have no understanding of hermeneutics or exegesis. They read the Bible as God’s word; as in every single word that is written regardless of who wrote it, why it was written, to whom it was written, the response of the intended receiver, the culture of the day etc.
I want to focus on preachers such as Steven Anderson who believes the government should kill homosexuals as a capital offense. Anderson truly believes that homosexuals should be put to death. He reads the text from Leviticus and understands the text outside of the ancient Jewish culture of the day. Anderson’s creates a blanket argument that transcends any common sense. Anderson states he has much of the Bible memorized yet he certainly has little skill when it comes to its interpretation.
Let’s look briefly at the verse regarding homosexuals. I will even use the King James Version which is the only version according to most IFB’s that should be used. Yes, it is true “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6, KJV). Here is the text from Leviticus, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (20:13, KJV). Let us examine this verse for a bit to see if it has any relevance in today’s church.
Obviously if we were to read it as Steven, we would come to the same conclusion. Yet doing so is improper for biblical teaching. The text does say what it says that is without much question, what must be questioned is the motive. Ancient Jews did not perceive women as equals with men. Essentially the verse is saying that if two men sleep with each other as a man sleeps with a woman then the men are lowering themselves to the level of a woman. For the Jews of the day this was not acceptable and worthy of death; just as a person could be put to death according to ancient Jewish law for a number of things that even IFB churches would not condemn. Violators of the Sabbath were to be put to death. I wonder if Steven Anderson obeys the Sabbath rules? Also those who falsely acted as priest should be put to death. One could make a compelling argument that Steven Anderson takes it upon himself to be a priest. He is not even Jewish and certainly not of the tribe of Levi.
Of all of the Jewish regulations that would require the death penalty most fundamental Christians single out the verses that focus on homosexuality. All of the others are looked over; just as slave owners would point towards verses that eased their conscience for conducting a slave trade. For these reasons and so many more preachers need to have at least undergrad training in hermeneutics. Individuals like Steven Anderson may be able to repeat the Bible like a parrot but just as a parrot does not understand what it is repeating, neither does Steven Anderson.
Worldview is a subject brought up within religious groups and denominations. A worldview is simply that, the way you see the world. Most often then not we see the world in a different light than someone else, as we all have different beliefs and opinions.
Nate Talks about worldview along with how our worldview often dictates how we interpret scripture and allows us to either discover the deeper meanings of scripture or remain on the outside drinking the milk of scripture never achieving the ability to eat mature food.
The Bible still maintains the status of being the #1 best selling book ever, so the title of this article may seem misleading. Many would place books such as those written by infamous authors such as Aleister Crowley and the mysterious Necronomicon on such a list, although no other book has been as dangerous as the Bible. Yet these books do not even come close to the carnage the Bible has placed upon humanity. I say this in all seriousness; that God never intended man to use pages of history to be used to cause such harm to his own people. Like many books of history, one needs to read them in the light of their context, most of the time the Bible is never read with context. The Bible is often read as verses plucked out like a Chinese fortune cookie which the reader will interpret to better sooth their conscience and desires. The truth of the matter is most of the time the Bible is never truly read, and in this is the danger.
Before I start rattling off the heinous acts which the Bible has brought upon humanity; or a better phrase would be the carnage humanity has inflicted upon itself through its misinterpretation of the Bible, I want to cut to the core of the matter. Number one, the idea of taking the Bible literally, this is probably the most dangerous and outrages cause. In fact the early church fathers never taught to take the Bible literally. Not taking the Bible literally does not take away the power of the message in which the Bible can bring. In fact, when people take the Bible literally it is read as if God wrote every line as a divine law. Later in history the mixture of religion and government created a theocracy through which the Roman Catholic church wielded unlimited power. Life, death, heaven and hell were the keys to the kingdom and with fear and the sword the church of Rome ruled. The reformation just changed around some words and continued where the Roman church left off. Yes, the common man could now read the Bible and make judgments for themselves, but those judgments still better be in line with the powers that be or off with your head.
