Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Knowing God

Here's another point that the sources I am reading right now make about why we should read the Bible with a grain of salt: "We know that it's very much like God to condescend (come down) to a human level to be with His people, so it's no stretch of the imagination to think that He would let Himself be written about by humans on a human level in stories that make sense for what the humans are trying to say." 

Again, on the surface, you think, yeah. This makes sense. God is always coming down to walk with humans - in the garden, on the streets of Jerusalem, etc. Maybe it's true, then, that we shouldn't worry so much about putting the Scriptures under a microscope and looking at everything human about them. After all, that does seem to be what God is about. 

Then, these voices step in and explain how Israel wrote their story the way they wrote it because it served a purpose for them, breaking it all down in human terms and telling you that every culture had its own creation story, so Israel wrote Genesis so that they would have one, too. Every culture had a story of triumph and of how they got to where they are, so Israel wrote Exodus so that they could have one, too. The conclusion is that Israel's "myths" are much like those of the other cultures around them, except that the God figure is different in them, and this, they conclude proudly, is how we got our Bible. 

Cool, I guess. 


How do you know that God likes to condescend (come down) to His people? How do you know that He's the kind of God who likes to meet us on human terms? 

Well, they say, we know that because the Bible tells us that. It records that for us. does the Bible, which you say is just a human creation and a product of culture, tell you something meaningful about God if it was just written for cultural defense, to explain the appearance and position of a people? 

Do you see the trouble here? Those who are attempting to say that the Bible should be viewed as a human creation are using the things that the very same Bible says about God to defend the way that the culture would have written about said God to build their own story in the same way that other cultures built their stories. They want you to believe that on the one hand, the Bible is true about some aspects of the nature of God, but that it's mythological about others and completely cultural about still some other things. On one hand, it tells us something about God that we cannot understand without it, but at the same time, the whole thing must be taken with a grain of salt because it cannot be considered to be historically accurate (they say that as a myth, because of its "genre," it doesn't have to be to be meaningful). 

This is precisely why so many have so much trouble with the Bible. Which parts are we supposed to take literally? Which are figurative? How do we know if what we're reading about God is true or if it's just part of the story that Israel needs to tell to bolster its national unity and confidence? 

This kind of reading requires a high level of mental gymnastics. It requires us to become detectives about what we're reading and figure out how we're supposed to understand it and what it is meant to tell us. 

And that's exactly the point, they say. That's exactly what they've been getting at all along. So doesn't this, too, prove their thesis? 

(Not really. We'll get into that in the next couple of days.)  

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