Thursday, August 23, 2007

Taking the Bible Seriously?

The other day I had a phone call from a man who asked which Bible I preached from. I said the NRSV, but that we had the Good News Bible in the pews. He didn't seem to know about either of them, but what he was looking for was a church that preached the KJV only. I guess it's that old idea that if it was good enough for Paul, it's good enough for me. But seriously, the KJV was a good translation in its own day, but this is the 21st century and not the 17th (and even the KJV has been revised over the years). So, is reading the KJV only taking the Bible more seriously?
Marcus Borg speaks of taking the "Bible seriously but not literally." I kind of like the modification made to that phrase by my friend David Matson, "Taking the Bible seriously, but not necessarily literally." There are at least a few passages that I take more literally than does the distinguished scholar from Oregon State University.
With that said, I find interesting the review Elizabeth Palmberg has given of the Left Behind series. Now, I'll admit, I've not had the stomach for the series, but I've read in the genre -- back in the day I read voraciously Hal Lindsey's stuff (mid 70s). What Palmberg does is show how the claim to take the Bible "literally" can lead one to not take it seriously. And I agree!
She writes in a God's Politics posting:

Where Revelation was written to reassure genuinely oppressed believers that God was more powerful than the state and culture that persecuted them, Left Behind appears to be written to relieve its audience, which enjoys immense wealth and civil
liberties by world standards, of the burden of having
faith in things unseen, or of connecting to others who have a different worldview. Forget all that stuff about people knowing you are Christians by your love – about which, more in the second installment of this review.

And so the question is: What does it mean to take the Bible seriously?

1 comment:

Ed Darrell said...

Good enough for Paul! Heck, the way I heard it, the guy said "If it was good enough for Jesus, we shouldn't change it!"

It might be easier to figure out what it means to take the Bible too seriously -- some people elevate the Bible to the position of an idol: Anything it says anywhere is gospel. After all, I've been told, doesn't Timothy say it's all the infallible Word of God?

I'll be real interested to see what others have to say.