The church all the way up until today has never allowed freedom within the pages of scripture. Yes, I believe that the pages of my Bible are inspired words written by men who experienced amazing events. I believe the pages of my Bible can teach me how to live like Jesus, and to give great life lessons helping us to be a better human beings. Yet these page should never be interpreted upon someone else as each person interprets them differently, and without the core value of love, then all is lost. The Bible says test the spirits if love is not what is found then it is not of God. Spiritual freedom comes from removing spiritual rule. In America today, the land of the free there is a movement to create a theocracy, or as I like to call it theo^crazy a theocracy is a government in which religious law governs. Those special few who are said to rightly interpret the scriptures place rules on society based on their judgment. Like the Supreme Court and their duty to interpret the constitution against the laws of the land, so those that who are leaders of denomination damn to hell those who hold beliefs other than their own.
A Christian society must be one of choice, the Bible should be read in the context of which it was written. There was a reason the ancient Roman Catholic church did not want the Bible in the hands of the common man. This was to keep the people under their rule for fear of hell. I believe even in our modern times many leaders within church communities do the exact same thing only on a much lower level; yet still impact the people in which they serve as I will list.
How do I read my Bible? I read my Bible for what it is. Pages which people of the time shared experiencing God according to their view. Without going into a study on hermeneutics the reader of the Bible must examine the author, recipient, intent, time, language, all things must be considered and even then, we most likely fail at coming to the truest interpretation because each one can pull what they want out of it. I go back to the great idea of love. The Bible in my opinion should always be read and applied through the lens of love, for if God is love his words are love. Any words not of love are not of God. The Bible should be studied completely not just read like a newspaper. The Bible must be examined for its truest meaning and that meaning should never be taught as an absolute for no one alive today can claim the authority of God. Spiritual freedom is in doing what one wills with what they believe God has for them to do in life; this if it does not infringe upon the same freedom of their fellow man. If we as Christians do not read the Bible and practice as such we will only repeat the following. Murder, war, and the slavery of the soul of man.
The various interpretations of the Bible have allowed for the legality of murder, the theft of land, the right to wage war, to take away the freedoms of others and force people to be who they were not intended. In modern times the Bible was used to condone and legalize murder, slavery, racism, theft, manipulation, and every other evil desire within the heart of man. While to many this article may come across as church bashing let me assure you I am a man who loves God, loves people, and loves the Bible. I desire to read the Bible and not allow my sinful nature to interpret the words for me. Many of the letters written by the apostle Paul to the churches were of a critical nature. We in modern times take those words of criticism and use them to create our Christian dogma. Often, we must stop and think about were we are at as a church and what we need to change to be more like Jesus. The Bible must stop being used as an instrument of death and destruction and instead be used as what it was originally intended to be. The Bible was created to inspire and bring the example of the life of Christ to the world. Letters that were meant to bring meaning to early Christians who because of their faith were being persecuted and dying for. Today and in the years past, sadly instead of giving hope to the persecuted the words have been twisted and used to persecute. The very reason in which the Bible was created has been perverted. It is my hope and prayer that the church, our church can get back to a church which stands on the love of God, the love of people and the self-sacrificing example of Jesus.
The idea of a place of eternal fire and brimstone has scared the money and personal freedoms of Christians for thousands of years. Yet what does the Bible really say? Does hell exist at all or Jesus the master of hyperbole using the term as a reference to drive home points within his teachings?
When we say that the whole Bible is the “word” of God which I believe has led to much confusion, due to the fact that literalist use the words to control and manipulate; even when they do not realize it. Yes there is most definitely words of God within our Christian text, yes the text is inspired by the Holy Spirit, yet through men who had no idea they were writing holy texts. Rather a book of history, stories of God presented through the eyes of men. Writings of trials and tribulations, praise and lamentations. A story of the people of Israel. A good news of salvation in Jesus, a church created through the power of God, and yet most of our NT is letters written to other churches. This is not a bad thing. But to say it is all the “Word” of God is problematic for Christians the reason as I stated above is the easy way this can lead to manipulation and control of the layman. I like to call my Bible Inspired text, true text, and text of our most holy faith that help lead us to salvation. That’s all happy Easter! I am such a cynic.