Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Bible Tells Me So

The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture has Made us Unable to Read it (By Peter Enns)

Summary of Contents

In chapter 1, Enns discusses his reasons for writing the book. He chooses 'door number 3' in the debate about accepting (positively) what we find in the Bible vs. simply rejecting the Bible.

As Christians, we often try to 'tidy-up' the Bible. But the Problem isn't the Bible. The problem is coming to the Bible with expectations it's not set up to bear. Maybe the Bible was meant to be messy, troubling, and weird.

Enns conveys 'biblical scholarship' as a fairly uniform group reaching relatively liberal conclusions. But those conclusions (which he shares) haven't interrupted his faith in God. Instead, it's deepened his faith. He gained a Bible -- and a God -- that he was free to converse with, complain to, talk back to, interrogate, disagree with (not as a act of rebellion, but as an act of faith and trust). God WANTS us to wrestle with the Scriptures. The Bible itself is an inspired wrestling match.

Enns came to his conclusions when he noticed that, in the Bible, God does a lot of killing; that what the Bible says happened often didn't happen (historically, at least the way the Bible said it did); and that the biblical writers often disagreed with one another. The next three chapters elaborate on these observations.

Chapter 2 is about the 'bad' stuff Enns finds in the Bible.

Enns points out that there is a lot of killing in the Bible. Violence, at times, seems to be God's preferred method of conflict resolution. We need to take these portraits of God seriously, but not as the final word. God commands the genocide of the Cannanites, for instance. We shouldn't try to justify the elimination of the Canaanites. All such attempts are really hard to defend. Enns believes the biblical writers were wrong in some of their beliefs about God. They were wrong to think God commanded genocide. Thankfully, according to Enns, this mass killing never really happened anyways (they were just exaggerations made up during the monarchy).

But why would God allow Himself to be painted in these ways if they aren't even real depictions of Who He is? Enns insists, again, that the Bible is the story of God told from the limited point of view of real people living at a certain place and time. But God wants us to see the development that occurs throughout the Bible. God's people today are actually obligated not to repeat the mistakes of the more ancient people as they attempted to follow God and failed to discern His true leading. God chose to let these (False) stories be told because, as the next chapter will show, God likes stories.


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