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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 ...

MrsWolowitz Thu 01-Aug-13 19:00:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 19:13:59

What do you mean by in context Fleshwound?

Itsjustafleshwound Thu 01-Aug-13 19:35:41

Look at the history, the politics the soceity at the time.

Also translations lend themselves to all sorts of interpretations

RoLoh Thu 01-Aug-13 19:49:18

Ah I see what you mean. But see that's what I'm getting at. Because it was written in a different time and culture we're now having to try and interpret some of it for modern life. And that means there is no one clear message because it means something different to everyone.

Maybe they should have provided Cliff Notes smile

Itsjustafleshwound Thu 01-Aug-13 20:03:43

Yes - its called Hebrew and Greek grin

Wouldn't it be boring if everything was so cut and dried.

tabulahrasa Thu 01-Aug-13 20:17:30

Everyone interprets it differently because that's what people do, they process information through their own ideas and experiences.

If you did away with the bible or updated it - people would still interpret things differently. You'd then just have another layer of interpretation added in.

Tuo Fri 02-Aug-13 00:22:28

This is a really interesting thread. Thanks for starting it, RoLoh.

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.

It seems to me that part of the problem here is that you are mixing up the Bible, translations of the Bible, and the ways in which the Bible has been and is interpreted.

Different denominations within Christianity do not, with minor exceptions, have their own versions of the Bible (there are some books in the Catholic Bible which are not considered canonical for Protestants, but basically the text is what it is). They do, however, use different translations (which may subtly alter the meaning of some passages), and they certainly do interpret the Bible differently.

Translations are important because they make the text accessible, and interpretations are important because they open up the meaning of a text, but what is really important is the text itself, the story it tells, which (even if you don't take all of it literally, as I certainly don't) tells the story of God's relationship with humankind, and - most centrally and vitally - of God's intervention on behalf of humankind in the human and divine person of Jesus Christ. And however the text is interpreted, whether taken as true in every particular, or as basically allegorical, that story lies absolutely at the heart of what Christians believe. Which is why the Bible, for all the debates and problems of interpretations it raises, cannot be deemed irrelevant or rewritten in a more 'modern' vein.

Because it was written in a different time and culture we're now having to try and interpret some of it for modern life. And that means there is no one clear message because it means something different to everyone.

But I think that there are some (not just one, admittedly) really clear messages which are for all time, and which can be interpreted for our time and place, but which are so strikingly simple in their essence as to be open to no real confusion. And on the moral level (which seems to be above all what you're interested in) there are two simple rules to follow: love God, and love one another. Everything else follows from that. The trick is to see how that works for us in our lives, and the parables of the Bible may be removed from us in time and culture, but they serve to illustrate some of what it means to love God and our neighbours, examples that, of course, we can supplement with our own examples from our own time: the Bible is, of course, not the only source of such examples, but it's a starting point that prompts further reflection.

Maybe they should have provided Cliff Notes gringringrin

zulubump Fri 02-Aug-13 09:57:09

This is an interesting thread and some good questions. I've never been the greatest fan of the Bible and have had a few moans to God about why He's given us this book that is so confusing. But having said that I've come to think of it as the best thing we have when it comes to understanding God and our relationship with him. It may be baffling in places and scary, but also awesome an amazing. And maybe that reflects our relationship with God?

I think any attempts to rewrite it to improve (eg make it more up-to-date, consistent etc) would probably introduce more confusion. No one would agree on what bits to change, leave out! I think it's a good as it's going to get! So I've had a bit of an attitude change in the last year with regards to the Bible. Instead of wanting to throw it across the room each time I pick it up, I have, with help from friends and some Philip Yancey books, come to find a lot worth reading in the Bible. Hope you can too RoLoh.

DryCounty79 Tue 06-Aug-13 15:12:39

The answer I was always given to that question was 'It's God's word, you can't update God'.

Not saying that's true or false, it's just what I was told smile

syl1985 Thu 22-Aug-13 02:54:53

An interesting question.

I'm reading the bible, but I haven't read yet every book in it.

There's a lot of bad stuff in it.
And it's also dangerous. If people just interpret it the way they like it... Horrible things could come from that. All in the name of God.

The old testament:
There're some nice stories in their and rules people in those days had to live by.
Also horrible stories like God destroying cities. There also is the flood and everyone drowned except Noah, his family and all the animals on board of the arc.
God seems to be a God that is fed up with us humans.

Then the new testament:
Jesus is born and the first 4 books are all about his life.

In a nutshell:
He's and talks all about loving each other. He heals people. He talks about his loving father.

He comes across like a nice relaxed hippy.
Relax, don't worry, just be happy. Don't judge each other.
Love, peace and fuck the rules.

Let's go and heal people on a Sunday and get into trouble with the pharisees.

