If some accounts or sections in the Bible were (are) allegorical or metaphorical in nature and not literally accurate, would that cause your faith to come crashing down like a house of cards?
While perusing other blogs, I came across a blogger who spends much time attempting to prove that the Earth was created in 6 days and also to disprove the accepted science that the Earth is billions of years old. He disputes that there are mountain chains many millions of years old today on the planet. Basically, this man is insisting on a literal interpretation to all that is in the Bible.
Our feature image is of low lying clouds over the bay seen from the Bay Bridge in early twilight.
This approach causes me to pause and to ponder: why do some individuals fret so much over what is in Genesis (and we could include that other troubling book of the Bible, Revelation or Apocalypse)? If we sincerely believe that God is all-powerful (omnipotent), then why could He not make the world, the universe, all of Creation in any way He chose, and on any timetable? An omnipotent Supreme Being could will the universe into existence in the wink of an eye, or could choose a more gradual, evolutionary approach to bringing about the universe we find ourselves in today. Does it really matter how God created us? The “how” ultimately is not important. The fact that God did create us is key and is one of the things that separates us from atheists and secular humanists and those who espouse “scientism” as a substitute for authentic religion.
Faithful Christians need not be anxious over what science has learned in recent centuries. There is nothing that science has discovered that lessens God’s sovereignty or majesty. Science does not dethrone God or make Him irrelevant – even if many try to use science to that end.
Looking for the Ark from the flood in Noah’s time? Why not just consider the lesson from that story? When man transgresses God’s laws for him (man) that offends and even angers God. We need to observe the God-given moral code so we do not fall prey to our all too human proclivities for self-destructive behavior (destructive of one’s self, of other individuals, and to other societies). The Commandments are to protect us from ourselves. We would be wise to live by them.
As to the Flood, to cover the entire Earth so that no land were to be above water would require more water than there is on the planet. Even with melting all ice that currently resides on land and raising up all water from underground aquifers, the sea level would not rise by more than about 500 feet – at least that is what current science tells us.
Perhaps more effort ought be spent on Evangelizing others right now, and not arguing over what is ultimately not very important.
other related thoughts
Who is competent to interpret Scripture? With, by some estimates, 28,000 different denominations claiming to be “Christian” there is much confusion within Christianity today. It is amazing how many ways Christ’s message and teachings have been sliced and diced in the past few centuries.
Having spent much time over the years since my undergraduate days in the late 1970s reading and studying the world’s religions and various mythologies, I have come to some conclusions. Those that come later always seem to desire to leave their mark, their spin on the religion they adhere to. The message of the Founder is thus often distorted over time. This has happened in Buddhism and in Christianity. There are some that assert this distortion has also occurred in Islam (which to us appears more of a violent ideology cloaked in a thin veneer of religiosity than a bona fide religion). Current Judaism is governed by the Talmud and is largely disconnected from the Torah, and is more concerned with tribal identity and promotion of that tribe than with true spirituality.
Personally, I think that Scripture interpretation and religious fervor need to be tempered with reason, logic, current scientific knowledge, and common sense. We can also consider the collective experiences of mankind at times to help us in our understanding. Scripture verses need to be kept in context and not misused to promote a particular agenda. This becomes a problem, for example, when the meaning of certain verses is stretched or twisted way beyond what was intended in the proper context so as to prohibit many things that are not morally wrong. (Yes, there are moral absolutes that do not, cannot change. But, some moralistic or legalistic prohibitions are of actions that are morally neutral. Alternatively, we could say that if the Church is going to condemn something, it needs to be on solid ground in doing so.)
We have long believed that Church authority is weakened or undermined to the extent that the Church abuses or neglects the proper use of its authority. If an overbearing, authoritarian approach to Church authority is used, that serves to weaken the respect for Church authority among the members of the Church. When Christ gave authority to the Apostles, there was also a responsibility that attached to that authority – the responsibility to not abuse the authority. God is sovereign, not the priests nor the ministers, nor the elders.
A final thought. Christian Zionists and “end times” Christians are doing much harm. Instead of being spear carriers or water boys for Israel, the Christian Zionists ought to be attempting evangelization of these “Jews”, most of whom are atheists and are antagonistic (to put it mildly) towards Christianity. Those desirous of “the Rapture” so they do not have to face their own individual bodily death are bringing discredit to Christianity in the eyes of non-believers. Again, reason and common sense can help to check the emotional excesses of the faithful.
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