On a number of occasions, I have written articles directed at the issue of the bible verses this or that, or the Christian stance against this or that. It never fails; the sensitive subject matter [religion] seems to bring out the best and the worst in people. I get all sorts of replies, from “this is awesome, can I forward it”, to “God will condemn you for taking your position, because he hates [the thing you said] and he hates you.” To which my reply is typically, “Thank you, I would be honored if you forwarded the article”, and to the condemnation I say, “Thank you, I’ll discuss this further with you when we meet up in the afterlife, where ever that might be.”
The fact of the matter is, with few exceptions, religion is widely misunderstood by most people. Religion is taken out of context and it is disassembled, placed in a shopping cart and on a conveyor belt to be utilized for one’s personal needs as they see fit and deem necessary at the time they desire it and forgotten when it is in the way of what one feels if what one feels is contradictory to popular religious belief. Religion — all things considered — is for personal gain.
Religion has stood the test of time. As far back as can be determined, religion has been a necessary component in our psychological makeup. Whether it is a result of a need for a God who is in control, or the desire of an afterlife of which if there were none we would be in a hopeless existence — our very essence depends on belief in religion.
Thousands of years ago, before people acquired the skills to write, religion was passed down orally. That is, all religious stories, parables, and commandments were transmitted in the community through the elders and the parental figures by way of mouth — verbally. To misquote a religious fact would result in heresy, which was punishable by disownment by the family and the town, and sometimes depending on the severity of the offense stoning the individual to death.
When books of the bible began to surface, the Greek Old Testament in the 4th Century, and the books of the Hebrew Old Testament in the Middle Ages, this prompted clergy and nobleman to learn to read and write and commoners soon followed.
The single most influential occasion in biblical history came in A.D. 325 at the request of the Emperor Constantine I. Constantine summoned a council of Christian Bishops along with representatives from a number of other religious sects. In all, a total of more than 1800 Bishops gathered, their purpose; decide what the relationship of Jesus Christ is to God the Father, construct part one of the Nicene Creed, decide a proper date for Easter, declare early canon law (in short decide what would be allowable and acceptable in the bible and in the church).
The reason for the reformation was Constantine who was a devout pagan all his life, was in fear of losing a popularity contest. The Christian population, which had grown, outnumbered the non-Christian population and Constantine shuddered at the idea of facing dethronement and destruction of the empire he built. This was a time when Christians were facing their worst persecution. Decrees had been enforced to crucify known Christians by the hundreds along with their affiliates and families in the middle of the night and Christian martyrdom was born.
Constantine did not accept the Christian faith until he was on his deathbed in A.D. 337 some 12 years after the First Council of Nicaea. Some speculate Constantine’s deathbed acceptance a was merely an act of desperation of a dying desperate man. The Council of Nicaea some 1800 Bishops decided which canon [decrees, declarations, commandments, parables, ordinances, regulations and books] would be allowed and proclaimed as legitimate declarations of the bible.
The only problem with this, 1800 Bishops and a non-Christian leader [Constantine, who by the way is said to have entered the council in shining robes of the finest purple dyed silk and gold trimmings shimmering as though he were to be worshiped as he gestured the Bishops to bow before him], were deciphering and deciding Christian principles and religious matters, rewriting the text many Christians lived and died for.
This was not unlike the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 where English puritans approached King James I with the Millenary Petition [1000 signatures] and as a result rewrote the bible once again to come up with the version that worked for them, the King James Version.
Is there a problem with the rewrites, and counsels, and men interfering in what they think fits and does not fit? In the original Greek Septuagint, there is no grammatical punctuation. In the Jewish Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament) once again, punctuation is void, however there is a certain “learned” way to read and recite the text. The same holds true for the Latin Biblia Hebraica. However, any “punctuation” which one could discern would be marks to distinguish pauses and stops and those are few.
In addition, in the original text, many words have many meanings and the “counsels” decided which words and sentences made more sense and fit contextually, or so they believed. So, could it be stated that God wrote the bible? No! God did not come down from the heavens and sit at a cherry wood desk and scribe his “rules and regulations” for all humanity.
Is the bible the “inspired word of God”? Did God inspire the authors of the individual text to write messages God sent through His messengers? If I were to say, God inspired me to write this article I would get a few chuckles and a few eyebrows turned up at me. But the authors of the text of the bible are different people than I. They were devout Christians living lives in harmony with religion and God. I am living in harmony with my family and my ideals.
Is it possible for the bible to have inaccuracies? Most of the inaccuracies I have noticed are not within the text, but the transgressions lie within the interpreter. I have noticed a failure to comprehend the text in context to be the greatest error. A close second is taking the text out of context to fit ones personal agenda.
We must always remember the bible is a compilation of religious sayings, stories, parables, fables and songs with underlying high moral standards to guide our behavior if we so choose to accept its teachings.
Some people would contend that the bible is the most important thing in the world and they mandate its commandments and morals imposing what they believe the bible says, but give them a little adversity and they rarely do what they themselves profess. Then there are but a few who actually get it and practice the bible fundamentals of love and acceptance. I believe, those few who take the time to examine and analyze the true meaning of the words of the bible, conceive and become conscience of a religious reality a minority of people ever experience.
Contextual evidence is the best proof of all. If you are not sure of something, cross-examine it. There is a vast cornucopia of information available over the internet. Do not assume just because you read something it is true or you think you understand it, reread it, and cross-reference it—It only takes a moment or two. The new information will open your mind to endless possibilities.