If you listened to my first podcast in my series, “Places I’ve Come Across God,” you will know why I have had a certain wariness about the way the Bible is used and who it’s used for and against. You will not be surprised then, that I take exception that it is called the “Word of God.” In this podcast, I will give an account about why it should not be called that.
SEARCHING FOR GOD – Volume 1 – The Bible
This is the topic I am considering: Is the Bible the Word of God? – NO.
In the New Testament there is only one word of God declared, and that is Jesus Christ, and that was done in John’s Gospel in chapter 1 verse 14. That is:
The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, he lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father's only Son.
To add more evidence to my contention that the Bible is not the word of God, Jesus says that when he dies (and completes his resurrection, trip through Hell and Ascension) he will send another aspect of God to help us, to tell us about the truth, what Christians consider the Holy Spirit. This is in chapter 15, verse 26-27. Jesus says,
"The Helper will come - the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God and who comes from the Father. I will send that one to you from the Father, and that one will speak about me. And you, too, will speak about me, because you have been with me from the very beginning.”
And, he says,
“But I am telling you the truth: it is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. But if I do go away, then I will send that one to you. And when that one comes, that one will prove to the people of the world that they are wrong about sin and about what is right and about God's judgment.”
So, paraphrasing Jesus, what he is saying is: you are going to have to figure out for yourself about your relationship with God, the world and even your relationship with your inner self. Someone else cannot really do that for you. But you will have divine help in doing this. So, continuing in Chapter 16, Jesus says why he is telling them and us this. And, he says this, that the people are wrong about sin and about what is right, and about God’s judgment, because they do not know God.
In the part I’ve left out, Jesus’s followers are told that those who follow the old ways, the Laws and the Prophets, who read scriptures and listen to their holy men have not known the Father or Christ! But those who follow him, who will not be allowed in the synagogues know both Christ and the Father better.
In today’s world we can see who does and who does not believe in Christ. For, to believe in Christ is to trust in God, that God will provide, and that God has sent God’s Holy Spirit to inform, guide and encourage us. That in God’s new covenant with us God’s mercy, love and forgiveness are preeminent.
We see people who prove they don’t trust in God, people who trust only in their own judgment, people who gossip, who turn God’s children away into the streets, away from the grace of God thru God’s church. In fact, many churches are no longer God’s but institutions that have abandoned God’s grace and love in favor of money, prosperity, giving units, fear mongering, judgment, and self-righteousness. They have subjugated Jesus’s message of the primacy of God’s love, forgiveness and mercy with Judgment and exclusion from God’s love and mercy and made God’s forgiveness conditional on repentance from sin that is not sin.
Churches have become political battlefields between factions who want to influence the culture with their heresies and blasphemies against the Holy Spirit. So, they abuse the Bible, either purposely or thru blissful ignorance, misinterpreting into the common language from the Greek or Latin.
So, what then is the Bible?
While Paul and Jesus’s disciples were inspired by God, heard God through Jesus or by other means and told others of God’s words, the Bible is solely an instrument sharing these “words” that the disciples’ surrogates relate to its readers. The Bible in and of itself is not the word of God, even as God’s words are a part of the stories. And it doesn’t tell us enough. Jesus admits that he hasn’t said enough! What’s recorded in it is not all there is to be said. Jesus says so in Chapter 16,
"I have much more to tell you, but now it would be too much for you to bear. When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, that one will lead you into all the truth. That one will not speak on his own authority but will speak of what that one hears and will tell you of things to come. That one will give me glory, because that one will take what I say and tell it to you. All that my Father has is mine; that is why I said that the Spirit will take what I give and tell it to you.”
So, it will be the Holy Spirit not the Bible that will guide us. But since the words Jesus and stories of God are also present there, it’ll be good to explore it too, but not just the Bible or even on our own. It’s just not going to be enough. The Holy Spirit will help inform us about the meaning of God’s words that are included not just in the Bible but in other writings, in other stories, in songs and poetry and activities where God speaks and inspires us through the Holy Spirit.
With that all said, let me offer you some thoughts that you may want to consider. It is these:
The Bible is a collection of stories about God in search of humanity even as Human Beings search for the Divine. It is a collection of stories about an ever-evolving relationship between the Divine and Mundane (that’s us).
Even so, the Bible gets used for a lot of reasons. Here’s my 6:
1. to find God. People want to find out if this God is good, has their interests in mind, and/or can lead them to a more fulfilling life.
2. Most Christian pastors consider it the “Word of God.” They can use for rules and regulations and as a recipe for salvation in a world that is black and white.
3. Many Christians consider its words literally. They use it as a rule book, for themselves, but more usually, to judge others.
4. Others consider it inspired by God. They use it as a guidebook.
5. Relatively few, consider the Bible as a political work, even though the Emperor of the Roman Empire, Constantine headed the Council that decided whose works were put into the Canon and whose were left out. (Notice my namesake, Thomas was left out, as were the women whose communities wrote gospels and acts.)
6. Finally, people use, and by use I mean abuse, the Bible to justify their prejudices, skew reality in ways that allow them to commit vile and heinous acts and vilify others not like them. These are chief among, what I call the God Killers, which I’ll speak more about in a follow-up cast.
The Bible isn’t always filled with facts. It does not always tell us the truth. There is much mischief; some things are said in irony, others in sarcasm, others are over the top statements to get us to think. There is even humor and exaggeration. There is anger, sadness, hopelessness, love, hope, mercy, kindness, dramatic and comedic theater, as well as theater of the absurd. There is an entire erasing of a once matriarchal Hebrew society. There is adoption of Accadian, Persian, Babylonian and Greek God, creation and destruction stories. And it is not a good guide to follow as humanity evolves both culturally and spiritually. In fact, the Bible just can’t keep up with us. Abortion, Stem Cell research, space travel, global climactic change, slavery, racism, sexism, family structure, domestic abuse, marriage, divorce, drug abuse, bigamy and pedophilia, just to name a few things. Did you know that the Bible does not require marriage before sex?!
Now to what I’ve concluded: If we build a relationship with God by whatever way we consider a mindful creating behind the multiverse, thru whatever means that works for us, whether it’s Christ, Mohammed, Abraham, nature or some other life affirming and earth respecting means, we can come to experience a Divine guiding spirit that we can learn to trust.
And, just let me say this, too much independent thinking on this God thing is just as debilitating as being a sheep in a mindless flock of tradition. Start your journey with the wheels that already exist before you try to imagine new ones, lest you get side-tracked and never make a good start.
We can find inspiration from and about God just about everywhere, in the little things we encounter each day, just as much as through the big life affecting events. We can learn to not just pay attention to what is going on around us but within us. We can learn to navigate life, not alone, never alone, but with an ever guiding, ever nurturing, ever sustaining, and ever challenging presence that can never be separated from us. So, that’s it.
Thank you for joining me today. Stay safe. And may God continue to bless you.