The bulk of this entry was originally a comment over at Mike Duran’s. But since it touches on so many things that are important to me (Christianity, History vs. mythology vs. oral tradition, mysticism, daily devotions) I decided I wanted a firmer record of it and thus brought it over here.
I say early and often that words are magic, that God’s greatest gift other than Grace was the gift of language and writing. So the Bible is important to me in that it is God’s writing.
For those of you who read this blog and are not Christian in the sense of being one who has dedicated their earthly life to following Christ, I get that you might wish to skip over this, as it has a bit of what you variously consider my Bronze Age Superstitions / foolishness / goofy beliefs / complete and utter wrongness attached to it.
“Christian” means different things to different people. It means, in its most basic sense, “A follower of Christ”.
But then you’ve got this world where we call this a Christian nation, where we use “Christian” to mean “Not Jewish or Muslim”, where the cultural pressure to self-identify as “Christian” is extremely strong. So when people answer a survey with vague operational definitions of their main points, you’re going to get a mishmash.
I know a lot of people who call themselves Christian but have never set foot inside a church.
That being said, yes, I think it is possible to be a full-on, completely dedicated Christ Follower and still have doubts about The Bible. I think God knew that would be the case. Look at how many Christ Followers have been through their periods of doubt in the Bible itself. I think that’s why we’ve gotten the magnificent gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the chance to dialogue directly with God. Have your doubts? Talk to God and you’ll get them straightened out. No big deal.
Harping again on my old horse of Mysticism, allow me to say that it is our own disservice we’ve done ourselves to have Christ Followers going about thinking that various Bible Stories are myths. (“It was really the Sea Of Reeds and more like a pond that dried up…”) We purged the great belief in the mystical nature of God, wrung all the miracles out of the Faith and now here we are. Of course we can’t get rid of that pesky dead-man-come-back-to-life thing. Other than that, the end result of the demystification of our religion has been to have people scoff at the virgin birth, the flood, the creation.
We put God in custom-designed boxes that make God just big enough to be what a person needs at one point in time and not any bigger, not any more powerful and certainly not capable of sending a shark to keep a man alive in its belly or halt the sun in its tracks.
As for the historical evidence of these things: There isn’t much of it. Okay. There is also not much written proof or historical evidence that my great-grandfather was a good man who provided for his family. No historian documented this fact. His name comes up in some census documents and on a grave stone and that’s it. But we have the words he left in letters to his children, the stories those children told and the things they wrote down. That’s the sort of “documentation” we have. Not unlike the documentation we have about God. We have what God told us, what God told the people around Jesus to write down, the people God contacted, the prophets, the kings. The people who knew God wrote about their experience with God.
We call this The Bible.
And unlike my great-grandfather, we’ve actually got, as I said before, the Holy Spirit. It’d be as if my Great Grandfather left some sort of very young wife behind or some Superman Fortress of Solitude Crystal we could dial up and ask questions about him. “Tell me about how he escaped from Turkey.”
So doubts, sure. I just think it’s sad that so many of us don’t care to take the extra step to talk about those doubts with the God who made himself lower than the angels just so we could talk directly.