I DON’T BELIEVE everything I’ve been taught about the Bible, God, or what it means to be a Christian.
I’ve been taught wrong.
I didn’t start correcting my thinking until seminary, which is when I had to study the Bible for myself. That’s when I figured out I had been taught some screwy stuff.
Even then, after my brain figured out that I had been misled by well-intentioned church folks, it took years before I felt free enough to change my behavior.
My head was free. But doggone, for years my heart hung onto those stupid, pharisaical rules that have nothing to do with a thoughtful reading of the Bible.
- Don’t drink. Tell it to Jesus in Cana, who made enough wine to get the whole town drunk. Although the Bible does warn against getting wasted: “Do not get drunk” (Ephesians 5:18). Okay, the sentence adds “on wine.” But I think it’s a fair guess that Paul, who wrote the letter, wouldn’t want his people getting drunk on Coke and rum, either.
- Don’t go to movies. Yeah, find that in the Bible.
- Don’t go to the high school prom. Hell’s bells I still can’t dance. And I may never get my boogie on. Heaven knows I’ve tried.
Our lives are filled with people telling us what to believe, what to think about whatever topic they want us to think about, and how to live.
It’s like that within the Christian community.
As in “You’d better believe that if Paul wrote it and it’s in the Bible, then it’s what God wants us to do.”
Well, what if it’s not what God wants us to do? What if God’s okay with estrogen in the pulpit, though Paul certainly had a problem with those chemicals at a podium: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet” (1 Timothy 2:12).
What if it’s just what Paul wanted Timothy to do there in the Ephesus church Timothy was pastoring?
What if Paul had known that a church committee 300 years later was going to put his letter in the Bible? Maybe Paul would have written a different letter. A letter for everyone, and not just for Timothy.
I believe it’s okay to think about these things.
That’s why I write my books the way I do, with different takes on topics like these. I present as best I can the strongest arguments of the traditional understanding as well as those of Christian skeptics and investigators who want to build their faith on something more than thinking what someone else tells them to think.
The brain was God’s idea.
“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous.”
As usual, enjoyed this post very much. Keep up the good work, Stephen.
But, I continue to believe that Christianity is weakened when we question the legitimacy of the Bible too much. In what other field of endeavor is the spec book/training manual questioned as vigorously as the Holy Bible? Were I person looking for a spiritual home today, I’m not sure what I would think of Christianity. Would I want to join a group that doesn’t seem to know what they believe?
Mr. Miller, why are All the picture characters in your book The Complete Guide to the Bible white? We’re not the Israelites people of color or any of the other biblical figures in the Bible?
This is my only dislike of your book which makes me uncomfortable to share it. I have read it through and would love to share but the photographs seem misleading.
Stephen M. Miller
Karen, I don’t know what you mean. Check out the Egyptian boy on p. 85, more on page 105, art of Assyrians on p. 112, Persian on p. 128. Much of the Bible is about the Jewish race of people, so there are lots of Jews, too. There are lots more pictures of Middle Eastern people throughout the book. What race would you like to see more of in the Bible?