Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Bible: I Have Questions


"Hell, if granny doesn't know, do you think I will?!"
Warning: This post may rile your feathers, piss you off, or you may want to stone me, but this is my blog so...
SHUT THE HELL UP or CLOSE THE DAMN WINDOW!!!

Any true scholar has an open mind. Not so open that your brains fall on the floor, but you are open to learn. Well, this scholar was forced into taking theology classes at Rockhurst University by an atheist. Before you gasp and write angry letters to the university saying how atheists shouldn't be allowed to teach a class on theology, open your mind. In my opinion, atheists are great unbiased teachers. It's not that they are devil worshipers, they just don't believe in anything. They teach facts. I like facts. Before you go getting all bent out of shape, I am also a Christian & I believe in faith (it's even tat'd on my wrist in Arabic).

As a child, I was raised by two parents who met in theology school. I figured they should know everything there is to know. Problem is, they had to much faith and not enough facts. My biggest question was always, how the Bible was written. The answer I always received was: Prophets were inspired by God. Call me cynical, but that answer just simply isn't acceptable to an inquisitive mind. My next question, was how? I imagined prophets sitting in a room lit with a single candle and a quil pen as God spoke to them. At times, I hear the voice of God, but it sure isn't enough to write a whole book about. Maybe I'm just not prophetic enough.

I finally got my answer in 2006.

The Bible was writen over a course of many many MANY years. Each book of the Bible has a specific purpose and an agenda. The scrolls were collected and stored at churches, then the version known as the King James Version was translated during his rule...around 1611. Take a break from reading my blog and Wiki: Authorized King James Version. I'll wait....

I'm not doubting that the men who actually wrote the original words of the Bible aren't holy, but I'm questioning the intent of the 47 scholars that edited this holy book. I quote:
"The king gave the translators instructions designed to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy."

If this doesn't raise questions in your mind, I don't know what does. The purpose of this post is NOT to turn people away from God, I'm just raising questions & looking for answers. I'm no historian, but I know for a fact that rulers don't always have the purest intentions in mind. They often use their power to push their own beliefs on others. I also know for a fact that the original Bible consisted of several more books that have mysteriously dissapeared. What information did those books contain? How much of the original content from the surviving books, actually made it into this version that so many Christians hold dear to their hearts? What exactly was the Church of England's "ecclesiology" and "episcopal structure" in 1604 when translation began?

My next concern has to do with the actual translation of the Bible. I'm speaking of the very first step: Translating the books of the Bible from their original languages into English.

I studied Latin for 3 years and Spanish for 3 years. I know how difficult the process of translating things can be. Among the obvious roadblocks and plain 'ol human error, think about the words in other languages that simply don't exist in English. English doesn't even have a direct equivalent word for them. I can give you a few examples:
  1. Waldeinsamkeit (German): the feeling of being alone in the woods
  2. Ilunga (Tshiluba, Congo): a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time
  3. Esprit de l’escalier (French): a witty remark that occurs to you too late, literally on the way down the stairs…
I wonder how many words in the original texts of the Bible left scholars searching for ways to explain them in English? How many words were simply mistakenly mistranslated?

My last concern is about the actual content in the Bible. I've heard several conflicting instructions. A few pastors have told me that the Old Testament is the "Old Law" and is no longer followed. You should only follow the New Testament, the "New Law." I don't think all Christians got the memo.

After you figure out weither to pay attention to both testaments or pick just one, you have to then choose which instructions to follow and which to classify as outdated and ignore. One verse in the Bible says you shouldn't play with the skin of a pig. Does that mean football players are comiting a sin? Another part says women should not dress in men's clothing. Pant suits were once considered mens clothing. Do I need to ask God for forgiveness for owning a few? Should protestors be stationed outside of Express, The Limited, and Banana Republic for selling them? It only seems fair since they stand outside of Planned Parenthood and harass pregnant women.

What gives any one the right to choose to ignore these principles but follow principles that deem sex before marriage or same-sex unions a sin? In stating this, I'm not stating any of my personal beliefs. I'm merely asking questions.

Google: Inconsistencis in the Bible

The list is endless. I don't feel the need to elaborate.

IN CONCLUSION

I am more spiritual than religious. I beleive in a close and personal relationship with God/Jesus. I believe in prayer or just having a conversation with him. I take the Bible for what it is. I think it contains great stories of how God has worked in people's lives. It's kinda like one big book of testimonies. I believe it can be a great source of wisdom, but I'm not going to follow it to the letter. If that makes me a bad Christian then oh well. God knows my heart. The part I will follow to the letter is the 10 Commandments. They make the most sense to me and I whole-heartidly believe that God wrote them himself. If you notice, they aren't judgemental, they don't condem other people, and most center around the famous Golden Rule. In my opinion, that's what Christianity is all about. God's love.


