Is The Bible a Crock?
©2022 by Vernon Miles Kerr and VernonMilesKerr.com
The fundamentalist “Christian” church I attended for 25 years held that the Bible (both old and new testaments) was dictated, word-for-word, by God Himself and miraculously preserved intact all down through the centuries. When asked, “What about all those fossils showing that life evolved over a much longer period than the 6,000 years claimed by the Bible?”— the ministry said it was phony evidence created by Satan — “and by the way, here in [scripture cited] it says ‘lean not unto thine own understanding,’ and over here, [another scripture cited] it says ‘there is a way that seemeth right unto a man but…'” (terrible consequences flow therefrom, or whatever.)
So, what is it? Dictated word-for-word or just a crock, a loose amalgam of ancient scrolls and codexes finally gathered up, circa 300 CE, and wrapped in that familiar black leather binding? Or, is there a middle ground, ie, its being merely an anthology of ancient wisdom written by men and women, agonizing over the mysteries of our existence and our purpose — if there is one — here, under the arching Milky Way? In their fervor and their psychological need, did a sentient, supreme being quietly whisper encouragement and insight when needed?
I came into this religious “thing” at 30, as a life-long atheist from a loving traditional family whose parents simply never discussed, nor advocated church-going. But, they did allow me to freely attend Sunday school with whomever of my friends invited me. But, none of that interesting smorgasbord ever cracked my shell of atheism.
But, I also came into the church with three years of college English under my belt. At least, even with all my intial skepticism, I detected that this big fat anthology was great literature — and, gradually, I began to realize there was some —unique, to me — unexplored wisdom within its pages.
Where has this been all my life? In all those World Literature classes over the years, we touched on Ancient Greece, Rome, India, Scandinavia, China and Japan. These ancient texts were bound up in religion, but somehow not considered dangerous enough to censor (by exclusion.) Maybe it was the (reputed) overly left-leaning stance of academia, during those years.
When our cultish church began to unravel on the death of its founder and guru, we brethren were encouraged to try other churches. The new leaders even quit insisting that ours was the “only true church.” Given this loosening of the trourniquet, I began to wonder, was man really created in God’s image, or was the God depicted in the Bible created by man in his or her own image? Did God deliver the paternalistic family structure via the Ten Commandments or did the religious leaders of 4,000 years ago simply “deify” what they already practiced, by figuratively etching those practices in stone? Scriptures telling of that God’s emotional outbursts and at times all too human behavior seemed to support the latter.
Still, entering the cult as an athiest, I eventually left an agnostic. All of that seemingly mysterious “wisdom” in the Bible and its mysterious origin seemed to be something beyond human.
“But, you can’t just pick and choose which parts of the Bible to attribute to God and which parts to man,” said my more fundamentalist friends who remained in the church.
“Why not? Why are there so many different Jewish and Christian denominations, all with their own “doctrines” based on which parts of the Bible they believe are directly from God and which parts are simply ‘metaphor’? People already pick and choose.”
In all of those “denominations,” one is expected to submit to the authority of the organization which has “chosen” the doctrines. If the parishoner is fine with that, and is happy with the situation, what harm is there? On the other hand, if the parishoner is not happy with being under such “authority,”or even feels abused, they should move on, without guilt. The one who gave us these marvelous brains expects us to use them.
So, is the Bible just a “crock”? No. It is, at least, one of the world’s greatest bodies of ancient literature. And, beyond that, it could be — for some — an insight into how a higher power inpires and provides needed help to those who seek it, with an open mind, and without the undue influence of others.