Marla Taviano (@marlataviano) is a lady whose blog I have been following for some time now and whose writing I very much enjoy.
She is wife to Gabe (@godsmac), mother of 3 beautiful girls and the author of 4 books. She and her family are currently doing research for a new book, for which they have to visit 52 zoos in 52 weeks. I’ve been following their progress and it’s quite amazing what God is doing as they attempt to achieve that goal.
Marla has kindly agreed to be ou guest blogger this week and I am very honored to be able to introduce her to some of you. If, after reading her article, you want to read more by her, just pop on over to her blog at www.marlataviano.com
So, make yourself some smores and toast some marshmallows because I give you:
So What Should We Do with the Bible – by Marla Taviano
Eager commenters immediately began chiming in, and somewhere, somehow, the responses shifted from President Obama and party lines to matters of faith.
Lots of questions raised. Here’s a smattering: Is the Bible absolute truth, a book of fairy tales, or some happy medium? Are Christians really being “persecuted” as some of them claim, or are those just the extremists—crazies that need to be silenced? Is there such a thing as sin, or are we all free to choose our own moral code as long as we don’t hurt others? Why are Christians so adamant about using the word “relationship”—what the heck is wrong with the word “religion?”
Great questions. Tough answers. You’re more than welcome to join the conversation here. I don’t reckon we’ll have solved all our differences anytime soon.
When Peter asked me awhile back to be a guest on his blog, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of a compelling topic. Then, during the course of this week’s conversation, God dropped one in my lap.
A great place to start since everyone and his brother has an opinion about the Bible. For our purposes here, I’m going to divide them into three camps.
Camp #1—Those who believe that the whole thing is hogwash, a bunch of ludicrous fairy tales, an insult to intelligent people across the globe.
Camp #2—Those who believe that the Bible is a book to be cut and pasted like a Word document. Embrace the parts you like, take comfort from the happy passages, use certain verses to prove points, make allegories out of the impossible scenarios, and throw out the rest.
Camp #3—Those who believe the Bible is the inspired Word of the only true God (2 Timothy 3:16)—written by humans, yes, but humans who were filled with the Holy Spirit and given the words by God Himself. Oh, and they take it literally—they think the stuff in the Bible actually applies to us in 2009. Living and active, they call it (Hebrews 4:12).
So, who lives in these camps?
Well, Camp #1 is generally where the atheists hang out. Some people who live there believe in a higher being, but he/she/it certainly had nothing to do with the piece of trash called the Bible. The world would be a better place if we could eradicate the blasted thing for good.
Camp #3 is inhabited by those who call themselves believers, followers of Christ, sinners saved by grace—you get the idea. But people in the other camps tend to call them by different names—right-wing fundamentalists, narrow-minded Bible-thumpers, intolerant bigots, and a host of other monikers that aren’t for the squeamish.
And Camp #2, oddly enough, is comprised of a nice little mixture of people. Agnostics. Catholics. Buddhists. Baptists. Preachers. Professors. Democrats. Republicans. People who embrace all faiths. People who go to the same church every Sunday. People who don’t really care.
Given a minute to address each camp, what would I say?
Well, frankly, there’s not a whole lot to say to Camp #3. That’s where I live, and it’s pretty cut-and-dry (not to be confused with cut-and-paste). We believe the Bible. Period. The fact that we use a period instead of an ellipsis (dot dot dot) or a series of parentheses (filled with clauses) is what irks people in the other camps. Periods symbolize closed-mindedness, intolerance, absolutes. We should use open-ended sentences… Or at the very least, punctuate with question marks.
And Camp #1? I do have a word for my friends who live there. A question actually. Why do you think it is, Campers, that the Bible is so violently opposed and despised by those in your establishment? If it’s just a bunch of silly fictional stories, I really don’t get all the seething, vitriolic, profanity-laced commentary about it plastered all over the internet (and everywhere else).
What’s the big deal?
So, a bunch of loony Christians believe a book that couldn’t possibly be true. Just chuckle at them and move on. There are a lot of kooks out there—why single out the Christians? Why waste your precious time and energy being livid at a passel of backward folks who’ve confused God with Grimm?
Leave them to their un-enlightenment. Sit down, lean back, put your arms above your head, and bask in your intellectual superiority.
That’s what I’d do.
And now, for Camp #2. Ah, I could write a book to Camp #2. But Peter asked me to keep it under 2,000 words.
I considered making some tired analogy like, “When you buy a piece of furniture unassembled, what’s wrong with discarding the instructions, putting it together however you’d like, and leaving out the pieces you ‘disagree’ with?”
Or, “Can you pick and choose which parts of your business contract you’re going to adhere to, which parts of your marriage vows you’re going to keep, or which…” Oh, wait. We do that all the time.
For those of you in Camp #2 who call yourselves Christians, I’ll pull a C.S. Lewis and say it’s all or nothing, baby. Well, he didn’t say that exactly, but he did say this (paraphrased): “Jesus said he was God. Either he really is, or he’s a liar. Or a lunatic. But a nice, harmless spiritual guide? Impossible.”
If I lie to you about one thing, everything else I’ve ever said is called into question (Girl Who Cried Wolf). If one thing in the Bible is false, we can’t be expected to trust in any of it. If you’re going to discredit part of it, you have to discredit it all.
I’m sending this document to Peter with the understanding that he’ll post it whole and untouched. If he cuts and pastes, adds his own thoughts and deletes some of mine, he’s compromised the entire thing. You have no way of knowing my original intent. The whole thing is nullified.
Oh, I could ramble twice as long, but I’ve about overstayed my welcome. So I’d like to invite all of you (regardless of your camp affiliation) to join me for a little chat around the campfire next week over at my place
You bring your unique insight and experiences; I’ll provide the marshmallows (minus the fluff).
In the meantime, feel free to share with the rest of us a little snippet of life in Your Camp (especially if you feel I’ve misrepresented it).
Thanks for having me, Peter! Have a great weekend, friends!
Thank you Marla, I hope you can come back and guest-post for us again some time.
In the mean time, whatever camp you’re in, you can visit Marla in her camp at: www.marlataviano.com