Last time I listed some of the problems with reading and learning from the Bible, but the list goes on and on. For example: Variations in original texts: If the words are different from original to original, which ones are to be believed? Which are the oldest? Which ones most accurately reflect the oral tradition that preceded them?
Emotional response: We can become so caught up in the beauty or horror of the texts (e.g., Jews burning their children alive as sacrifices to false gods in the Book of Judges) that we can't discern what the words are meant to teach us.
Loyalty: Some readers rely solely on one translation of the Bible (e.g., the so-called “Scofield” Bible that's taken as – excuse the pun – gospel by those who support the idea of “the Rapture”).
Validity: Closely tied to loyalty, there is debate over which books belong in the Bible. The Catholic version contains all or parts of several books not found in the Jewish Bible (known as the Old Testament to Christians) or accepted by Protestants, who label these texts the Apocrypha (“false teaching”).
Doubts about authenticity: Scripture “scholars” who belong to the Jesus Seminar study and then vote on which of Jesus' quoted words were most likely spoken by him. To do this 2,000 years after the fact is cheeky, to say the least, and inspires doubts about whether the Jesus narrative is true.
Intellectualism: Much of the Bible's true meaning is simply beyond the grasp of well-meaning, studious people who only let the words enter their minds. As Paul confessed in Romans, there's a difference between knowing the words and living by them.
Pride: The belief that we can understand it on our own.
My question: Can you spot the one common denominator in all these problems? I'll reveal it next time.