Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Devotional ... or not

Is it Truth that tells you that the Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God?

I was never "devout" as a Christian ... more of a "good boy" as a child, I went to church (Episcopalian), was confirmed at around thirteen, continued to go weekly up until the time my parents started experiencing some problems and my Mom lost her focus on dragging her now teenage kids to church every week. I *did* experience a drug-fueled epiphany one morning at about the age of seventeen, but that passed within 24 hours, so it doesn't really count - but it *was* a serious rush!

So ... I drifted away from organized church at about fifteen or sixteen, then the family moved to another city in which I never attended a service regularly. In my twenties I had another brush with Christianity when my roommates and I all got high and one of the guys started "speaking in tongues". I picked up on it, started going to a Pentecostal church that one of my other roommates had just started attending, and immersed myself in the New Testament. I was, as is common to many born-again types, enthralled with the feeling of family, the supernatural feeling of the Pentecostal church (speaking in tongues) and the story of Jesus. I read the New Testament cover to cover ... then started on the Old Testament, where it all unraveled.

Before this Pentecostal phase, I had read parts of the OT & NT, but not in an ordered and purposeful manner. In fact, it was probably always Sunday School, or the occasional reference reading that represented the whole of my personal knowledge of the Bible.

After the Pentecostal phase, I had a good overview of the Jesus story - but like other folks that can read and comprehend at the same time, I understood that there were inconsistencies that had to be ignored or explained away using a Christian filter in order for it to seem coherent. The Old Testament didn't reinforce my belief - it destroyed it. The Book of Genesis is the most preposterous account of Creation that I can imagine, short of utter parody. Verse by verse, book by book, I intended to get through the whole thing from start to finish, but I just couldn't do it. I wussed out somewhere in Deuteronomy - convince that the authors were primitive charlatans trying to impress and gain favor and control over folks that had less knowledge and influence then themselves. It was really pretty vile. I had read passages from Isaiah and Micah ... and probably others that prophesied the coming of a Messiah, at various times through my childhood and adolescent years, but I never went through it verse by verse route until my twenties.

That was enough. It's just not accurate or convincing.

As I journey through life, gain experience, hopefully become wise, hopefully dispense with wishful thinking, hopefully remain aware when I erroneously seek confirmation instead of truth, I try to develop and refine my approach to dealing with reality as I encounter it.

The Bible doesn't provide evidence that maps to the reality that I've encountered, and doesn't provide insights that I couldn't get elsewhere. Having other human beings making the case that the Bible *does* map to reality and *is* the authoritative source for life's insights (and moral guidance) speaks more to its lack of inherent authority and coherence.

This seems to be the case for all claims that lack evidence.

Why are there defenders of the faith? Shouldn't any claim that requires hordes of defenders, but which never delivers evidence, be rejected on those bases alone?

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