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Friday, July 18, 2014

Is the Bible an incoherent and meaningless collection of writings?

Many critics of the Christian Bible characterize it as lacking cohesion. They say that it is a collection of disjointed and often rambling compositions that cannot be logically reconciled or connected to each other. Blogger Steve Wiggins recently wrote: "The Bible is not a unified composition." ("Stratego" posted 12 July 2014 on Sects and Violence in the Ancient World) What about those charges? Does a closer examination of Scripture inevitably lead to such a conclusion?

As the long time readers of this blog will readily acknowledge, this writer is no friend to the Fundamentalist view of Scripture. I have pointed out in numerous posts that Scripture is not perfect, and that substantial inconsistencies exist among some of its more important teachings. Nevertheless, an admission of such imperfections and errors does not necessarily mean that Scripture is a hopeless jumble of mishmash that is virtually worthless in terms of providing spiritual and philosophical guidance.

I would argue that there are a number of themes that run throughout Scripture that knit together the various writings (even taking into account the diverse teachings, prophecies and opinions represented within them). In this regard, consider these themes:

1. God - character and personality
2. Laws - commandments, statutes, ordinances, judgments, expectations, etc.
3. Covenants - Adamic, Noachian, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, New or Christian
4. Israel - family, tribes, people and nations
5. Salvation - the redemption of mankind from sin and death
6. The conflict between good and evil, sin and righteousness
7. Survival - the belief in hope in the face of defeat, slavery and subjugation
8. Compassion and empathy - the belief that love is the ultimate solution to all problems/difficulties
9. Meaning and order in an often chaotic and cruel world
10.Worship - the way to honor and respect the Divine

Nothing to unify these "disparate" writings - What book are you looking at? Yes, this writer sees the fingerprints of the human authors all over these writings, but I also see another set of fingerprints on them that demands our attention. What do you think?

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