19 May 2006

"It Ain't Necessarily So"

Since I've begun to share my opinions on Christianity beyond this website, I've begun to be accused of "picking and choosing" portions of the Bible to support my particular beliefs. It's absolutely true! Fundamentalist Christian "ministers" do this all the time. They just do it in the wrong way.

Everybody should pick and choose which portions of the Bible they take to heart. Not everything you read in the Bible is good. Not everything you read in the Bible is literal. Not everything you read in the Bible is Christian! The Bible has prejudice in it, particularly against women and Gay people. It has contradictions(for instance, there are two distinctly different versions of the way Judas Iscariot died in the New Testament). It has a lot of symbolism. It's an historical document, but keep in mind that historical accounts can vary depending on who tells them.

The Bible quotes from the law of men, and it quotes from the law of God. Jesus Christ told us that it's important not to confuse the two. Let me state once more how to avoid confusion, because I can't say it enough: Ask yourself what Jesus Christ would say! Ask yourself what He would do. Study the life of Christ and consider His example. Whatever contradicts His example is man's law. You can count on it! Fortunately, we have four (and if you consider the Gnostic Gospels, more) different accounts of Christ's life to study and compare. For this reason alone, the Gospels are more credible than the other books of the Bible.

In 1935, George Gerswin wrote a song for his musical Porgy and Bess called "It Ain't Necessarily So." The first lines of the song go like this: The things that you're liable/To read in the Bible/It ain't necessarily so. Now, this is a comic number that wasn't meant to be taken seriously, but that one lyric couldn't be more true! The things that humans say, the things that humans write, no matter what the context . . . it ain't necessarily so!

Humans lie. Humans distort. Humans misinterpret. Humans misspeak, sometimes by accident and sometimes deliberately. Prophets and ministers of faith are human. None of them are infallible, not even highly respected ones like Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King. No, not even the apostles in the Bible! You read repeatedly in the New Testament how they fell short of the Lord's expectations of them. You can't always trust their judgment. You can't always trust your own judgment. You can't always trust my judgement, either! But you don't have to, when you have Christ's example to guide you.

Some people panic at the very thought of not believing everything they read in the Bible. There's no need for panic! Calm down, sugar! If all copies of the Bible disappeared off the face of the Earth one day, God would still be here. Trust in God. Ask Him to direct you when you have questions about how to proceed in life.

After all, isn't Christianity supposed to be a faith? Where does faith enter the picture if you can run to the pages of a book for all your answers?

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