Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Bible as I read it

Since I am a college student and the semester has started I have been taking a theology class on the study of the New Testament. One of the assignments for this class is to journal as we read the Bible and grapple with theological question in and out of class. I thought I would post of the entries I make in my journal:


The Theological Question of the class: How do we reconcile the historical qualities of the Bible and our personal faith?
Originally when I came to the Bible I was not a person of faith. Early in high school I studied the Bible, reading most of it on two different occasions. I studied both the old and new testaments as historical works, and viewed them strictly as examples of how oral history changes as it is set down in writing. Only later did I come to the New Testament as a person who believed that Jesus was in fact Christ, and the essences of God made human. Therefore I have always looked at the Bible has being a very historical, very human, text. I interact with it is from a scholarly perspective. The question posed to me therefore is, how do I know what is divinely inspired and actually God’s plan, and how to I distinguish this from what a Jewish scribe two thousand years ago thought? My answer to this question is simply faith. Some parts of the New Testament feel so right and so full of God’s love and grace that I must believe them to be her divine will, although I have no scholarly grounds to base this on. On the other hand some parts of the New Testament, Revelations for instance, I cannot see divine inspiration in because it does not reflect what I have personally experienced God to be. Finally, as a member of the Religious Society of Friends my faith is not Bible based, Instead I rely on a personal understanding of God. Therefore it does not really matter to me weather large parts of the Bible do not reflect Gods plan. I know one day the Bible will be forgotten, but God will always be there.

8 comments:

Lovin' Life Liz said...

What a great journal entry, the last line you wrote,really rang true for me as well. I am looking forward to reading more from you!

Divine Joan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rich in Brooklyn said...

I think this is a wonderful post in that it represents an honest openness to both question and learn from the scriptures.

Two words of caution from a fellow-Quaker who was also once young. (1) Don't take it for granted that the Society of Friends is not "Bible-based". It is and it isn't. Early Friends loved the Bible. They considered it something less than the Source of Truth and something more than just another book. Even their belief that the Bible was not the Word of God came from the Bible itself (which says Christ is the Word of God).
(2)Please don't write off whole books such as Revelation, just because parts of them seem bizarre. I guess my generation could relate a little better to Revelation because it seemed so psychedelic. But surely certain passages in even Revelation are beautiful and true in-and-of-themselves. No less gentle a Quaker than John Woolman loved the book of Revelation. And consider a verse like Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life..
How's that for universalism?

- - Rich Accetta-Evans
Brooklyn Quaker

forrest said...

One gets a different sense of what "inspiration" means if one is a poet. Even the worse poet I ever knew would get up in the middle of the night with a definite sense that she'd been given something she needed to write. And while I found no illumination in the results, I expect she found some in the process.

A 19th Century precursor of the Newage movement wrote that inspiration was a state of mind, not a quality of the product. It might better be called a relation; a person is inspired when his mind is (explicitly or only implicitly) lit up by a connection to God's mind, which manifests in what we call "beauty" (even if we don't always agree on what that looks or sounds like.)

I think I've already tried to get you to http://kwakerskripturestudy.blogspot.com/ (where we were working our way through Revelation with widespread distaste--but I still found the work of seeking meaning in the book worthwhile.)

People try to read the Bible "to find the answers in the back of the book" while its true value is more like the Jewish practice of "Torah study," making an effort to solve the problems!

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