Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

My Photo
Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Bible is NOT the Word of God

The Bible is NOT the Word of God

When we say the Bible is the word of God, we mislead people. The Book of Common Prayer directs us to say “The Word of the Lord” after readings from the Bible. After the Gospel is read at the Eucharist we are directed to say the “Gospel of the Lord.”

Few Anglican clergy and scholars would describe literalism as their interpretive principle. Certainly a few use literalism when it comes to so-called anti homosexual passages. Some use the absent of mention of women disciples in the New Testament as grounds for excluding women from ordination.

Most lay people are used to some interpretation and criticism when hearing sermons. Few are literalists when it comes to thinking about the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus walking on the water or feeding the five thousand. I think lay people on the whole are confused about how to interpret the Bible and many know little about it all. That confusion continues as we regularly refer to the Bible as the word of the God.

The Bible is not the word of the Lord. God did not send words to certain individuals who wrote them down on pieces of stone, papyrus or ancient paper. Cecil B. DeMille, with tongue in cheek, had God send fireballs smashing directly into the two tablets of stone and out popped the King James Version of the Ten Commandments in the old movie of the same name. We know the Bible is a library consisting of many different kinds of books, myth, story, history, prophecy, poetry, letters and biography.

Few clergy are willing to deal honestly with the Bible stories. In discussing a new Lutheran study course in the Bible, Bob Matthias, a retried Lutheran Bishop, has this to say. “Any new Bible Study program will surely examine the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke. Will we be free to suggest that these are not intended to be factual eyewitness accounts of the birth of Jesus? Will we provide those who participate in this study the tools to think about the resurrection story as something other than a historically documented event? If that is boldly done, then we must examine the other super natural events in the Bible to determine if they also might be better understood as story.

When I graduated from seminary in 1961 I had been exposed to these possibilities. We read about Rudolph Bultmann and his demythologizing of the scripture. It was presented but not affirmed. It was years however before I was able to suggest in classes that the creation stories were best understood as myth. I do not ever recall being that bold when preaching at Christmas or Easter. Deep down inside of myself I always struggled with these texts and felt that these were not factual accounts of events.”

The Bible is not the word of God. John Spong says that in The Sins of the Scripture. The Bible is not a book about facts. “It is a book of stories that seek to express the spiritual experience of the men and women whose stories are told within its pages.” I agree with Biblical scholar Bob Mattheis who wrote those words.


Post a Comment

<< Home