Ok, now before we start I'm not in the business of telling anyone what they should do. I just like to ask the questions. Firstly because I like taking a wander in other people's head spaces & seeing how they think & secondly because in thinking an issue through out loud I can gnaw at it like a terrier at an old bone. I've been told before that I can come across as very unloving ~ so! I do not mean to get anyone's backs up. Just so you know. When I want to get your back up I'll say so. OK?
My dear friend, Ember, left me a comment in my chat on hair. It was a lovely, long, thoughtful comment, as Ember's so often are but I have been puzzling over something she said ~ & I am starting to wonder if my more literal minded children may not have got that particular trait from their father after all! I shall quote her because I should hate to misrepresent what she has actually said.
I like to think of it that the Bible can be understood as a manual or as a map.
If thinking of it as a manual, the reader would think 'Hmm - headcovering? What does the Bible say on headcovering?', look it up in the index, and follow the instructions written there.
If thinking of the Bible as a map, then 'Headcovering' is a road or place on the journey, it has a bearing and relationship with the 'You Are Here' spot, and with the Peaceable Kingdom towards which we are journeying. And travelling to the Peaceable Kingdom may (or not) pass through or along Headcovering.
Now I have a problem. I don't read maps very well. In all honesty I usually end up headed in the completly opposite direction ...which brings us to manuals. I don't do so well with those either. My mother's perpetual cry during my growing up years was "Read the instructions first!" None of us ever did.
Over the years, 5 decades now & counting, I have watched what the church has done to the scriptures & if I look at my history I get rather goggle~eyed because no~one but priests could read Latin & they didn't want to share 'cause knowledge is power & they wanted the power. Sorry. Sidetracking. I'm a bit like that.
Where was I? Right. So I'm used to hearing ordained clergy declare things like, "Well the bible isn't meant to be read literally you know", or "Jesus wasn't a real historical figure", or more recently, "It doesn't matter whether Jesus really existed or not"....
I have a problem with all of those statements though I know that each can be defended intellectually. I have a problem because once you start declaring this bit or that bit isn't true/revevent/meant to be taken literally the whole thing starts to come apart in your hands. Of course that could just be me but where do you then draw the line?
Anyway what came to my rather chaotic mind, surfacing from amongst the random flotsam & jetsam that inhabits my inner spaces, was the O.T bit where..was it Hezikiah? The newly appointed king who found the abandonded Scriptures & having read them decided Israel was in serious trouble & turned the whole unweildly nation around & back to worshipping God the way He wanted to be worshipped.
And in looking for the relevant scripture I got sidetracked. I know! It happens to me a lot. I landed on some site, which I suspect is by no means exhaustive, & they listed 281 scriptures which all say basically the same thing: Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
Or by the N.T but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Which brings me to my problem. See, if we only take bits as applicable, which bits? And just so's we're clear here, even keeping the basic judaic food laws is so complicated I abandonded even looking into them ~ & I did look because there is a reason the Jews have managed to survive relatively disease free for centuries. What gets them wiped out tends to be more along the lines of judgements [I gotta stop reading the prophets!] ~ pogroms, holocausts, racial hatred of the most vitrolic sort. And as someone with super sensitive skin I actually wish our clothing manafacturers would obey the injunction to not mix fabrics!
Sorry. Digressing is a bad habit of mine. Anyway on another issue completely a very godly young woman once stated that when it came to God's word she found it was rather like travelling down a highway [or words to that effect]. The road was wide & she could choose where to travel on it but it ran along the edge of a deep precipce with no guard rails & she had determined that it was safest & wisest to travel as close to the mountain as possible. Risk & danger lay in travelling too close to the edge.
I think I have come to that conclusion as well. I am probably wrong but I think I will err on the side of caution. I've tried travelling the edge & in the end I was left feeling there were no absolutes. Everything was open for interpretation. Nothing could be trusted. One can not travel in freedom if one feels insecure.
So, how do you read your bible, people? Literally? Interpretatively? And what do you do with the bits you don't like? We've all got those, haven't we?! Do share.