Jacob (yak_boy) wrote,

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Christians V Bibliophiles

The origin of this post was a little argument that flared up over something ultimately rather trivial.
However, what I wanted to write about was the notion that Christians should take on faith the Bible's and/or the Church's teachings.

Okay, the whole taking the teachings on faith thing is a pretty central tenet of most Christian churches, so I'm kind of going out on a limb here.
However, you've got to ask yourself why they emphasise the importance of faithabove all else.
Maybe I'm being cynical, but I think it has a lot to do with wanting the "flock" to stay in line; not to question the authority of the church.

Anyway, what I believe is important to remember is that, despite what you might have heard, the Bible is not the word of God.
The Bible, which is really made up of several different books, was written, not by God (Yahweh) or by Jesus, but by Moses, David, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, etcetera.
Maybe they weren't the most ordinary of people, and many would say they had at least a brush with divinity, but they were only human.
Therefore, putting the Bible on a pedestal and claiming that all that it says is sacred is not honouring God, but yet another example of swallowing someone else's dogma.

In fact, there is much evidence of a struggle between Paul and James about the contents of the "official" Bible, and how the early Christian church (although it wasn't called that then) should be run. James advocated a stronger tie to the rituals and laws of traditional Judaism, Paul wanted to ditch that in order to make the church appeal to the Romans. Paul won.

It is interesting that the future of the church was so shaped by that one particular struggle. If James had won, Christianity would probably be considered a sect of Judaism, and Christians would celebrate Passover, not eat pork and celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday. Indeed, many of the Jewish laws still exist in the modern Christian Bible, including the dietary laws, but most Christians wither ignore or are oblivious to this. If you believe that Jesus intended us to ditch Jewish custom in favour of new Christian customs, then why did Jesus celebrate Passover himself?

Anyway, my point is not to say that we should revert to Jewish ritualism, because I myself partake little in Christian ritualism.
However, I do consider myself a Christian.
How is that so, if I don't take the Bible at face value with blind faith?

Well, the only thing I do take on faith is that God, or some higher, benevolent, spirtual power, exists.
The deification of Jesus is something I take with a grain of salt, which is another reason I won't blindly accept the church's dogma.
However, to me, the message is clear:
"This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12)
That is in essence what Christianity is: following Christ's example and having love and compassion for your fellow human beings.
You don't have to worry about the details of what the Bible says, trying to unravel contradictory laws and teachings.

The Biblical writers had much to say, for instance, about the role of women in church and society.
However, they weren't Jesus, or God, and what they had to say may have been relevent then, but certainly isn't relevant in 2004.
The teachings of Jesus are relevant, and universal.

So, ultimately, my point is:

A Bibliophile is someone who: scrutinises the text of the Bible; screams slogans of hate at homosexuals, because that particular lifestyle is condemned by Leviticus; believes women shouldn't be priests because St Peter thought so; kills abortion doctors because an obscure Biblical passage seems to justify it; believes the war in Iraq is justified because the Old Testament has plenty of stuff about smiting thine enemies; believes the Bible is the irrefutable Word of God.

A Christian is someone who strives to live their life with the peace, love, compassion and tolerance of Christ.

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