Ever heard the song: Lord of the dance?
I love it. It's in short what Jesus did.

Then the next books are (the ones I've read) more about opinions from the apostles that wrote the new testament.

Somewhere one wrote that you shouldn't be gay. One writes about his celibate life.
Then there're some letters being send to groups of Christians about some issues they had.

Personally I think everyone should read and believe what they want. But with the bible it's been so often abused to control people.

Not only in the past with the witch hunts and the crusades.
Think about the violence against gay people. Jehova witnesses who let their children die early because they don't take blood. Not that long ago unmarried mothers who's babies got taken away from them. Only because they weren't married.
The wars that are about religion.

My opinion:
Let's get rid of all these books and only have the 1st 4 books of the new testament, the Gospels.

Let's just follow Jesus. Like he said:
John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Let's stick to the golden rule:
Luke 6:31
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

I'm a follower of Jesus. Like he said he's the one and only way. I think if people would just read the books and not read what they want to read. Then it's quite clear that the only real important books are the Gospels.

Everyone can have his/her own opinion.
But then also respect others opinions and don't go judging or on other ways hurting other people, because they are or think differently about religion then you do.

cheeseandchive Thu 05-Sep-13 10:20:21

But if you get rid of the rest of the books and just keep the gospels, styl, then we have no idea of the context into which Jesus came. And that is so important in understanding who he is and what his message was.

The Old Testament shows us that people who used to follow God constantly had to make atonement (or pardon) for their sin. Animal sacrifice, ritual washing and cleansing, approaching God only through a prophet to name a few. The incredible thing about Jesus, and why his message was so radical (and why he was so hated by the pharisees) is that he came to show people that forgiveness from and relationship with God could be known through belief in himself. Not only that, but it was available to all people. Where previously only the educated men who were highly legalistic and kept to the letter of the law were truly considered holy, Jesus showed that relationship with God was available to the diseased and the sinful and the wayward and that, now, none of it was based on the efforts of the individual (as in the Old Testament) but on what Jesus did.

HoneyandRum Fri 20-Sep-13 09:10:01

RoLoh, you are mistaken that women have no leadership in the Catholic Church. We do have an all male priesthood but that is because we don't see the priesthood as a "job". Holy Orders is a sacrament where the priest is standing in the place of Christ and is a servant to the people, they give up everything including marriage and children (most, there are some exceptions such as Eastern Orthodox Catholics and now the Ordinariates) to serve Christ. If you know anything about the Vatican you will know that about 40% of the workforce is female (in leadership positions) and increasing. The Church itself is female it is the Bride of Christ. Also Catholic Church history is teeming with female saints who were leaders, began new orders or brought renewal, as well as being workers, wives and mothers.

We have a number of Doctors of the Church who are recognized as great spiritual leaders, among them are women such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena. Many female Catholics have lived radical lives for the church. 20th century examples include:
Dorothy Day who started the Catholic Worker Movement, she was a single mother and had an abortion before her conversion.
Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) great Jewish intellectual who converted and became a nun. She was martyred in the gas chambers.
Mother Teresa - born in Albania, became a nun and then began a New Order of religious sisters serving the poorest of the poor in India.

Of course there is our devotion to Our Blessed Mother, Mary, a young teenage girl who was asked to be the mother of God and accepted. She was the first Christian and our model in the Christian life for both men and women (many Catholic men called Mario). She was with Jesus at every stage of his life including his ministry, at the foot of the cross, the resurrection and in the upper room with the apostles for the descent of the Holy Spirit (of course she was the only human being who had been filled with the Holy Spirit earlier when Jesus was conceived).

Also we do not freely interpret scripture willy-nilly, this is a Protestant invention. That's why there are 30,000 Protestant denominations and only one Catholic Church. (Catholic means universal). The Church was created before the New Testment, if you know your Christian history you will know that the New Testament was compiled from holy writings about 200 years after Jesus returned to heaven. Who had the authority to compile it and call these books sacred? The Catholic Church. The Church that put the New Testament scriptures together believes it has the finally authority in interpreting them.

MaryBS Fri 20-Sep-13 13:05:00

I've come into this late, but I can't help laughing at the "fact" you say that Catholics don't interpret the scriptures willy-nilly, then go on to say that Mary was the first Christian grin - can you point out where it says this in the bible? Christianity didn't exist as a religion till later.

