When I was a kid, I loved reading the Old Testament. It had more stories. More action. The book of Judges in particular was one of my favourites because of its collection of short stories about bloody battles, daring escapes, and intrigue. As much as I loved my Bible and loved my god–that is, to the point of constantly trying to change myself into someone more “pleasing” to both–some of the things God commanded (particularly in the Old Testament) never sat well with me. For example, he told the Jews, who were in the process of invading their “promised land” according to God’s instructions, to kill all the men, women, and children of a particular nation. When giving Moses the law, many infractions were punishable by death. Somehow this same violent God inspires the prophet Jonah to describe him as being “slow to anger and abounding in love.”
King David spent many many hours studying God’s laws and commands, and frequently went into raptures about God’s love and compassion and kindness.
Can this truly be the same God? Is he schizophrenic? Undecided? Experimenting? Misrepresented?
Darin Hufford suggests he is misunderstood. I suppose with the vast number of denominations and religions that are out there, one really must assume that if God DOES exist, he is grossly misunderstood. But who is right about him? Or the closest to right? I imagine each religious group out there would raise their hand and claim THEY are the closest to the truth. Surprise surprise. After all, that’s why they believe what they believe, is it not? I doubt anyone goes searching for a lie to believe in.
How can we find out if God exists? And if he does, how can we go about finding the real him/her instead of the version on display in the windows of all the world’s religions? How can we find out what he says about himself? ”Maybe the actual God…doesn’t endorse The God-Of-The-Bible.” -Frank Schaeffer
When I was a kid, sometimes I would lay in bed and think about what 5 things I would try to save from a house fire. My favourite doll? My scrap-book? My piggy bank full of nickels and dimes? One constant one from when I was about 7 or 8 until…well…until just over a year ago was my Bible. I loved my Bible. I would read it almost every day hoping God would “speak” to me (which meant that I would read something that made me feel guilty or “convicted”, then I would pray about it and try to fix whatever seemed wrong in my life that didn’t line up with what I had just read). I believed every word in it was true and perfect and right and straight from the mouth of God himself. I believed in absolute truth and that absolute truth was revealed in the Bible.
Now I can no longer believe those things. Every time I even THINK of pulling out my Bible, I start to wonder “Who actually wrote these books? What was their purpose in writing them? Who decided they were to be considered scripture? What was the agenda of the people who made that decision? Why these 66 books and not 66 others? Why does my Bible not contain books that other people’s Bibles have?” That’s not even going into the translation side of things that brings up MORE questions for me.
I’ve done a little research about how the canon of scripture that I grew up with came to be. Not enough to give me any illusions of my being an expert or anything–not even enough to answer my questions to my satisfaction–but just enough to let me relax a little. From what I have read, my understanding is that the canon of scripture that is “my” Bible (that is, the standard Protestant Bible) was not compiled of writings the church leaders of the time considered to be irrefutable, but was, instead, made up of writings that supported the church’s generally accepted belief system.
Perhaps this may not sound like much, but it is a big deal to me and provides a sense of freedom. Because I had always believed the Bible was absolute truth, I had believed it applied to everyone. Once I realized it was collected writings that agree with church doctrine I then saw it as only applying to people who also follow that doctrine. The Qur’an for Muslims, the Book of Mormon for Mormons….and the Bible for Christians.
I am by no means done asking questions about how the Bible was compiled, nor am I done searching for answers, but for now I am comfortable being here. And at this time (assuming my family got out safe) I would save my iPod, computer, journals, violin and wallet from a house fire.