05 October 2008

A philosophical question

I have been wondering this for some time and I have never gotten a good answer, so I will throw it out there to you, my wonderful readers (even though I know many of you are godless heathens): Is it possible to be a Christian and not need the Bible?

I wonder because I hear people talking about their "personal relationship with Christ" and that they talk to Jesus in prayer and that Jesus or God answers them.

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, can't you just ask HIM what you need to know, instead of reading a book? Relying on the Bible instead of talking to Jesus seems kind of like looking up the wikipedia entry on physics when Einstein lives upstairs.

Do you ever come to a point where you are done with the Bible?

Please help a sister out.


Adrienne said...

I am one of whom you speak. I believe there is a "god", call him/her whatever you like. Whether there was a "son" or a whole book written about it that's another story.

I don't subscribe to any religious beliefs, I don't need someone elses doctrine to live by, I live by my own.

I went to Catholic school and have read the bible, both out of need for school and out of want for interesting reading. But I have also read the Torah and the Koran. Honestly? I think all 3 were written by the same schmuck and his desendants are sitting pretty on a nice fortune off of the royalties.

Does that help?

Julie said...

Here is my opinion...
The Bible was written by men. Therefore, while some of the stories may very well be true, I also think there is just SO much that we just don't know. And I figure that is OK with God. I am guessing - based on the God I believe in - that if a total athiest were to meet God and say "I'm really not sure I believe in you" God would probably get that.
The Bible has been rewritten by men so many times that even theologists do not completely understand it. I feel closer to my spirituality when I am in the mountains, or alone with my thoughts. If I crave a book, I reach for things like "God on a Harley" by Joan Brady.
Understanding (or pretending to) understand the history of it all has lead to war and fundamentalists.

LittlePea said...

I think the bible is important for historical and literature purposes. I agree with Julie. It was written by man so we can't really take it for 100% accuracy. I grew up Catholic too. But my parents(who were more devout than the pope himself) even believed that it was more a book of stories from another time than a reference guide. I mean I remember reading about slaves in the book of Proverbs so obviously a particular passage written some thousands of years ago doesn't apply to today... yeah and the part about stoning an adulterous woman or how shameful it is for a man to grow his hair long(even though everyone's image of Jesus always has long hair). So anytime someone uses a bible verse to suit their own purpose(for example to condemn a certain part of society because of the way they were born) they need to be reminded of that.

There are parts of the bible that I find very inspirational and comforting though. But no I don't think it's absolutely needed to have a spiritual connect6ion with God.

Velma said...

I'm not exactly a godless heathen, but I'm not exactly a Christian, either. I think the bible is an amazing document, but I don't think it is strictly the "word of God." I think man wrote it, man revised it, and man has used it as an excuse to commit atrocities on fellow men throughout the years. I guess I view it as a guide - take the good stuff, ignore the stuff that doesn't speak to you. That seems to be what most people do anyway!

lizgwiz said...

I guess I see the Bible as a compendium of great stories and as something of a guidebook. But I don't see anything wrong, once you seem to be finding your way, in not staying glued to it. I don't pick up a map every time I revisit a place, you know?

Anonymous said...

Yeah...I'm done. It's a historical reference...sort of. But the human input (even at its inception) makes it suspect and no longer a divinely inspired text.

thailandchani said...

I think some are comfortable with a more casual approach to reading it.. and others need it for guidance. It's all okay, as far as I'm concerned.

Easy for me to say though since I'm not a part of that tradition. :)

Honestly, I found it very difficult to read and while I could extract the principles for it, the writing is very difficult.

Or maybe I just didn't "get it".

I did enjoy reading it from the framework of cultural anthropology but it didn't "speak to me" the way it does for some others.


Jess said...

I'm pretty casual with my faith. I have a long history as an agnostic, and one of the reasons it took so long for me to settle into one church is that every time I did, someone would shove the Bible at me.

Now, I believe in a God. But every time I read the Bible, the inconsistencies, the archaic reasoning, and the points I don't agree with get me worked up again.

So yes. I do believe there is a point where you make your own decisions, talk to your own God, and don't need to be able to quote chapter and verse of the Book anymore.