( I say this as the black sheep of an RC family, who left the RCC to join the Anglican Church, which is not Protestant)

HoneyandRum Sat 21-Sep-13 00:38:08

MaryBS if you are familiar with Catholicism you will know that Catholics do not believe in Martin Luther's theory of Sola Scriptura (Latin for "scripture alone"). We believe in written tradition (the bible) combined with the oral teaching tradition passed onto us by the apostles, Apostolic Tradition together with the teaching authority of the Church's magisterium. Since the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles the church has always taught that Mary was the first disciple. She was immediately recognized by the Jewish disciples as the living Ark of the Covenant, where God dwelt amongst his people. Jesus first came to us not at his Nativity but at the Annunication - with Mary's cooperation and willing consent Jesus comes into the world. Mary is the most perfect embodiment of faithful obedience to God. After the visit from Gabriel she was filled with the Holy Spirit and from that point onwards her life is filled with miracles and prophesies about who this child is - she knows who he is, I am surprised you can seriously suggest otherwise.

When he is presented at the temple both Simeon and Anna recognize who Jesus is and prophesy. When Mary and Joseph are warned by an angel to flee to Egypt while every baby boy in their neighborhood is brutally murdered by Herod's men that might have been another clue. She knew her scriptures and all the fulfillment of them that was unfolding in her life.

And Mary said "My soul proclaims the greatness of The Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed ....He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love - according to the promise he made to our ancestors - of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever" Luke 1:46-48, 54-55

Are these the words of a woman who has no idea who she has conceived?

MaryBS Sat 21-Sep-13 15:49:53

I'm very familiar with Catholicism, but you still haven't answered my question about Mary being the first Christian. I'm not disputing what you've written in response, but Mary herself I am sure would call herself a Jew.

MaryBS Sat 21-Sep-13 15:51:10

In other words you've not listened and completely ignored what I was querying.

alemci Sat 21-Sep-13 16:51:31

if you read the bible you learn more about Jesus who is the reason for being a christian. yes some things are of the culture but alot of it's teaching makes sense. I still struggle with my faith but the bible is there as comfort at times and mumsnet of course smile smile

BoffinMum Sat 21-Sep-13 16:53:58

It's a kind of encyclopaedia of human existence. If you delve a bit.

alemci Sat 21-Sep-13 16:57:53

I don't think of Mary Jesus's mother as the first Christian as Christian s came along as a result of Jesus's death and resurrection I believe.

imo she was a jew following and trusting God like her predecessors such as David, Moses, Abraham. fascinating that Joseph was a descendant of king David and Matthew outlines his lineage , 12 generations I think.

HoneyandRum Sat 21-Sep-13 21:54:55

And Mary was present at Jesus's death and resurrection. I did not say she would call herself a Christian, I said the Catholic Church considers her to be the first disciple and therefore the first Christian. I also explained that our understanding of who she is was taught to us by the apostles and all early Christians, continuing until the present day.

She was indeed a devout Jew but also had unique experiences never repeated before or since as the woman chosen to be the mother of God, scripture was fulfilled in her.

An interesting thread!

As we know the Bible is not a book like a novel that you can pick up and read to the end and say "Now that was a good yarn". It is collection of different kinds of writings: creation stories, history, law, prophecy, poetry, psalms, gospels etc.

alemci Sat 21-Sep-13 22:14:26

I tend to vere more towards martin Luther's take on scripture. I think too much importance is placed on Mary over Jesus, also purgatory is definitely not biblical

HoneyandRum Sat 21-Sep-13 22:37:03

In this thread I mentioned Mary because women in the bible were discussed. For Jesus to be fully man and fully divine he chose to be born of a human mother. We therefore always have love and for Mary as the mother of our Saviour, we are now brothers and sisters of Christ and therefore enter into relationship with Jesus and by extension his family.

Purgatory is the teaching of the church in response to Scripture which speaks of a cleansing fire. "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead that they might be delivered from their sin". 2 Macc 12:46.

"All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven" Catechism of the Catholic Church 1030

Could you please show me in scripture the teaching of Sola Scriptura?

HoneyandRum Sat 21-Sep-13 22:45:08

The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart - Martin Luther

alemci Sat 21-Sep-13 22:49:27

I meant I would trust in scripture and the bible. I thought that is what luther meant. he was fed up with the corruption of the established church and the way people thought you could buy salvation. I would tend to follow Jesus's teaching rather than adding in man made ideas such as purgatory and following his john 32, I am the way, truth and life etc.

what about john the baptist, Elizabeth and joseph who also played important roles.

people like john tyndale were brave translating the bible into english for the common man rather than it being in latin.

very difficult as we all have different takes.

for me it is acknowledging jesus as my lord and saviour

EugenesAxe Sat 21-Sep-13 22:52:42

No way... agreed that parts of the Bible are 'dated' in that they are written by people ignorant of things we know today. BUT there are huge great tracts of verses and stories that speak to me and many others in ways that are still relevant to our lives today.

Wow... just imaging life without the Bible is freaky. It's such a powerful and uplifting text.

syl1985 has a point about it being dangerous in the wrong hands though... like those people in the US that think it's OK to beat children because Jesus said 'Suffer little children to come unto me'. But I think ignorant and nasty people will find a way to justify their actions with whatever's available.

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