“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.” — First Commandment
Unless you’ve lived in a cave, it’s impossible not to have noticed in recent years the many attacks on Christianity that seem to be growing under the current administration.
The most recent government-endorsed bigot to rear his head in a public attack against the Bible is Dan Savage, a gay activist with a “husband” and a huge chip on his shoulder. During a recent appearance at a high school journalism conference, Savage was supposed to deliver an anti-bullying message but instead started spewing hate-filled anti-Christian bile, using phrases like “bulls*** in the Bible.”
Hundreds of students had the good taste and strength of character to walk out, but Savage still received applause from much of the remaining audience.
In March, a so-called “Reason Rally” was held in Washington, D.C., during which several thousand atheists got to listen to speakers insult Judeo-Christian beliefs and encourage attendees to do likewise.
Despite the billing as a rally for “reason,” the speakers, including celebrity nihilist Richard Dawkins, put their ignorance of the Bible on display for the world to see, but much of what they said didn’t even raise an eyebrow among the media or anyone else.
Jews and Christians and their many denominations may disagree, sometimes wildly, on interpretation of scriptures and even what may constitute scriptures, but most Bible believers would agree that ignorance of what the Bible actually says is widespread and becoming more common.
When someone like Savage can say with a straight face that the Bible promotes slavery and not be laughed out of the building, then the Bible message clearly is not getting through. You can’t really expect much from the Savages, who are all about hate, but more of the audience should have realized the absurdity of what he was saying.
If the Bible is about anything, it’s about human freedom. From the Garden of Eden, through the Exodus, to the Resurrection and Revelation, the Bible tells a consistent story about the enslavement of man through sin and his eventual freedom through cultivating a personal relationship with God.
But that tale gets twisted and mutilated by people who deliberately misread or who don’t know how to read the Bible. Everything has a context, and without that context, true meanings get lost. Not every sentence of the Bible is meant to be an eternal commandment. Many of God’s orders to his followers had to deal with specific circumstances in specific places and times and make sense in light of those facts.
Part of context is learning to understand the historical environment of a given passage. Modern atheists — who are every bit as religious as any “theist,” just focused on self-worship and their own anger — love to quibble about things like a mention in some translations about rabbits being animals that chew cud. This sort of thing is apparently a big ah ha! moment for atheists, but realizing how the original words were used resolves any issues with the passage.
The same goes for any of the atheists’ infamous lists of “contradictions” in the Bible. Simply understanding that the Bible is not one book but a collection of books, written by many different authors in many different styles and for various purposes, makes supposed contradictions evaporate. Those sorts of imagined contradictions are almost always the equivalent of saying that Joseph Conrad contradicts Mark Twain on the subject of riverboats. Clearly, they are two different authors writing on a similar subject but from completely different viewpoints.
Mostly what’s lacking in the biblical interpretations of people like Savage and Dawkins is any sense of humility and capacity for self-reflection. Approaching the Bible requires both, for in its pages we will often find condemnation of things we ourselves have done. Closing ourselves to that recognition is just another form of idol worship, with ourselves as the golden calves.
The Savages and Dawkinses of this world choose instead to worship themselves, and they are so blinded by that choice they can see nothing else, even the obvious.