Friday, 19 February 2010

Which bits of the Bible to Believe?

So how do I get to be so exact about the non God inspired bits like you then? I read the Bible and wonder how come people are able to spot the bits that don't mean anything. Is it a simple case of choosing the bits that make you feel comfortable?
I have been following a discussion on this blog, and was challenged by the question above.

Before I post my answer I will give a quick insight into where I am coming from.  In a few days time I am going on a course to help me find my next post.  As part of the preparation we have been asked to prepare a CV and the "standard" CofE one includes the following question:
What theological traditions have shaped your ministry? With which do you feel most at ease today?
to which I have answered:
I started my training as a radical liberal, influenced heavily by Bishops Robinson, Spong and Holloway. During my training on the Oxford Ministry Course, which has students from all traditions, I gained a greater understanding of the other traditions and found myself drawn towards a post modern and more mystical faith - discovering that much of my liberal attitude came from a belief that evangelicalism was "wrong", so liberalism "must be" the answer. I now believe that there does not have to be an explanation for everything and that all traditions have a contribution to make.

Today I feel most at ease with post modernism and mysticism, whilst being comfortable with a wide variety of theological traditions, although I find the wilder excesses of all traditions frustrating because of their certainty and exclusivity.
 So now you know where I am coming from...

I don't believe that we can know, or be exact.  On another blog it was suggested that we are all guilty of false teaching - the problem is that, a bit like advertising, we don't know which bits are false.  I recently read that all reputable scholars agree that we cannot read the Bible literally as it is self contradictory - just compare the two creation stories in Genesis, or the accounts of who was first to the tomb.

Bishop Yvette Flunder talks about this:

So the question is how to live a life of faith in the light of this uncertainty.  I have blogged in this area before on being prepared to change my views.

I believe that a lot of the problems come between people who read the Bible at a macro and micro level.  At the macro level there are grand themes running through it and I would pick Love as the greatest of these.  I then read the Bible verse by verse in the light of this - and if a particular verse appears to contradict a grand theme then I will give it less priority.

Just after I finished writing this I read my Bishop's blog which for me also speaks into this space.

Rob Bell, in Dust, one of the Nooma videos (and from memory in Velvet Elvis), explains that a rabbis teaching was referred to as his yoke.  So when Jesus says "my yoke is light" he is saying that his teaching is less burdensome than the Pharisees.  Why do we seem to make it harder?

Part 1: explanation starts at about 5:10.
Part 2:

Christian Aid update:
In 2008 the price of basic foods such as rice, oil and sugar increased by 50%, placing even greater pressure on poor families.  Give 20p for every packet or bottle of rice, oil or sugar you own.
Rice 1, oil 1, sugar 1, pasta 3, oats 1, flour 1.  That's 1.60.

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