The Bible is an essential source for the christian faith. Yet it is also the cause of many difficulties.
Some stories in the Bible are hard to believe. Others we don’t want to be true, for they suggest a God far less loving than was revealed in Jesus.
A way to read the Bible without tears
Most of the difficulties arise if we assume that the whole Bible is equally true and applicable to us. That barbaric commands in the early Old Testament are as applicable today as the Sermon on the Mount.
But that is an assumption. We can consider other approaches.
My approach is to carefully examine what the Bible does, and doesn’t, say about itself, and to balance that against what historians and archaeologists say.
This leads me to a view that the Bible records a process of revelation that begins with almost pagan myth or legend. But over time God revealed, and his people came to understand, new truths, better ways, and a deeper revelation of his character.
This approach gives new and exciting understandings that remove many difficulties and open up new appreciations of the character of God.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But after 50 years as a christian, trying to serve and obey God, having read the Bible right through several times and having read and studied the New Testament in great detail, even undertaking some formal theological study, I believe I have some insights to share.
In the words of Richard of Chichester, I pray that these pages will help you “know him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly”.
Pages to help you on a journey of discovery
Understanding the Bible
- Understand the Old Testament and save your faith – specially written for those questioning the Old Testament.
- Why believe in the Bible? – if we come to the Bible neutrally, are there good reasons to believe in it?
- What scholars tell us about the New Testament – a summary of what secular scholars have concluded.
- What scholars tell us about the Old Testament – a brief outline of what secular scholars have concluded.
- In what way is the Bible a special book? – christians all believe it is special, but is it inspired, without error, the word of God, authoritative, etc?
Reading the Bible
- How to interpret the Bible? – finding God’s way and avoiding the problems.
- How to read the Old Testament – getting past the nasty bits and reading it for what it actually is.
Issues to resolve
- The Exodus – what can we learn? – did it really happen, and what does it teach us?
- The Canaanite genocide – a historical perspective – what really happened and what did God command?.
- The Old Testament Law and Christians – the surprising news is that it doesn’t apply to us!
- The fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy – How accurate were their predictions? Was prediction what they were all about?