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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why "It's Not What I Say, It's What The Bible Says" Doesn't Work

For anyone who has had anyone wave a Bible at them, been declared damned at worst or just terribly sinful at the very least, while the person attempting to use this sacred text as a weapon declares "It's not what I say, it's what the Bible says," don't take it to heart, please.

The person doing the waving and declaring is a literalist. For literalists, the Bible is objective truth, unbiased in any way, and is plain and simple to understand. This just is not so. Aside from the Bible being a library of very complex books using every form of literary genre available to the ancient world and in need of serious study to fathom reliably, no one comes at the Bible without bias. No one, even the literalist, comes to Scripture without assumptions and beliefs that color their interpretation--yes, interpretation--of Scripture. As the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling states, "Literalists although proclaiming to have only Scripture as authority, in actuality bring to biblical interpretation a particular perspective through which Scripture is read." Further, if you, the one against whom some charge has been leveled, do not come from the same background as your accuser, you will not be considered a person who has enough authority to be trusted since you do not believe as the literalist believes. If you provide a counter argument with differing interpretation, it will not be given weight.

In the ever "entertaining" (heavy sarcasm here) world of tit for tat between the literalist believers and the literalist atheists, similar charges are leveled against each other, each side misusing Scripture as ammunition to make one argument or another about how the other side is completely wrong. I contend both sides bring the same simplistic bias to the reading of Scripture and the same blindness, whether willful or not, to that bias in their reading. Hence, the arguments are circular and fruitless.

So, again, dear reader, if you have been wounded in the past by someone saying, "It's not what I say, it's what the Bible says," please, understand that it isn't and you shouldn't take it to heart. I'm sorry you've been harmed in this way.

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