7 comments:

Mz. Quanta said...

Another interesting post to say the least...you have raised many issues so let me try to be as thorough as possible.

First off, I'll say that it is a good thing to question your spiritual foundation if it prompts you to define what you believe in for yourself. However, there is a fine line between curiosity and doubting God.

I ran into this same issue about a week ago. After talking with my manager at work about some discrepancies he found in the Bible and from other research I began to doubt my faith because he raised some serious questions.

I'd like to use a scripture, if I can, to answer your question about the new testament overriding the old testament. Matthew 5:17-18
17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

The problem with interpretations is that some people take them out of context and force others to question God's Word vs. the lips that preached it. We cannot base our faith on what man does - he will as we all do fall short. What gets me is that it is so easy to doubt the Bible, yet we accept so many other books without question.

I'm not knocking your for your post, but let's be real about it. We both went to Lincoln and used some of the same textbooks...read some of the same tales of american and int'l history. Did you for one second question the validity of say a battle mentioned about WWII?

Let me bring another scripture into this thang. Hebrews 11:1
1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. If we rely on what our limited brains can comprehend we will always have a stumbling block in our faith - at some point you either accept the Bible as truth or not.

We cannot pick what we want out of the Bible because it is all that we understand. Prov 3:5
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Just because we do not understand something or a particular scripture is unexplained does not mean the Bible contradicts itself and is invalid. We were born into this world so it existed before us and it will exist after we're long gone so it is unrealistic to even think we will find all of the answers. In my opinion, I might not understand every passage in the Bible, but for me to question any part of it would invalidate the rest. It has not been proven wrong and I don't think there is any book that has been published that I can say the same. It is the only guide we have to learn how to live a Christ-like life. Do you think God would allow us to be led by a false manual?

Love ya boo

Jaz said...

I'm in no way questioning my faith. Like i said at the beginning of the post, it's tat'd on my wrist and faith is the only reason I actually even believe in God. The scripture you quoted from Matthew actually proves one of my points on the problems I have with the Bible. If whoever who wrote that verse is actually speaking about all the laws listed in the Bible (which were actually more "laws" of the church at the time NOT God's commandments) then everybody is committing sins they don't even know about, like playing football & women wearing jeans. By quoting a verse from the Bible you brought up a whole nother issue I didn't even talk about. It's why I don't like sermons. People take a verse or two from the Bible and use them to get their message across ignoring the actual context of the verse.

Just as I don't doubt the history we read in our history books, I look at them the same way I do the Bible. I take it in strides. I don't doubt what they say happened, happened. I do know it's not the whole story though. Just as textbooks and history as we know it was written with a purpose, so was the Bible. I'm not doubting that things in the Bible didn't happen, my concern is with what those 47 scholars did while editing it. Unlike history, where Black people were left out of the books, but we can go to other sources to find out the "real deal," doing that with the Bible is hard to do. In the end, the Bible is nothing more than a historical textbook that we consider holy.

In reading your comments I think you misunderstood the post. I'm not questioning if the Bible is true or not. I'm questioning how the King James Version came to be a "Version." If the Bible we read is merely a version, that means that other versions have existed before this one did. Again, I direct you to Wiki to look that one up.

In the end, I'd be happier with a book containing ALL of the original scrolls. The KJV is an "authorized" version. You may shoot me for saying this, but the way it was edited/compiled was done in the same way that propaganda is done. It's meant to push the ideologies of its commissioner.

When reading this and forming my belief structure, I take all of this into consideration. That's why I consider myself spiritual instead of religious. For the sake of mainstream classification purposes I am considered a Liberal Christian. I'll follow the 10 Commandments to the letter and consider the rest, wise suggestions. I consider the 10 Commandments to be "the law."

The Bible isn't a false manual by any means. I just personally feel that people don't follow it correctly or understand its purpose.

Mz. Quanta said...

Okay, it seems I might have misunderstood the meat of your post so let me back track a little to clear up some stuff.

Is it that you are questioning the Bible or the writers of it?

I asked myself what would change if more parts of say the Book of Matthew were released or maybe even Revelations. But then again I'm trying to figure out what would it take to change my train of thought. I don't think you're a bad christian for wanting the entire story. Do you think any of the parts that are missing would contradict what's in our Bibles today? If you can agree that the Bible was an inspired text, then all of the missing chapters were written by the same individuals and they should be written in the same perspective.

