God never intended a Book to take the place of a relationship with God and others. The Bible is not a story controlled by God. God got involved with the nation of Israel so they and we can, by reading of their journey, begin to discover what God is truly like. The Bible is not a book to be used as a proof text to defend one’s position. Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love. God seeks to encourage and empower us to be more the person we deep down desire to be. Don’t check your moral conscience at the door as you consider what a loving God is truly like.
Derek Flood’s book Disarming Scripture suggests we not approach Scriptures with blind obedience but faithful questioning with the aim to love others like we want to be loved. We do this anyway, even if we claim the Bible is somehow infallible, because ancient literature is subject to interpretation thus why scholars differ on what the Bible says about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, end-of-the world views, etc. Unquestioning obedience has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other violence in the name of God. Faithful questioning allows us to use our moral intuitions in determining what is the more loving way. “… When this focus on correct interpretation becomes primary, and love takes a backseat, the focus is placed on ‘being right’ and ‘orthodox’ at the expense of love” (p.67).
Reading the Bible through Jesus-shaped lens isn’t always the solution. Jesus often spoke in parables which are subject to numerous understandings. Scripture is written by many authors, sometimes with opposing perspectives, each claiming to speak for God. OT laws mandated animal sacrifices in God’s name, but writers after the OT laws seemingly wrote God prefers contrite hearts over animal sacrifices (Ps. 51:16-17). Jesus questioned the OT “eye for an eye” mentality, which possibly was intended to control retaliation, by suggesting going the extra mile rather than exacting revenge. Jesus implied over time evaluating interpretations and others by the fruit they produce or don’t (Mt. 7:16). Different opinions can stand side by side as we continually discern the most loving approach. Is it better we threaten or force our opinions on others in the name of God? Evil often results when attempting to control in the name God according to an infallible book.
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