A lot of disagreements between christians come down to how we see the Bible. And a lot of how we present the christian faith to outsiders (whether well or badly) is similarly determined by how we see the Bible.
I think there are four basic views, and I thought diagrams might make them clearer.
Most christians in the west come to belief in their teens or early 20s. From there, some stay constant in all their beliefs, some give up belief, and some start on a journey of change and growth.
This post is about people who change (including me).
You can read the New Testament without knowing anything about the authors or the background to their writing. If that’s you, you probably won’t be interested in this post. But I have long been interested in these background matters, and lately I’ve be coming to a few conclusions.
Last post I described how I have been on a journey working out what I think is true, or not, about the Old Testament. This post I try to draw some conclusions.
This post is very much a personal reflection about a journey I am still on.
For years I didn’t think much about the Old Testament. I read it sometimes, looked up passages occasionally, appreciated Isaiah and Ezekiel. But I didn’t really spend much time considering what I thought about it. After all, I am a christian, living in the new covenant, and following Jesus is my greatest priority. Of course I needed to understand Jesus in his Jewish context, and that meant in the context of the Hebrew scriptures, but I didn’t need to have a settled view on the many difficult questions raised by the Old Testament.
Eventually, a couple of years ago, I started to pray that God would lead me into a better understanding of the Old Testament, especially the difficult questions. And then I began to do some reading, thinking and research. And I think God has started to lead me somewhere.
So here is where I am up to. I’m not finished yet – there is much I have yet to work out. But I think I can at least see a little way ahead.
I’ve been reading a few books on the Old Testament lately. Paradoxically, this is probably the one I most disagreed with, yet also the one I gained the most from.
Last year I posted about how christians are gradually becoming more accepting of the theory of evolution.
As part of that post, I reviewed the work of Denis Lamoureux, Associate Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Alberta in Canada, based on some online slideshow teachings he has produced.
I have now read his book on the same subject. What’s it like?
I have been considering the implications of Peter Enns’ suggestion that, in the light of the evidence, we should understand the Old Testament differently than we have done in the past. In a comment on the post Interpreting the Old Testament, Brisancian has asked a number of questions about how we can know what’s true.
I thought the questions were important enough to answer in a new post. Quotes from Brisancian’s questions are shown as blockquotes.
Before Christmas I reviewed Peter Enns’ book, Inspiration and Incarnation, and checked out his main ideas in a little more detail, finishing with Interpreting the Old Testament.
Now to his summing up – what does all this say about the Bible and how we should read it?