Many may turn away from God because of what they understand or have heard the Bible teaches about their Creator. One has to wonder if we might be better off without the Bible after seeing all the troubles the Book has caused. I have studied the Bible for years so obviously I am going to defend we are better off with than without the Bible. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t think there are many rational arguments to suggest that we may be better off without this Book.
Some argue that having a Bible informs what God is truly like, thus inspiring higher moral standards. Many people have lived and died without knowing the Bible existed. They are not necessarily less moral than those who have a Bible and look to it for guidance. Many people who have no interest or relationship with God put to shame morally those claiming to be godly. Interpretations of the Bible are fallible. We are not totally clueless of what God is really like if we are made in God’s image. Most can agree on good from evil. We can have a relationship with our Creator and avoid problems of misrepresentations of God if we did not have the Bible.
It seems the Bible has led to more divisiveness than unity. We tend to worship a Book than who the Book is about. How else do you explain the thousands of denominations and the differences among those who claim to worship the same God? They establish their own Creeds to follow which just leads to divisiveness. The Apostle Paul warned against such divisions among followers: “I follow Paul; another, I follow Apollos; another, I follow Cephas; still another I follow Christ” (I Cor. 1:12). God folks refer to themselves as Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, etc. Their differences often center on understandings of the Bible for guidance. If we got rid of the Bible people might seek more Who we follow that what we believe.
A Book to focus on has led to more personal conflict than harmony. The Bible is often not discussed so we can consider one another’s opinion gracefully to work out our own convictions with as much consistency as possible. We behave as if God is not capable of leading individuals. Interpretations are fallible but we claim our opinions are the truth. It is convicting to learn that theologians such as St. Augustine and Calvin didn’t oppose the execution of those who did not agree with their theology. The truth is in any discussion you could be right, I may be right, or we may both be wrong. Once a discussion turns into a debate or argument we have both lost. Knowing human nature we may be better off without a Book.
We all know what a loving God should be like. When two debatable interpretations in Scriptures exist, shouldn’t we err on the side that portrays God as the most relational and rational to the human mind? Because of a Book we end up with some interpretations that do more harm than good it seems. No one in their right might would think a loving God would condone sadistic torturing. Yet, it is suggested the Bible teaches when people die they either go to Heaven or a place where God purposely keeps people alive to continue to torture them for their rebellion. Most humans wouldn’t even do that with their worst enemies. One wonders if we are better off without the Bible to avoid interpretations that surely don’t reveal God’s true character.
I have discussed reasons having the Bible may be a curse, but I cannot imagine my life without a Bible to read and attempt to understand. I have suggested we know intuitively what a loving Creator would be like, but the Bible advises much that is not necessarily common sense. The Bible says we are made in the image of our Creator. I am not sure I would naturally think that, but such an understanding reveals how I think I should treat my child is how God thinks toward me. The Bible suggests it is better to forgive than always pursue exact justice. That is not something I would always think of naturally, even on a good day. The Bible reports Jesus was an actual historical person. We don’t question the reliability of Julius Caesar’s exploits in the Gallic Wars though the manuscript evidence and reliability is far less than the New Testament. Proof for OT literature is no less impressive.
Some explain many biblical passages, particularly in the Old Testament, are the writers recording their perceptions of God than revealing what God is really like. Some believe this makes for less angst as we don’t have to spend all our time trying to defend God and difficult passages that seemingly claim God to be less moral than humans. I suggest it makes the Bible harder to read. The phrase “Thus says the Lord” was used thousands of time by the prophets in the OT. How do we discern when God did and didn’t speak to a prophet? We must move past reading everything in the Bible literally as sometimes a writer is speaking metaphorically, but I am more inclined to think the Bible is innocent until no longer debated and proven guilty.
Most religions have a central Book to guide them. Having such Books allows us to compare different worldviews and discuss truths which lead to a life with less regrets. The Bible doesn’t guarantee kindness but it can inspire continual efforts toward perfection. I don’t know how to explain it but you can read the Bible over and over and come away with fresh insights. Reading the Bible allows conversations with God as you work through understandings. It can be very comforting to have a Friend by our side in good and tough times. I just wish though we all could be more gracious in our use of the Bible to lead to positive changes in our life.