Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Bible vs Beliefs

Do you use your own version of the Bible?

By that I mean, does your version of the Bible say exactly what you want it to, fit your own ideology and beliefs?

If you are a fan of Conservapedia, soon this dream may come true! There has been a news story making the rounds the past few days about the conservative website Conservapedia attempting to create a new Bible translation with the 'liberal bias' stripped from it.

No really.

Here's one of the many dozens of articles about this,

Or you could check out Conservapedia's site about it if you'd like.

They list 10 things they are hoping this project will accomplish, including:

  • Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias 
  • Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
  • Not Dumbed Down: not "dumbing-down" the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity
  • Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop
  • Express Free Market Parables: explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  • Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
Now, there is obviously a whole heap of ways to go about this concept. Arguing against these concepts, arguing for some of these concepts, etc etc.

But when I was reading about it, I thought to myself, "Isn't that what we all do anyway?"

I mean honestly.

Most times, we read the Bible, and we read into it what we want to get out of it. The Bible most often reinforces or encourages our pre-existing beliefs or convictions. We find ourselves comforted that our ideas are not crazy, I mean here they are right in the Bible! And what do we do with the parts that we don't harmonize with perfectly?


I think we either explain them away, we focus elsewhere, we ignore them entirely, or we focus on an alternate understanding.

It's as if we all have our own version of the Bible, which says exactly what we want it to say, how we want it to say it, presents our own ideology perfectly and gives us credibility in our preconceived beliefs.

You can take several people, have them read the exact same passage of scripture and you will end up with several different versions of what people think it really "means." This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I believe that proper interpretation requires groups of people, and that scripture was specifically created with community interaction/interpretation in mind. But it shows that in most cases, what the Bible really says about something is what we make it say.

I think the 'bad thing' is when we take our own personal interpretation of a passage or concept and assume that is the correct way to interpret it, and everyone else's interpretation is wrong.

I happen to think that the Bible should be constantly challenging us to mold our perceptions, interpretations, beliefs, etc to be more in line with God.

Think about it, how often are your beliefs challenged by what you read in the Bible?

Do we ever say, "You know, I really don't believe that" when we read certain things in the Bible?

I think that if we're honest with ourselves, we say it all the time.

We usually say it to ourselves, or we say it by the parts of the Bible we read and the parts we ignore, or the parts that we live out in our lives, and the parts that we do not.

I know that I am being constantly challenged to change many things about what I believe in a variety of ways from what I formerly believed due to what I read in the Bible.

Have you ever read something in the Bible that challenged your own beliefs?