Why do Christian religions still use the Bible?

(55 Posts)
RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 09:28:59

I read a lot of posts on MN that say the Bible shouldn't be taken literally and is about interpretation.

I'm wondering why any religions still bother with it? It's full of the racist, bigoted, sexist views of men who lived in a completely different time and culture. Surely in this day and age it is somewhat redundant, especially since it's so questionable that it needs to be 'interpreted'.

All Christians know the fundamentals of their religion, i.e. being kind and thoughtful and charitable etc. We don't need passages from the bible to tell us this. Why do we need those parables? Why not use examples from modern life?

Anyway, just a thought. Would be interested to know yours ...

niminypiminy Thu 01-Aug-13 11:25:38

I think you will find that the Bible is full of all sorts of things if you read it. Some of them might strike you as racist and sexist and bigoted. Some of them might strike you as puzzling and incomprehensible. Some if them might strike you as beautiful and true.

Christians need the Bible because it is the fundamental of our faith. Our faith is not about being nice (though that's obviously a good thing in itself, and anyone can and should try it), our faith is about following Jesus. The Bible tells us about him. The Bible is the book that tells us about the three-in-one God -- God the father, God the son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. The Bible is the source of our knowledge about our faith.

Of course it was written in a different time and place. But although human knowledge may have increased in the last two thousand years, it's questionable whether human wisdom has. If you read the Bible, really read it, not just quote-mine it for racism, sexism and bigotry, you may find that there is more that is wise and beautiful and true in there than you thought, and that those long ago people could see some things very clearly indeed -- perhaps more clearly than we can.

RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 12:24:42

I get that the bible contains lots of positive stuff as well as negative. I did read it when I was a kid though I honestly couldn't quote any of it now.

But why do we have to follow the teachings of a book that has so many outdated ideas? In a sense the Bible itself is just an interpretation of the story and teachings of Jesus as it was written well after Jesus' lifetime. And let's face it, those people who follow the Bible to the letter are often a bit scary smile

Maybe the Pope should write a new one with some modern thinking and examples of modern miracles and good deeds/bad deeds. It would certainly help to bring young people to the church.

I'm not questioning religion or Christianity btw I'm just wondering why the bible is still needed.

ProudNeathGirl Thu 01-Aug-13 12:31:06

Roloh - give an example of something you think is outdated.

Sounds like you need to read the bible yourself if you think that the fundamentals of Christianity are being kind and thoughtful!

(Not posting as a Christian, but as someone who loves the community feeling brought on by a good church service with a nice hymn or two).

niminypiminy Thu 01-Aug-13 12:39:41

Perhaps you might like to take a look at The Message, which is the Bible retold in contemporary street language. Some of it is really powerful stuff.

But the problem I have with what you're saying is the idea that we can only find things to value in stuff written today, and that reflects today's values. We need to interpret the Bible in the light of today, not throw it out and start again! The gospels may be an interpretation of Jesus's life and teaching, but we have nothing that is closer to the actual events. And because it's vital for Christians that Jesus really existed , was crucified and came back to life, these are precious documents, vital sources of truth and inspiration.

And yes, I agree, people who take the Bible absolutely literally are a bit scary!

The Bible has to be read in context.
The Old testament is about man and God's relationship
The New Testament is about renewal and spreading of the Gospel

When you are confirmed, there is no pledge to read and follow the Bible to the letter - the Bibles used by the JWs is different

crescentmoon Thu 01-Aug-13 13:13:11

"But although human knowledge may have increased in the last two thousand years, it's questionable whether human wisdom has."

tell it sister! - uh hum.... wink

crescentmoon Thu 01-Aug-13 13:21:40

(sorry hope i didnt kill the thread!)

confuddledDOTcom Thu 01-Aug-13 14:16:42

Context really is key. Take the whole "hats" issue. You need to look at the situation in Corinth, Roman women wore their hair elaborate and high, it was a sign of their wealth, the higher and more elaborate the richer they were. It was about making people look at you and showing off. It's not a good attitude to be taking into church for worship so they were being told to cover it. Apply that to today, it's about going into church to worship, not to show off your wealth or draw attention to yourself.

There's a flip side to it too that the local priestesses would have shaven heads and prostitute themselves on the altar, so a shaven head was shameful so they would definitely cover up.

All through the Bible are similar contexts that mean more when you understand them, a lot of jokes that we don't get the meaning to, some words that didn't translate well and lost the meaning. My uncle read the Greek and Hebrew original languages so I get a lot of stories! The OT is a lot of the Jewish legal system and history, it's not supposed to be rules for the Christian to live by.

RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 14:56:26

I know that Christianity is about more than just being a good person, but that's the only real message I choose to take away from the bible personally. Also, most of the stuff they read out in church from the Bible is about being kind to your fellow man so that's always seemed to me to be a fundamental part of being a Christian.

I appreciate the Bible in that it's an ancient text and don't think it should be discarded. But it's outdated ideas on women and sexuality among other things have clearly had an impact on religion and society as we know it today. Largely due to the interpretations of it by those who had/have ulterior motives. So perhaps a modern text would be an appropriate addition that would provide a clearer message and a more inclusive outlook.