Anonymous said...

I am done with the Bible.

In fact, it is one of the main reasons that I no longer consider myself a Christian.

mar said...

i am in a long drought (starting with the passing of my grandmother last april & extended by my 2 hospitalizations a year ago). i've had no urging to read the bible or barely attend service. i love my church, but even after 7 years & finally becoming a member, i don't feel a part of it (that whole participation/socializing thing, which i think is a big thing for you, sb.)
i feel rather guilty about it, but i have no push to read the bible. i still feel there's a relationship with g-d, but it is definitely strained in this season of my life. particularly things i'm going through at this very moment.
i am definitely of the school that it is a fallible, though divinely inspired, book written by men. and i much prefer to read the nt in the original greek when given the opportunity.

mdog said...

my likely unpopular answer to all of your questions is no.

Issa said...

Yes, I'm all for yes. Just like I consider myself non-religious, but I believe in God and Jesus. Doesn't go over well with overly religious people, but that's their problem. I told my grandpa once that I believed in the same god he did, that I believed in Jesus, that I was a good person, made good choices and thought about others before myself...but I'd never choose his religion and he'd need to decide if the god he felt he knew, would judge me badly for not going to church; or him, for not supporting his granddaughter in her faith. Lets just say, we never needed to have that talk again.

Your faith, your spirituality, your relationship with god, is yours alone. Reading a book doesn't/shouldn't change that.

Anonymous said...

My response to your question starts with the premise that we are assuming the Bible is from God. Otherwise the association in this post of believing in God and reading the Bible doesn't make sense. But regarding the analogy of consulting Wikipedia while Einstein is upstairs, even if he did live upstairs I wouldn't want to run up there to ask him about every little thing. Much like when starting a new job, I would find answers wherever I could throughout the day (intranet, co-workers, etc.) and then ask my boss about the remaining questions. Applying the same logic, the Bible would provide a good foundation of knowledge and the personal relationship/conversations with God would fill in the gaps.

SUEB0B said...

I wrote this poorly. I really did want to know from people who are Christians and who use the Bible if they thought it was possible to be a Christian without the Bible. That was my real question, which I did not adequately express.

But I love hearing the rest of you all, too, so I guess it was good to write it all scrambly-like.

mar said...

then in response to your originally intended question, i think the two go hand in hand. christianity & the bible, that is. not just being 'religious'. this would be why i feel guilt about the current state of my religious/christian life.

Adrienne said...

I'm Baaaaack! When I answered your earlier question, I didn't realize I would be going to see the new Bill Maher movie Religulous in the afternoon. They actually address both of your points of your question. It is a must see, no matter what you religion of choice (or lack of religion).

mdog said...

some people are frightened by the idea of christians relying on only a book.

what is more frightening than the idea of christians relying on only what they happen to hear from God/Jesus?

Glennis said...

Wow - what you're kind of asking is "is it possible to profess or believe in a religion without embracing the basic liturgy of the religion."

Every religion has a basic "story" that explains its doctrine and backs it up, and helps its followers apply its principles to day-to-day problems.

The Bible happens to be the Christian back-up.

Sure - it was written by humans, and - let us not forget - it was "filtered" i.e., there were other writings that for political issues within the church were not chosen to be included in the Bible. Also, the Bible as we know it is a translation of ancient writings, in an ancient language - so who knows how faithfully the English version sticks to the original intent.

but the idea that one would abandon the written doctrine of a named religion, and listen to the voices that appear in your head and believe they are the alternate version of the named religion?

that's how new religions are made. I guess a new written doctrine would be set down, recording the pronouncements that manifested themselves to the new believer. Kind of like the Book of Mormon.

I am an uneasy atheist - that is, i don't believe but I wonder....

and I really don't have any need for such things in my life.

SUEB0B said...

@mdog I'm not frightened by either, just curious.

@g - I just wondered about the "personal relationship with Jesus" that people are always talking about. I guess it doesn't seem as personal to me if it is through a book. "Listening to voices" is both a classic symptom of mental illness AND a practice of believers, so I don't know where one draws the line between crazy & faithful.

mdog said...

ah. for the record, the latter part of my post frightens me. :)

i think your question poses a false dichotomy. if you are a christian, you need both. it's not an either/or.