From what I can understand in your comments, you also question the motive and interpretation of the Bible and even some of the ministers preaching it today.
If we posted a scripture on Facebook, I guarantee we'd get 100 different interpretations of it - it comes down to this...you have experienced God for yourself I hope and you've seen his gracious side as well as his corrective side. Therefore, you are aware of what His character traits are...pick one verse out of the Bible and let's discuss whether it coincides with God's character or man's agenda. It's the only way we can begin an unbiased dialogue and maybe teach each other something.

The fact that you grew up in a house full of strict theologists is probably an underlying reason why you have trouble taking the Bible as literal as your parents have taught you. Church-goers can be very judgmental, it is hard to live your life by a strict set of rules and then condone the lives of others that live outside that set of rules. If you are a Christian, then you push God's agenda and not your own - people will not feel judged but convicted and know that every word you say is rooted in love. It is never my intention to show you how to implement faith in your life or how to read the Bible.

Let's just agree to be honest, open to criticism and most importantly focused on living a Christ-like life vs. a self-governed one.

Jaz said...

I'm questioning the EDITORS of the Bible. The people who got hold of the complete set of scrolls, the original translations, and decided what to include and what to ignore. I don't think these lost scrolls will contradict what the Bible currently has to say, but it will raise some eyebrows to say the least. With the exception of women such as Ruth & Ester, the Bible is pretty tough on women. What if one of those lost scrolls contains new information? What if one of those lost scrolls simply refers to God as a SHE instead of a HE? I have no idea what information is contained in them. Not many people do.

No books of the Bible were written from the same perspective. Some books of the Bible are actually letters written to a certain group of people for specific reasons. Other books, like the gospels, are accounts people have of what happened from their points of views. Some books like Proverbs simply document wise words. What if one of those lost scrolls should have been included with the gospels? That means we are missing a whole book of even more things that Jesus did while he was on Earth.

It's not the verses that display man's agenda. It's the actual included books and the books that were left out. Just as preachers pick and choose scriptures that support their arguments/sermons, those 47 Scholars/Editors picked and chose books of the Bible that got their message across.

I don't even deal with ministers in this post. They are ordained, but they are humans. Plus, all are not the same. I'm happy that you realize there would be 100 interpretations of one verse. That's a flaw. People say that being Gay is a sin, but the verses they use to back it up can be interpreted many ways. Some interpretations support their argument, and others don't. It also leaves room for loopholes. Let's say a transexual man & a transexual woman get married. In essence, this is a union of a genetic man & genetic woman. Where is the sin? I dare a southern Baptist in Mississippi to facilitate their wedding and think he'll still have a congregation once the wedding ceremony is over.

That's why I like the 10 Commandments. There is no interpretation of them. You can't get more simple than these rules.

My parents following the Bible to the letter should mean that I would follow suit. After all, that's how I was raised. Not to question things. Unfortunately, that's not how God made me. I've always questioned everything around. I've always questioned conventional thought. It's like I was never born with that "veil" that W.E.B Dubois spoke of in his book Soul of Black Folk. Unlike the majority of people, I'm not scared to see the world for what it is and understand all sides of it. I'm that rare person who sees the world in color while others see it in black & white then argue with me that color doesn't exist.

What people consider laws in the Bible, they were actually laws of the land during Biblical days. They aren't necessarily "God's Laws." The only laws God ever gave us were the 10 commandments. I'll end this comment with 5.

* DEUTERONOMY 22:13-21
If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately.
* DEUTERONOMY 22:22
If a married person has sex with someone else's husband or wife, the Bible commands that both adulterers be stoned to death.
* MARK 10:1-12
Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.
* LEVITICUS 18:19
The Bible forbids a married couple from having sexual intercourse during a woman's period. If they disobey, both shall be executed.
* MARK 12:18-27
If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.
* DEUTERONOMY 25:11-12
If a man gets into a fight with another man and his wife seeks to rescue her husband by grabbing the enemy's genitals, her hand shall be cut off and no pity shall be shown her.

Mz. Quanta said...

This discussion is kinda going in circles...the fact that there are 100 interpretations of the same scripture is a flaw in the reader, not the Bible.

You said that if the missing scrolls re-surfaced it would not contradict the word that has already been brought forth so why is it so important? If God is referred to as SHE vs. HE that might change our interpretation but the essence of who HE is. He's not a man or woman in the sense we're used to.

You have listed 5 scriptures but you made no comment on why they are important. Do they contradict each other?

