Will the Bible survive?
The short answer is “Yes.” I have confidence it will.
Not everyone agrees. Here’s a quote from a book I am reading:
the percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is the “actual word of God, to be taken literally, word for word” has declined remarkably: In 1963, 65% believed this, but that figure is now at 32%.
For some, even 65% is disheartening. I have to admit, I’m not excited about 32%.
On the other hand, I read the whole quote. Did you catch it? The question equates belief that “the Bible is the actual word of God” with “taking it literally, word for word.”
Seems pretty obvious to me that the entire Bible is not meant to be taken “literally, word for word.”
When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” (John 6:35) he didn’t mean he was an actual loaf of bread.
In Psalms 17, 31, 36, 57, 61, 63, and others, the psalmist writes of taking shelter under God’s wings. He didn’t mean God is literally a bird!
There are plenty of other references throughout the Bible. I have no need to present an exhaustive list, because it really only takes one to make my point: the Bible is not intended “to be taken literally, word for word.”
But however sure I am the Bible isn’t to be taken literally word for word, I am even more convinced it is the “actual word of God.”
See what I mean?
The Bible will survive. Some of the ways we think about the Bible won’t. That may be a good thing.
Once upon a time, I was handed an egg, two matches, and a paper cup full of water. Since this was early in the morning and I was on a campout which I knew was designed to test some of my skills and adaptability, I knew it was breakfast.
I wouldn’t have guessed one could boil an egg in a paper cup of water, but I did. Then I ate breakfast.
While that morning I was pretty sure what do do with what I was handed, I am often confused, or at least unsure, what to do with what I’m handed.
I mean, of course, things I am handed figuratively more than literally.
I am, like you are, probably, bombarded with claims and memes and “facts” about this or that. Some of them are true, actual, and valid, some of them are not.
What I really wonder, though, when such things are shared, is “What am I supposed to do with this?
You might ask the same thing of me. That’s only fair.
Here’s what I want when I share something with you, or give something to you: a reaction, a response; interaction. What do you think of this? Do you agree? why or why not?
If you have any doubt, please feel free to ask me: “What am I supposed to do with this?”
I read Steve Daugherty’s Experiments in Honesty as my first blogger review book in a long time. What a great choice to get back on that horse with! Full disclosure: I received a free copy of the book based on my promise to blog a review of it. The content of the review is entirely up to me.
The advice offering part of my brain seems more acutely willing to weigh in than it has for many years. There were, of course, the years of early adulthood when, as Mark Twain might have observed, “I still knew everything.” I was eager to dole out advice then.
Though nostalgia and seeing 60 coming on faster than a speed limit have apparently resurrected a propensity in me to offer advice, solicited or not, I have taken Steve Daugherty’s practice in this book under advisement.
In other words, sharing insight drawn from my own experience and observation comes across better than “Ok, now, here’s what I need to teach you: listen up….”
Experiments in Honesty is the opposite of a preaching practice I’ve come to notice lately. Some preachers actually parathensize the phrase “you listen to me here” throughout their messages.
If I’m not already listening to you, telling me to do so will not make me start in the middle of a message.
Daugherty, starts from the other side. This book of full of rich stories plumbed from a hunger and thirst for righteousness. The reader shall be filled, if only he or she follows along.
Perhaps I am struck because I see so much of myself in his stories. When he compares his response to feeling hunger, “I’ll make myself a sandwich” to his wife’s, “I will feed the family, because if I’m hungry they probably are, too.” caught me gently off guard and exactly where it should. Guilty as charged. Yet I wasn’t condemned in my guilt; I was drawn towary this book that is about looking inside. It offers a way to see and understand and grow and recognize that me simply trying to become someone else is the opposite of the point of the gospel.
You’ll find yourself in Experiments in Honesty, and it’ll be a you you want to find, and a you you want to grow. It’ll make you want to know yourself and God better; not because “you better, or else!” but because you are both worth knowing better.