Summary: The culture has problems with all kinds of authority. They question when anyone finds authority in the Bible and are offended when anyone else does.
Today we are going to examine another of the many problems our culture has with Christianity. There are a lot of intelligent and well educated people that have firm opinions about people/Christians that claim the Bible as the central truth of faith.
Perhaps I need to be clear about a point before we get to that direction. The non believing culture has a problem with people that claim that the Bible can be viewed as a literal and authoritative source for people to guide our daily lives.
There is a phrase that is used to describe what Methodist, including united Methodist use as a guide to our theology, our study of God.
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral. That is a mouth full. John Wesley never defined that phrase. He never identified 4 rules for guiding our faith, however, in the tine between the 18th century AND THE 19TH century scholars studied Wesley’s work and identified 4 separate sources that He used to come to a theological conclusion.
Scripture – the Bible OT/NT
Tradition – 2 thousand years of church history
Reason – rational thinking and sensible interpretation
Experience – a Christian’s personal and church experience In Jesus Christ.
The order used is important. It identified that scripture is the primary tool where we are learning about God and Jesus Christ. It is the main source for identifying the character of God and a guide book for people to find direction and knowledge about a relationship with God.
I have heard several objections that non-believers have used to dismiss the value of the Bible as a valid tool to aid people in believing and knowing God. Their objections to the Bible are the basis of discounting Christians as being a little nuts or backward or just plain weird.
Here in our culture and especially in the South the prevailing thought you are likely to hear is that there is plenty of good information in the Bible. However, there is no way that it should be taken literally.
I have heard this from all sorts of people in my life time. As a student at Sorter in Biblical studies I was exposed to all sorts of varied writers, philosophers, Christians and non-Christians as a part of my education.
There are many brilliant people out there over the past several 100+ years that have made statements related to reasons that the Bible cannot be taken literally. That it is filled with myths and fables and many of them suggest that the Bible has been altered and modified by the Romans or early church leaders to change the facts to their advantage.
The basic thought is that for the NT 2000 years is a long time for the book to be corrupted and therefore cannot be taken literally.
That kind of logic seems sound and for a long time and I felt unclear about what they really meant. There were and are things in the Bible that when I read them I get uncomfortable and I have a problem with lots of lifestyles and choices of many of the HEROS in scripture.
Over my years as a person that grew up in the church I have had questions about the Bible that I struggled over and often kept silent because I was worried about what others in the church would think about me and my faith.
-- Do ya’ll remember the Movie Stepford wives? It was about a community where families moved to and all the women seemed so perfect. They loved their husbands and no one ever argued. Couples always agreed….well whatever the man said was always right.
While for a moment that might sound like a dream world to a man it was actually a horror film. The general plot was that after moving to the town the wives were replaced with robots.
The story of the Bible is one where the people that have relationships with God are not robots. They do things that are contrary to what God’s relationship expects.
Basically, for many people, the Bible is fine for you but even if there is some good stuff included they don’t want to be told that that they have to or ought to believe it is all true.
Because everyone knows that there is wrong stuff in there. Stuff that we, as enlightened humans, have out grown.
So many in our culture might say that some things in the Bible are right, and some things are wrong, Some things are good and some things are bad. Something’s are historically unreliable, that there are legends in there.. that there are culturally incorrect things that are best left behind….
Let’s take this to an even more delicate level. There are Christian denominations that would say something similar. To be more direct there are even UM members and clergy that you can find in the news that would say something similar.