See I think again that you are focusing on the messenger and not the message. All of those scriptures are self-explanatory and require no elaboration. Yes, they are very strict and are not followed to a tee. Does that mean the Bible is questionable or people's obedience of the word?

Jaz said...

I actually can see how all the interpretations can be a flaw on both parts, but the questions I raise in my post have nothing to do with the interpretation of the Bible verses. It has to do with the manner in which the King James Version of the Bible came to be a Version. What about the other "Versions?"

If you re-read the paragraph above where I posted the Bible verses, you'll see why I posted them. I posted them to show items the Bible lists as "Laws" that were actually laws of the land/church at the time and not actual Laws from God like Christians understand them to be. I also posted them as examples to my point of how Christians pick and choose which of these "Laws" they want to follow. When identifying sins, Christians look to these "Laws" and quote scriptures containing them, but ignore "Laws" like the ones I referenced. Again I say, Why ignore some rules but live by others? This further supports my decision to only follow the 10 Commandments as I believe they are the only "Laws" in the Bible that are actually "God's Laws."

To your question about knowing why the missing scrolls are important, I'll simply ask you this. Would you purchase a book if you knew it wasn't complete and things were missing? I highly doubt it. You'd go to the store and demand your money back. If it's something like a history book that you'll be tested on, I know for a fact you'd be pissed if it conveniently left out the years from when the Slave trade first began to when the slaves were freed. Although knowing that information won't contradict history as you know it, you'll be missing information from what happened in your past. It might be nice to know that your ancestors were enslaved for a couple hundred years or so. I'm just sayin. Plus, if you consider yourself to be an intellectual person, you should have an inner desire to know the whole story even if it doesn't radically change any of your prior information. If I'm basing my life around something, I want the whole story.

Saying the scrolls could possibly refer to God as SHE was just an example. I don't know what those scrolls contain. I guarantee that even one reference to God as SHE would fuel a feminist movement though. As a woman, you must know and understand the bigger picture. I agree, it doesn't change the character of God, but that simple reference would have a huge impact on Christian women everywhere. The fact that men allowed the highest possible ruler to be refereed to as a woman, is a powerful statement.

Again, my focus is not on the messenger in terms of Christians spreading the Gospel or Ministers/Pastors in the church. The flaws with that are obviously to immense to even waste my time exposing. Any random person can see those visible flaws.

I think you may find it helpful to Wiki or Google the term: "Liberal Christian." If you read it with an open mind, I feel you will be able to better understand how I view things. At the root of everything, I view the Bible as a historian would view any historical document. That's what the Bible is, an historical document people have deemed as sacred. You also need to understand that although I raise questions about the Bible, I don't find it questionable. I find the way people use it and how they view it to be questionable.

To understand how I view things, you may also want to read Soul of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois. He speaks about a "veil" of conventional thought people unknowingly wear. I don't have that veil. Although my views on things are as unpopular and unconventional as Martin Luther's were back when he nailed that document to the church's front door, I'm only speaking the truth. He was also only speaking the truth. People just don't want to take that chance to open their eyes and see the world in color instead of black and white. New things can be scary for some.

I mean, who actually wants to "question" the use of the very document they base their life around. If you don't ask questions, you'll never gain true knowledge. In my quest for biblical knowledge, I've reshaped my views on the Bible and have gained a stronger relationship and awe of God in the process. In a book compiled by imperfect & self-serving humans, God's true law (The 10 Commandments) shines like a 160 watt bulb in a dark room with no windows or doors. The red, highlighted, words or Jesus in the Gospels shines just as brightly. While the rest of the Bible places sin and punishment in most cases, in the same sentence, these two pieces of the Bible don't. No amount of editing can change that. This one example of the differences in their words versus the words of man in the Bible make my core faith in the holy trinity stronger.

If you take anything at all away from this post, I want you to realize that it's dangerous and unwise to label many things as sin. Christians need to leave that up to God. I'm saying, just because a screwdriver isn't going to be any use to you as a measuring cup doesn't mean it's not going to work when it comes time to putting a screw in something. People need to use things for their intended purpose. The parts of the Bible people use as a LAW book weren't meant for that purpose. People need to take the Bible for what it is and look to it more as an extremely thick book containing TONS and TONS of testimonies of the wonderful things God has done for his people.

Mz. Quanta said...

I went to Wikipedia and have a better understanding of who liberal christians are.

As I have said I respect your opinions babe. We both agree to not view spirituality as a black and white issue. However, you require more of a factual basis than I do and that's a foundation that we will not agree on. I vowed that I would take Him at His word and since I do not have another book besides the bible (despite the version) it is all I have and I've accepted that.