Reposted from May 29, 2013:
The Bible is not a picky-eater buffet; the Bible is a 66 course meal.
My credentials that are relevant to this post: I graduated from Columbia International University in Columbia, SC with a degree in Bible.
When you’re eating at a buffet, you get to choose which dishes you’re going to eat, and which you will reject or refuse. Eating at a buffet is all about making those choices!
But, when you are invited to a banquet with royalty at Buckingham palace, and the staff serves you dish after dish, are you going to treat this formal dinner in the same way?
I suspect not!
I suspect…that you will eat at least a little of every course set before you, because you are conscious of the desire not to offend your hostess, the queen, or her staff. Wouldn’t you also be on your best behavior and use your best manners? Wouldn’t you want to be invited back?
The Bible is a lot like that banquet! Now; the queen of England isn’t going to serve you 66 courses…
But…the Bible contains 66* books!
God, the King of Kings; the primary author and final authority for the human co-authors of each of these books, is the ultimate royalty–
When you sit down to study and read the Bible, you may read only a portion of a book or several books, but that portion must be interpreted in the context of all the other parts and concepts included in Bible. It isn’t reasonable nor does it do justice to the Bible to consider any one little part on its lonesome, discombobulated from the whole. You wouldn’t do that to anyone else’s book; why would you dissect the Bible in this way?
We also don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible God views as important or historical, or accurate.
Some parts are poetic, true; but the Bible makes it clear which books are more poetic and intended to be taken not quite as literally, and which books are literal and historical fact. Regardless of writing style, the entirety of the Bible is a historical whole; a single document created for our edification.
Oh, and I love that word; edification! It’s the spiritual equivalent of eating healthy food.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 affirms that, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
When God set out to communicate with us in a living document whose writing spanned centuries and the lifetimes of more than 70 different authors, He wasn’t interested in providing us with spiritual junk food. You won’t find “feel goodism” anywhere in the Bible. You won’t find any fluffy sentiments, either!
God shares a lot of hard to swallow truths with us in His Word about where sin came from; how sin warps our perception of Him, ourselves, and the world we live in; what we need to do about our sin problem which separates us from God; and how, even when we have accepted Him into our lives and are seeking to follow Him, that life is never going to be a bed of roses.
He also shares with us the good news that by accepting this path that leads us onward and upward, often at a high cost, we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, and gain a place for ourselves for eternity with Him. He uses the authors who wrote His message down for us to encourage and exhort us to daily look to God for strength and healing, and seek to be the best that we can be at all of the virtues that God prizes.
What does this have to do with my books and writing?
A lot, as it so happens! I write fantasy and science fiction from a Christian perspective. This means that I do sometimes quote the Bible in my books, and reference biblical concepts and ideas. When I do this, I make an effort to quote in context, and to accurately reflect the meanings and principles contained in those passages, as consistent with the entirety of the biblical text.
*The Protestant Bible includes 66 books. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles include all of those books, plus the Apocrypha; and the Greek Orthodox Bible includes several more books in the Apocrypha than the R.C.’s do. Each of these versions also contain additions to several books that do not appear in the Protestant version.
I’ve made it a point to read the Apocrypha so that I could discuss them intelligently. I understand why these books are considered uninspired by Protestant churches, and are not included in the Protestant Bible. While they are historic documents, containing certain historic accounts for which they are the primary source of information, the quality and clarity of the writing displayed in these documents does not measure up to the rest of the Bible.