24 Jan '17 00:58>
Found the following text imbedded in an article and found it to be well thought out, lucid and, well, a reasonable approach to the Bible.
That being said: I do not believe that scripture is holy. I don't believe that it is perfect. I do not believe that it is free from errors. I believe, in the words of the founder of my particular sect of Christianity, John Wesley, that scripture is "Sufficient."
The bible is sufficient.
According to scripture, even GOD HIMSELF points out that "You can't take this stuff literally."
Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Add that to the quotes from Job about how it's really difficult to understand all this stuff. The bible repeatedly implies in the old and new testaments that it is a metaphorical and esoteric work, and then the voice of God outright says so in the new testament.
As far as scripture's go, the bible suffices. It's pretty okay. It has some pretty major problems if you take it literally, because it describes a code of laws designed to hold a society together in absolutely barbaric conditions, but if we're being honest here, my proto-celtic ancestors probably weren't any better 5000 years ago. As far as the rest of the stuff in the book, it's got some problems here in there with internal errors and inconsistencies, where it disagrees with itself, especially about women, but overall, it suffices.
It's very, very important to note that the bible is not meant to be the center of the Christian faith. Jesus, and his teachings, are meant to be the center of the Christian faith. So if you run into one of these fundamentalists who talk about how the bible is the foundation for their faith (rather than Christ) you're dealing with someone that ancient Christians would have considered an idolatrous heretic (read: dangerous moron.)
The bible is a very difficult book to understand and to use because it is not internally consistent, it does not claim to be perfect, and it is mistranslated. So we Methodists have a Method (that's how we got our name) for understanding the world:
So lets use that, what we call the Weslyan Quadrilateral, to think about, oh, the Age of Planet Earth, shall we?
Reason and Experience (through TESTABLE BLEEPING MEASUREMENTS) tell us that the world was not made in seven days, and is in fact, billions of years old.
Tradition tells me that for hundreds of years, human society has been developing wonderful and terrible new technologies using the same methods we use to examine the age of the earth. Tradition tells me that those methods work. The tradition of my denomination of Christianity has been to build schools, to value knowledge, and to support science, to the degree that a Methodist named George Washington Rappalyea was so incensed by a law against the teaching of evolution, that he encouraged his friend John Scopes to challenge the law in that whole monkey trial.
And finally, on the age of the earth, scripture tells me, simply, "I TEACH IN METAPHOR, DUMMY. I'm USEFUL, not PERFECT OR LITERAL."
So on the question of the Age of the Earth, the Weslyan Quadrilateral lays out pretty clearly and pretty easily that A) Science is real and does not teach in esoteric metaphor, and B) the Age of the Earth is whatever science tells us it is, because there can be no logical conflict between a book of esoteric metaphor, and a treatise of testable fact. I mean that. It is mathematically impossible for esoteric metaphor to conflict with testable fact. It's like adding matter and antimatter together. You'll just make a great big damn mess.
A literal reading of the bible is logically inconsistent, both because God says "I teach in metaphor," and because the strongest claim that scripture makes about itself is that it is A) God Breathed, and B) Useful.
And the thing is, if you were paying attention to the first verse we quoted, ADAM was also god-breathed. And look at what happened to him.
Anyone who thinks that the bible is anything more than "useful" needs to go reexamine their life, their beliefs, and the very scriptures they read (which by the way do not even claim to be inerrant, much less perfect.)
To teach creationism in schools therefor is not only a debasement of science, but a violation of MY faith. But fundies find modern mainline Christians to be extremely inconvenient for precisely this reason (we read.)
And we can follow that logical quadrilateral method for theological understanding of nearly any issue. It tells us that women should be treated equally as men in law, in church teachings and hierarchy, and in society. It tells us that LGBT folks should have exactly the same rights as the rest of humanity. It tells us that nuclear weapons are abhorrent, even though there is no mention of nuclear weapons in the bible. It tells us that torture is wrong, even though the bible documents great evils being done to civilians captured in warfare. It tells us that human sexuality is not sinful unless it violates consent. And it tells us that scripture is neither perfect, nor literal.
- Will McLeod