Some churches present something they call The Bible as “the inerrant word of God.” Many churches do not.
All serious Bible scholars, check out Bart Ehrman’s reports on the subject, know that there is no universal human agreement on what writings constitute the Bible. We don’t have God’s manuscript: those who say we do are lying: and are probably ignorant too.
or are ignorant, and are probably lying too.
As a child I was told that the Bible was God’s word. I wasn’t warned about how unreliably humans hear, understand, transcribe things. I wasn’t reminded of how rightly skeptical secular authorities are of human testimony (let along how skeptical pk would become of testimony from secular (or religious) authorities …
Imagine something with me. Now of course your imagination doesn’t match mine, but you have one: maybe mine doesn’t match yours, but I have one. Let’s try to imagine together:
First imagine that God really esists. That is: imagine that the cosmos contains a consciousness so skillful as to actually be reliably sentient!
Now, further imagine that this consciousness is interested in communicating with human beings.
Don’t ask why, just imagine it: that’s the given of our thought experiment.
Now: imagine that this consciousness is interested in judging us! Continue to imagine that the consciousness is reliable, is competent to know the truth! OK? Now: this God gives us a Bible! Just like we say.
Except now also imagine this: God keeps his own copy! God keeps his copy far away from human hands!
Imagine this: at Judgment the first thing God will do is ask to see our copy!
Well, he has to compare it to his original, does he not?
Never mind whether little Susie let little Willie kiss her when she was fourteen with his tongue in her mouth. That’s trivia; No, first establish whether any (or many) faithful actually kept an accurate record of what God published to us.
Now hold on, this is hard, I know, maybe impossible: try, try as hard as you can: (remember: God is in control of his Judgment; not me, not you, not a pope, not a priest, not a Protestand majority, not a Catholic majority, not a Jewish majority, not a hoard of Arabs, not a sea of Chinese …) God can interrupt you, you can’t interrupt him, your priest can’t interrupt him, your lawyer can’t interrupt him …
God is going to show us (in my imagination at least) what his Bible says, then show us what our Bible says. What more will he then need to say?
Milton imagines Satan in all his magnificence, all his puissance, facing off against God. Satan picks up whole mountains to throw at God!
Then poor Satan wants the mountings on top of him to protect him from God’s return blow. No: the mountains don’t help.
Paradise Lost: isn’t that one of the greatest images in literature? Damn!
But you probably don’t know Milton’s Paradise Lost, certainly not the whole of it, maybe not even that famous passage: and you certainly don’t know my teaching of it: ’cause I was tarred and feathered out of the teaching fraud, for calling it a fraud among other reasons, for offering a gate-keeper-less internet to replace state-run schools and state-abused licensing and state-funded private universities: just have a free internet instead, voluntarily paid for, no coerced financing: taxes. You don’t know my teaching for the same reasons you won’t know God’s Bible.
But it’s so embarrassing for me to be telling you.
I’m trying to stay patient, waiting for God: trusting he’ll do what I imagine is the right thing. Hoping there will be no need for any impulse for me to interrupt him.
Let truth happen, it can’t be forced.
And there’s no guarantee it will happen: can’t happen, while popes and presidents and shoguns run things. And bureaucracies! All Christ killers.
After I’ve rested up a bit I’ll develop this to extend to the New Testament:
Imagine that God gave us a Bible, imagine that God kept his own copy! Imagine that God sent us his son. Imagine that God kept copies of what his son said! Imagine that the son is resurrected and remembers what he said! Imagine that the son kept his own copies!
Now what are we going to do?!
Imagine hardest of all: that when God speaks, that when it’s the son’s turn to speak, everyne is going to have to listen! No: you won’t “have to just take this call.” No, the pope, the priest, you, nor me can interrupt, or goldbrick.
I love it. I wish.