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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Bible is Neither Right nor Wrong

Ok, so there's this article by Marcus Borg.

 I agree with all of what he says about the Bible, and progressives (although I am not too concerned with agreeing with progressives), except for one thing. Every now and then he talk about the Bible as "wrong." I am mystified how you can use that word when talking about a book. How is a book "wrong?" How is it "right?" What is going on here?

He seems to be concerned that wrongness and rightness are part of the equation for the Bible's value to people who read it or find inspiration from it. I understand that there are Christians for whom the Bible is "right" whenever the Bible speaks, but the Bible can no more be "right" about something than it can be "wrong" about something. To talk about the Bible as right or wrong gives it an ethical character that far exceeds its writers' intentions. And, if you hold that the Bible is written by God, (something many Christians also hold) to call the Bible right or wrong actually removes God from the equation in which you find rightness and wrongness. If you supplant the Bible's verdict upon a situation, a person, or an event, you've effectively removed God's verdict from there, even if you claim God "wrote" the Bible. But I digress...

I get that Dr. Borg wants to use the word "wrong" for its polemical overtones. I see that, but I think he encourages people to continue to think that "right" and "wrong" are acceptable descriptors of the Bible, and they are not. They never can be without destroying the integrity of the God who gives us the Bible. In this case, whatever you believe about the inspiration of the Bible and its relationship to God, to ascribe right and wrong to it is to deny God's authority to claim right and wrong. And do you really want to replace God with the Bible?

My grandfather loved the Bible. He often chided me for not taking the Bible literally. But when he was a week away from his death, he said to me, "Scottie, (only my grandma and grandpa ever call me that), whatever God has for me next, I am ready." My grandfather placed his future with God, not the Bible. Whenever you talk about wrong and right, you are placing your future into the hands of that who imparts the verdict...and you're telling me, as a believing Christian, that you'd rather place your trust in a book rather than the God you believe in? What kind of Christian is that?

I would prefer we stop using words like "right" or "wrong" not because we don't have confidence in what is wrong or right, but because we have trust in God to make the wrong right, and if necessary, the right wrong.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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