In which I piss off everybody

I’ve heard many people say they lost their faith by reading the whole Bible. Usually the part of the Bible they find most repellent are the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy. These books bring into question many of the things people thought they knew about God. Why does he seem not to know things, for example? Why does he seem threatened by the possibility of the inhabitants of Babel storming heaven? Then there are the legalistic regulations about sacrifice… The draconian punishments… The promotion of genocide. Apologists try to explain all this away. Reasonable people ignore it and lapse into cognitive dissonance, or become atheists.

Here’s my take. Despite all the lip service paid to being “biblical,” most people’s spirituality has little to do with the Bible, much less with the relevance of Leviticus as a Message For Us Today.

You say that you’re a Christian because you have an experience of/ relationship with God/Jesus. Let’s ignore for the moment the questions raised or begged by such a statement. Did the Bible as such have much to do with that? Be honest. If not, why *can’t* you pick and choose among the scriptures? Why can’t you say that the Bible is not the word of God, but contains the word of God, as some Sophisticated Theologians do? Does that in any way change the Personal Relationship you claim to have?

Are you worried that Christians as a group may not be able to agree which scriptures are authoritative or normative? There’s already a pretty broad consensus that the sacrificial regulations and purity codes are obsolete. And why do you have to agree? Spirituality is personal, right? To me, it seems the only reason to enforce agreement is for social engineering and psychological manipulation.

So in conclusion I’m saying that if your spirituality is beneficial to you, and you have a personal relationship with God, maybe you don’t need the Innerrant Infallible Word of God to justify it. And while you’re at it, you might take a second look at some of the more distasteful ideas and sentiments you’ve felt obligated to accept and espouse on that basis.

Am I wrong? Naive? Simplistic? Feel free to tell me so.

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