Monday, April 18, 2016

Dethroning the Bible

I grew up venerating the Bible. I was taught at an early age to read the Bible, memorize the Bible, study the Bible, and always go to the Bible. But the more I did that, the more I realized how much of what I was taught was not, actually, IN the Bible. I mean, look at the story of Satan, jealous of God, fighting a war and falling from heaven. Not in the Bible. There's a couple of verses in Isaiah that are prophetic and can be seen to "refer" to this story, but the story itself is NOT there. Or the concept of Heaven - a place in the sky where we are happy all the time and wear white and worship God all day. Not in the Bible. We are promised time with God, but in the context of a new heaven and a new earth. The Christian prohibition against words like fuck, shit, and damn. Not in the Bible.

My extensive reading and studying of the Bible has always led me to a healthy respect for the complexities and nuances of God's Word. And while I believe it is God's Word, I don't believe it is divinely dictated.

When I recite the ancient creeds of Christianity, I see nothing about a divinely dictated written word. Jesus is the Word of God, but He spent most of his time contradicting the common understandings of Scripture and infuriating the religious experts.

When I see Christians defending divine inspiration and Biblical inerrancy, I usually see them turn around and use those arguments to justify excluding, condemning, and hurting other humans. (Non heterosexuality, women in ministry, premarital sex, yoga practice, divorce, cremation, wearing pants, peeing sitting down, etc.)

This all came to clarity for me this morning as I read the Bible to my 4 year old. A few weeks ago, I said something about Mommy God and she told me "God is a boy."

I don't believe God is gendered. Many Christians don't. I intend to teach my daughter that God transcends gender: that God is both male and female. So I set about teaching her.

I explained to her that while we refer to God as "he," God isn't a boy or a girl. God is God. After all, a river isn't a boy or girl, it's a river. We also call God a rock, and an eagle, so God isn't just a boy. She looked at me, a bit unconvinced.

As a way of countering the endless onslaught of the male pronoun that she is exposed to, I now use the feminine pronoun when referring to God.

So this morning I was reading the first chapter of Samuel. And I simply changed all the divine pronouns to feminine ones. As I did it, I thought, "hmm, am I corrupting Scripture?" And I concluded, I'm not.

Because even though God uses Scripture to change us, and even though the Bible is a vessel of divine transformation, a tool of the Holy Spirit, it is not inerrant. 

God did not dictate the Bible. Men wrote it. And those men, in those times, saw God as MALE. They did not use the male pronoun to refer to both genders, they used it to imply that God is a man. And that is simply not true. How could God divinely inspire a false word?

So there you have it. I'm dethroning the Bible. I worship God: Creator, Redeemer, and Holy Spirit. I don't worship the Bible.

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