I do often wish that religion in general didn't come with all the negative baggage.

Anthracite Thu 01-Aug-13 14:58:39

Christianity is a revealed faith - through the bible, primarily, but also creation.

How can it not use the bible???

Anthracite Thu 01-Aug-13 15:03:48

Roloh, women are highly revered in the bible.

I recommend you do a study of women in the bible, starting with Eve, then Rahab, and be pleasantly surprised.

My three DDs are named after bible heroines, and I hope they live up to their strong namesakes.

Just like today, we all know that it is women who run the church.

RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 15:06:11

Niminy - out of interest did you read the bible then become a Christian or were you brought up a Christian and then read the Bible?

I don't think faith comes from a book. Maybe the bible explains where Christianity is rooted and the story of Jesus. And it provides some handy guidelines about how to be decent people. But really it's just supporting materials. You don't need to have read it to have faith

RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 15:11:20

Anthracite, that may be true but it's funny how that has been conveniently ignored by the church until very recently.

confuddledDOTcom Thu 01-Aug-13 15:22:17

I think a lot of what we think it says about women is in the interpretation. One of the most important church leaders in the NT was a woman and is always listed before her husband and there are plenty of other examples of women leaders.

A good example of a missing word is:

Cor 14.33-36:

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 36 Did the word of God originate with you?

In the original it's more like

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." 36 What? Did the word of God originate with you?

He was quoting someone else and uses a word they couldn't translate to express his disbelief. There is no such Law that women shouldn't speak and it doesn't fit with anything else that Paul says:

"everyone has a hymn, teaching, revelation, tongue, interpretation" (26), "if anyone speaks..." (vs. 27), "for you can ALL prophesy in turn..." (vs. 31). He doesn't say that the gifts are just given for men, he always uses the same inclusive language.

There are people who understand it far better than me who've written loads on the topic, so I can't possibly attempt to do it any justice here.

FloJo151 Thu 01-Aug-13 15:29:28

A christian man from wales (this is some years ago) felt that God was calling him to be a missionary in South Korea (not known for its kindness to Christian's!!) so he collected lots of bibles and headed off. When he got there he was killed. the people who killed him took the bibles, ripped out the pages and wallpapered their houses with it. some years later these same people came over to wales to pay respects to the country who had sent the man with the bibles. the same men who had killed him and wallpapered their houses with the bibles had then started to read the pages from the bible and God revealed himself to them and as a direct result of reading the bible they became Christians themselves.

If the bible is totally irrelevant and just 'supporting' materials how is it that these men (who originally hated Christianity) became Christians and had that faith just from reading the bible?

Your right in a sense that faith doesn't come from a book but that doesn't mean it cant be the instigater to that faith.
there are other stories too of people who set out trying to disprove God and read the bible in order to do this and because of reading the bible they then became Christians

confuddledDOTcom Thu 01-Aug-13 15:34:29

Lee Strobel is a good example of that Flo, he was an atheist reporter who set out to write a book disproving Easter, what was published was a book by a Christian proving Easter. There's a scientist on his site who read the Bible after he qualified and became a Christian and now gives talks about science and the Bible.

Anthracite Thu 01-Aug-13 17:05:28

Really? I don't think women have ever been ignored by the church.

It might be a convenient viewpoint of those outside the church but one that is not true.

RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 17:11:17

I'm not saying the bible is irrelevant. And I'm sure it is possible to read it and discover faith. I guess everyone needs something different.

I think I've strayed a bit from my original question. What I was thinking was, if the bible is interpreted differently by everyone, with some people leaving out key parts for their own purposes as written above, then surely it is rendered somewhat irrelevant. And to my mind it makes it untrustworthy. This is presumably why there are so many different factions of Christianity. Each has decided on their own special version of the bible.

Henry the Eighth didn't help of course by setting a precedent for that grin

confuddledDOTcom Thu 01-Aug-13 17:17:42

Anthracite, I think it is visible in some places within the church where women are not allowed to take a role. It's certainly not Biblical and it's not something I've grown up with, I was speaking in church from the age of 7, I remember my granddad (our minister) holding me on the chair so I could see over the lectern.

RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 17:50:51

Sure, women are welcome to arrange the flowers, do the church admin, make the community tea and coffee after the service, write the church newsletter, etc. But it's taken until recently for women to be recognised as leaders within the church, and that's just CofE. If you're a Catholic, forget it.

RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 18:02:01

I just realised I contradicted myself back there. Sorry about that.
What I meant to say is that while I don't think the bible is irrelevant, I do think that the fact it is so open to different interpretations means it's not perhaps the most reliable thing to base a cohesive peaceful religion on.

Thanks for all your replies by the way. I do enjoy a friendly debate.

Anthracite Thu 01-Aug-13 18:20:11

I was thinking more pastoral care and mission

But the whole rhing about the Bible was that it is a retrospective book and was translated where the translation did not do any favours to its accuracy.

an example

Just because something isn't accurate it doesn't really make it irrelevant.

Christianity (for me) is more than just what a book says - it has to be read in context

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