"Every war needs killers and they can always be found. We always put ourselves in the skin of the victims and not of their killers - we never put ourselves in the skin of a Nazi or Khmer Rouge. Yet between them and us there is very little difference, no more than between the victim and us." (from this post)
Thanks to those who took the time to comment on my last post about those yucky Bible passages. I was nodding my head at times as I read each of them. They are things I've either encountered in this book, The Human Faces of God by Thom Stark, or not so long ago in other books. It was kind of neat seeing them restated by all of you!
So what does the author suggest we do about those disturbing passages in
the Bible? Instead of glossing over them, ignoring them, or cutting
them out of our text, we should retain and condemn them!
His argument throughout the book is that while the Bible may be inspired
by God, it is not inerrant. It argues with itself and he believes God
wants us to wrestle with the text, with what is stated and then come to
just solutions for our societies.
Why acknowledge these texts are there? Why not cut them out completely?
Because they are there. And they shape many of our backgrounds more
than we realize. He suggests the Bible is a mirror. It shows the good
and bad of human nature. It shows what we are capable of. What we are
capable of justifying in God's name! How many of us are appalled
at radical Muslims who strap bombs to themselves and say "God is
greater" right before blowing themselves up and often killing fellow
Muslims? How many of us are stunned that the Crusaders and people today
of their same mindset can kill others because they believe God would
have it that way? And Jews who believe the land is theirs and if people
are in the way they've got to go. Either they need to leave or face
unpleasant consequences. All because God - the scapegoat - said so.
The Bible shows not perfect people, but imperfect prophets, kings,
patriarchs and ordinary folks. Yes, even amongst the "chosen people."
You want to destroy your enemies? You want to keep virgin women as your
own after conquering their people? OK, write the history and say God
commanded it. Simple as that.
"The Bible reflects our doubt and our mediocrity. It mirrors our best
and worst possible selves. It shows us who we can be, both good and
evil, and everything in between." (pg. 218)
The author quotes John Collins who states, "There is no reason in
principle why a text that is shocking might not be inspired. Such a text
can raise our moral consciousness by forcing us to confront the fact
that immoral actions are often carried out in the name of religion ...
Rather than ask whether a text is revealed (and by what criteria could
we possibly decide?), it is better to ask whether a text is revelatory,
whether we learn something from it about human nature or about the way
the world works. A text that is neither historically reliable nor
morally edifying...may be all too revelatory about human nature." (pg.
You may recall this post
from the American who was hosting a book club in Kosovo. I remembered
her words this morning as I thought about what to write in this post.
...Is their bitterness, their fear so great
that they could do to Serbs what Serbs did to them? Could soft-spoken
Veton burn a Serb village because his own was burned by Serbs? Would
sweet, wide-eyed Enver, who loves basketball and never misses a class,
stand by and watch while atrocities were committed? Could any of these
bright, kindhearted young people kill Serbs because they are Serbs?
And if I were in their shoes, what would I be capable of? Have I come to grips with the darkness in my own heart?
Thom Stark in The Human Faces of God believes God can speak to us through the texts. Whether they
are passages that inspire us, make us feel the love or shock or disgust
us. They mirror humanity, and show us what we are capable of doing to each other.
Feel free to share the texts that inspire or disgust you the most. What
do you think of the author's idea that "their status as condemned is
exactly their scriptural value"? Do you think people are capable of all
sorts of evil or just the rare few? Any other thoughts?