Anonymous said...

I am a Quaker and believe that we each possess the 'light within' that is our spiritual, emotional etc guide. Quakers are typically considered Christians but by definition we certainly don't need the bible (except, as others have mentioned, as a historical reference). Personally, I do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Prophet definitely, of divine being, yeah no. Which, some would say doesn't make me a Christian. Who knows. I do derive a lot pleasure and knowledge from reading Elaine Pagel's work. NPR's Fresh Air also has some really great interviews with her if you are interested. -- from one Passionate, Peace-lovin' Quaker

Anonymous said...

I'm a Missouri Synod Lutheran, and therefore very conservative, so my answer to this is quite opposite of most of the posts.

First, I believe that the Bible is the written inerrant word of God. Written by man, of course, but consider this: If there were errors in the original writing, don't you think that in the intevening 3000 years, somewhere along the line with all of the rewritings and translations, God would have fixed it? 'Hey, you got that wrong, fix it!'

2nd: Romans 10:17 "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."

Also, we are reminded in Luther's Small Catechism that the power of God is given through His Holy Word. It is God’s Word that we are to "hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest . . . that by patience of comfort of Thy Holy Word we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life" which God has given us in Christ Jesus. (Collect for the Word).

And Finally, John 14:6, Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Not A way, truth and life, but THE way, truth, and light. An important distinction, translated the same way every single time.

The only way to know God is to read his Word, because God is in every page, every word of the Bible. By his Holy Spirit the truth of the word is revealed.


SUEB0B said...

Sheri - thanks for your answer. I wonder, though, since you have "scientific" in your name, that you use the Bible to prove the Bible's worth. Wouldn't that be like saying "The theory written in the book is correct because the book says it is correct, and the book says it is never wrong"?

Also, as far as God correcting it, that might also prove that God does not care to correct written works, that it is not that important to God, no matter how important we think it is.

Not trying to be insulting, but just applying my logic to your arguments since you seem to be of a scientific bent.

Project Christopher said...

VERY philosophical question and one I've thought about a lot myself. Not so much do we need the book as much as how can 21st century educated people base their entire judgement structure on what was written/interpreted by men who didn't know what indoor plumbing was, or gender equality was, etc. It strikes me funny that when we bring up the obvious errors between now and then, the right wing christians will pick and choose which they prefer to hold to or say "well, that was another time that doesn't apply to now" Women aren't chatel anymore and cannot be stoned for adultery (thank God) but you can still fight homosexuality with a ferver.

I agree with the lot of you that say its a good guide. There are parables in there that show how to live a good life, but anything that has man interpreting the intent of God will be written by that man's interpretation of what he hears.

What if Moses had been Gay?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Bible states in the New Testament that the Spirit teaches His children. The Bible is useful, especially in the USA where there is, for the most part, a lack of faith due to the elevated importance of logic and reasoning.

Do not get me wrong, the Bible is the Word of God as it states. It is very helpful! It is a supplement to one's growth in faith and one's relationship with Christ. The Bible tells all about God and His nature, which helps us to understand how He works and Who He is. The Bible always has nurturing to offer to the hungry soul. It heals and speaks. After all, it is the LIVING Word of God.

Nothing beats one's personal relationship with Jesus. He is the reason for the Bible. It all leads to Him. The Bible is God's Word, not God Himself (although His "Self" is seen throughout the text).

I hope this helps =)

Whether individuals claim God is fake or not, Someone had to be the catalyst in this world we live in now. Something cannot come from nothing as the Big Bang states (the only other way of Creation; Chance vs a Creator).

Anyways, I digress. Before the Bible was written in its full length, there were those that believed and followed God. They are the ones we read about in the Old Testament. So yes, it is VERY possible to be a Christian (a Believer in Jesus and His death and resurrection to save us) without reading the Bible, although if the Bible is readily available why not make use of it?

The focus is on Jesus; He is the One Who has the power to save, so "fear not," He is with you. =)

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