Last week, I wrote about trying to find a spiritually mature way to take the Bible seriously without taking it completely literally.
So, let's think about what this could possibly mean for the Old Testament. Wait, before we do that, a few disclaimers. I am not a Biblical scholar. I took Bible classes everyday in college at Lipscomb University for 4 years, but things like this weren't really discussed. I'm a neophyte who's thinking off the top of my head and I could be way off base here.
Ok. Let's start at the beginning. I talked last year about how when someone asks you how old the earth is, they're really asking what you think of the Bible. But let's just take for a second that the Biblical account of creation is mythical and the current scientific understandings about the beginning of life and the universe is closer to correct. What does that mean for a Christian? Well for some, it means that the rest of the Bible isn't trustworthy. If that one part is wrong or incorrect, it means that the whole thing collapses. For someone else, what it could mean is that the author of Genesis was reflecting the understandings of his (or her) time and assuming God's action in that. Did they believe it? Probably, but that doesn't preclude it from being scientifically incorrect. Now, should we put our complete "faith" in scientific understanding? No, but one thing that science does is allow the possibility of saying, "I don't know." Scientists don't know what caused the presumed "Big Bang;" they don't know what sparked proteins to come together to start the cycle of life. And to me, that leaves open the possibility of God's action in that.
That one is one that a lot of people have thought about. But another piece of the OT that I've thought a lot about are God's commands to Joshua in the same named book to completely annihilate the Canaanites. He tells them to utterly destroy them: men, women, and children (Joshua 8). I really have two issues with this: 1) it seems to go against the God is Love declarative in 1 John; 2) it makes God seem like a racist and "bad." Why would he direct the destruction of children? So, what if what we're reading is the writing of someone who is inserting God and an understanding of His word into their actions. Basically giving His sanction to the actions that they're doing. Telling history from their perspective. Someone once said, "You can be sure that you've created God in your own image when He hates the same people that you do." Was that going on here with the Israelites?
Now what that opens me up to is someone saying, "But Phil, aren't you just trying to explain away the parts that you don't understand or don't agree with to fit into your understanding?" Well, maybe, but the alternative is taking a view of a God inconsistent from the New Testament God, and that's a dangerous road to consider, in my mind.
Yes, I realize I'm opening a can of worms, playing with fire, insert cliche here. But if I'm being honest with my thoughts and my faith, this is what I have to do and questions I have to ask and try to come to some resolution on.
Next Friday, the New Testament and why I tend to take it quite a bit more literally than the Old.