Saturday, August 14, 2010

Keep Reading

Jana Chapman Gates has a problem: many of the passages of the Bible strongly suggest that yes is the answer to Does God Hate Women?, and as you might guess from the given name Jana, she is a woman. Not only that, but she is a woman who cares what certain characters from middle-eastern fables think of her because she has convinced herself that these characters are real.

The result? Cognitive dissonance. Ouch!

Regrettably, this is a common problem, but don't worry, because she kept reading until she found a solution:

Thumbing through the pages [of The Reason for God], I came across a passage where Tim Keller lays out a recommendation for how to approach sections of the Bible that seem confusing.
Many people run from any consideration of the Bible once they find such a biblical passage. I counsel them instead to slow down and try out several different perspectives on the issues that trouble them. That way they can continue to read, learn, and profit from the Bible even as they continue to wrestle with some of its concepts. One possibility I urge them to consider is that the passage that bothers them might not teach what it appears to them to be teaching. Many of the texts people find offensive can be cleared up with a decent commentary that puts the issue into historical context.
I'd been doing exactly the opposite of what Keller recommended. I'd run from God when I felt uncomfortable, instead of digging deeper to find out more about him.
So there you have it. If at first the holy writ you're reading seems to say things you know to be false, or suggests you're doomed to eternal torment for what you're doing or not doing, or sets you below your peers for the reproductive organs with which you were born or born without, or whatever, follow the advice of Tim Keller via Jana Chapman Gates: keep re-reading until it is more agreeable and less demeaning.

The Bible and the Koran are sacred, error-free, and direct from the manufacturer of the universe, but let's not get carried away: there's still context and history to be hunted down if what they say seems unjust, dumb, or wrong.

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