I've struggled with my faith for years, unsure of what I believe. It seems there are so many different views of God and spirituality, so many different religions, and even more differences within the same religion. People interpret the bible in so many different ways. How can someone like me ever possibly get a grasp on God? How can I know truth? Is knowing all the answers important? If not, what is?
I am a jumble of confusion, honestly. But I have
come back to the Christian tradition and find that it does provide
answers to the most important questions. Someday I will have to visit
my former pastor and tell him he was right. I did come back to
Christianity. When I left, I didn't think I would.
past year, I've listened to many sermons, had many conversations, and
read some books that have started to give me a little more insight into
the Bible. The Bible is a difficult text to interpret. Much
of the confusion and misinterpretation comes when we look at the Bible
with our worldview and assume passages mean certain things that the
writers of the Bible would never have even thought of. Our worldview is
so different, and we don't even realize that it is shaping our
understanding of the text as we read it. The huge difference in time,
geographic location, culture, and language means the writers of the
texts which eventually formed what we call the Bible had a radically
It seems the important thing is not what we think a text means, but what the writers were trying to convey.
you are wondering how a worldview could be so different that a written
text would convey almost the opposite of what it looks like it is
conveying. But think about how language evolves over time, even within
the same culture. For example, when I was a kid, the phrase "Oh, that
is sick!" meant that something was really disgusting. Now, it seems to
mean something is really awesome. I've also started hearing people just
a few years younger than me use the word epic to mean awesome, which is
not a definition that I am used to. Obviously, the words disgusting and awesome mean
quite different things. And this is only a change from a few years ago,
and from within the same culture. Multiply that by 2000 years.
example, from Marcus Borg's book Reading the Bible Again for the First
Time, is the term golden arches. Now, everyone living in the US
probably knows that term is referring to McDonald's, but who would know
that 2000 years ago? Or 2000 years in the future? No one. So could
there possibly be terms like that in the Bible, references to places, or
perhaps people or events, that we don't have a clue about?
think of all the cultural differences today. You could do something
that seems completely normal to you and totally insult someone else. Did
you know it's insulting to tip the waitstaff in some European
countries? In that country, tipping someone would convey a completely
different message than it would here in the US.
learned a lot over the past year, I also feel like I've just
scratched the very tip of a huge iceberg. The task of studying and
understanding the Bible seems pretty overwhelming. Is it even worth
it? For now, I'm saying yes. For some reason, I have a huge desire to
learn more, so I'm jumping in. I know almost nothing, but I'm going to
share the few bits and pieces that I've learned anyway, and hope that
perhaps it will be of interest to someone somewhere. Please let me know
if it is to you, and feel free to comment on my posts.
Some of the topics I
would like to cover are:
*Heaven and Hell references in the Bible - What were they really talking about?
*Turn the other cheek - Was Jesus a pacifist?
*Paul's views on women
*The function of ancient myths in the Old Testament
*Jewish perspective on slavery
*Apocalyptic literature in the Bible
*Importance of the virgin birth story - What does it really mean?
*Differences between the Hebrew and English languages and how they impact translation and interpretation
thanks to my pastor who has read a gazillion theology books and knows just about everything (ok, just kidding, I'm sure there's one or two things
he doesn't know) and has helped me so much this past year. Hopefully, I
won't totally botch these topics.