Zombie Scripture and Anthological Fallacy

I recently observed that a friend of mine had appeared to lost his/her faith. And the reason seemed to arise from a gross misunderstanding of Scripture. But that evoked in me a new idea. People get too caught up on every single word in Scripture. It’s basically a “he said, she said” concept of the Bible. One book says this thing, another book may say another. Let’s put aside for a moment that the majority of the contradictions in the Bible are just a bunch of verses taken out of context and deprived of their true meaning. Simply used by people (both people of faith and not of faith) to prove their point, no matter how flawed it may be. I call this “zombie Scripture”, because it’s still Scripture, but it’s soul has been removed and is used as a means of destroying another person’s argument. 

Zombie Scripture plagues both sides of the religious argument. Neither side is right. I’m just as irked by a Christian quoting zombie Scripture as I am about an anti-theist doing it. In fact, I’m more so irked by the Christian doing it. That strikes me as heresy because it’s taking our sacred text and bastardizing it to fit someone else’s agenda. As a result of this, whenever I see Scripture quoted, I promptly open my Bible, or YouVersion, or BibleGateway and put that verse in context, and if I’m still unsure of the true meaning of that verse, I look into the Greek and Hebrew try to find the meaning. Basically, don’t base the decision to continue or discontinue your faith on Scripture that’s been quoted out of context.

Now, it’s time to get to the meat of this post. The part where I talk about the instances where some parts of the Word don’t jive with other parts. Here is a great article to read on this topic:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2013/04/12/how-the-bible-is-gods-word-questions-that-haunt/

Take into consideration the fact that the Bible is not a single book. It’s an anthology of books and letters and poetry and stories and other splendid literature. It comes from many sources. It assumes many biases and then it undergoes translation. There are bound to be inconsistencies. But, that’s not because it’s errant, it’s because it’s written by humans who bore witness to God’s work. If you and I saw the same thing and wrote about it from our different perspectives, and then, thousands of years later, after English has either changed or became unused, someone translated it, wouldn’t there be things in our accounts that differ greatly? Maybe I’ve got a hearing and sight impairment and you have 20/10 vision (it’s a thing) and can hear a pin drop in a noisy room. There are too many factors to try and account for to dismiss the Bible over a few inconsistencies in the text. I call it “anthological fallacy” because it’s illogical to say that an anthology is incredible because the various books by different authors contain information that doesn’t match exactly.

The Bible is a text that is great for learning about Jesus’ teachings and His followers and it’s full of beautiful imagery, and it’s even a great historical text to study. But, you should not base your faith solely on the Bible. That’s borderline idolatry. You base your faith on Jesus the Christ and the Lord God Almighty. You base your faith on Love and brokenness and forgiveness. If you lose your faith because of a few off words or verses in the Bible, you never truly believed in this great story in the first place.

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God Kind of Sucks

In the wake of the Boston bombings and the smattering of other tragedies in the world, all I can think is that God kind of sucks… Not because He allows this to happen. No, there’s another reason entirely. He sucks because He’s calling me to forgive all of these people that have murdered masses of people. Really? I have to forgive the person/people who mauled over 200 people? I have to forgive the evil person who shot up a kindergarten? I have to forgive the guy who stabbed my friend to death? I have to forgive all of these people who have done all of these things? Why? Two reasons: Love and imperfection.

Love.

We have to forgive because we are forgiven. We have to love because we are loved. We have to forgive because we are forgiven because we are loved… In Colossians 3:13, it says “Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (NLT)” In other translations, it says to forgive ask quickly and completely as He forgave us.

“But, that douchebag just cut out in front of me and ruined my brand new car!”

Doesn’t matter. You have to forgive him completely because God has forgiven you for some pretty bad stuff. Sucks, doesn’t it? I have to forgive Adam Lanza because I’ve screwed up a lot, too.

“Wait a minute! He killed people, that’s much worse than anything I’ve done.”

Imperfection.

We must also forgive because we are also imperfect. Even though the things that you’ve done may not be as bad as killing someone, the punishment of all unforgiven sin, regardless of severity, is the same.

Romans 3:23 (ESV) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

There you have it. We all messed up. This imperfection that we all share is a connection that we share. It’s one of the few things that everyone in the world has in common. It’s kind of like the DNA that we all share as God’s family on Earth. It’s what makes us brothers and sisters. Now, luckily, as I said earlier, we have been forgiven, so we don’t have to suffer the consequences of our sin. But, it’s our imperfection that gives us no room to NOT forgive people on top of our being forgiven. If someone were perfect, one could argue that they wouldn’t have to forgive anyone of anything because they’ve done nothing wrong. But, a perfect person would forgive regardless because that’s the good thing to do.

Yeah, so God sucks. Not really. We suck, actually. We perceive God as awful because we’re awful. It sucks to forgive people because we’re bad people who like to hold grudges and blackmail each other. So, when God calls us to forgive, we think that He sucks for asking us to do something that seems unfair. But, it’s totally fair. If God can forgive me for the stupid things I’ve done, I should be able to do the same for others. So, no, God doesn’t suck. God is good. And He forgives, so forgiveness is good. It’s us who are messed up and have trouble doing the good things that God wants us to do.