Please note: What I have to say about the Bible (or for that matter anything in this web site) is my opinion, which I offer freely. Like old Socrates, I act as the goad to thought; my opinions will hopefully stir up your reason to produce your own solutions. So, gentle reader, keep an open mind and read on.
Also, remember: The Good does not necessarily make you give up your own beliefs; it merely widens your view so that you can carry out the second great commandment of God with all others on earth, free of the hindrances of doctrinal differences.
The Romans believed in many Gods and Goddesses, a deity of some kind controlled practically every aspect of their lives. They were also very superstitious in that they thought that fate could be changed or controlled by knowing the will of the Gods. Thus they relied on omens and oracles to reveal the will of the Gods to them. Their children wore the “Bulla” 1 around their necks to protect them from the “fascinatio” or evil eye, and even their conquering Generals wore the bulla to protect them from the envy of the crowds in their triumphal processions.
The ancient Hebrews were also like them, but they conceived of but a single God that ruled over them. This is the God of the bible. The bible is esteemed as the revealed Word of this God, by many peoples, even to this day.
But how does a human really get to know God? Many follow the traditions of their fathers and mothers, and follow the faith that is accepted by their family. Others, when older, often fall away from these faiths, frustrated by dogma and what they see as fanaticism, and search for a new faith, that conforms more to what they conceive of as God. Today Jews and Christians alike see the bible as the revealed Word of God, but each sees this God in their own way. They both follow the bible and the same God, but somehow, they make this same God into their own image. I wrote an essay on this website called “What is Truth?”, in which I discuss some of this. I will now quote the conclusion I came to in that essay:
“This truth that Christ mentions is the ultimate truth of humanity. Not a rational truth at all; in point of fact, outside of the rationality of Plato or of Science today. This is a truth that lives in all humans' hearts, that is above denotation or connotation, and not relative only to the individual. Understood by all humans universally, for it lives in all, and is defined by humanity itself, in its humanity. This is the Good I have mentioned before. It is the truth that creates human societies and motivates the human search for a government that serves and benefits all equally – the ultimate search for what Plato termed Justice.”
There is no doubt that the bible contains the Word of God. But it is the Word of God interpreted by those who assembled the bible, and by those who wrote the bible. A book must, in the final analysis, be interpreted by its reader or writer; that reader or writer must interpret it from his or her own frame of reference; this is irrefutable fact. But as I have mentioned in the quote above, there is a truth that lies outside of a human’s interpreting apparatus, a truth not colored by culture; a truth that is “absolute”. That truth is the truth that allows human to work with his or her fellows to create their societies; that same truth that allows a human to form a trust with another without expecting anything in return; that truth is in fact the truth that the bible mentions that God wrote in the hearts of every man and woman in the new covenant prophesied in the bible (Jeremiah 31:33). 2
The core of the bible is contained in the following:
The Book of Job
Here the bible shows the struggle of a human to find faith in the face of the brutality of mortality. Many turn away from God, because they blame God for the losses that they experience, at what they perceive to be a fate God controls (see the essay: “The Good and evil”).
“…I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts” (Italics are mine)
This prophesizes the “New covenant” and how it shall be fulfilled. It was fulfilled by the Christ, “And the Word was made flesh…” (John: 1:14), and by the Word also being made flesh, as stated above, in the heart of every human in the New covenant. The revealed Word of God was now a part of every man and woman.
Matthew: 22:37 - 40
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
This is the heart of the new covenant mentioned above. In the world today we see that the first great commandment, is often not achieved; the very reason for this is that a human is afraid to achieve the perfect love, which it entails. Love of neighbor, through the agency of the Good, will eventually bring the human to it.
Beyond this, the bible is a book that points to a God of a certain people, at different times and in different cultural periods, whose word is interpreted by writers and editors of different times and cultures. There is no doubt that what the bible says is generally good and leads to God. But in many ways the effects of the bible are not good, because it is only a book that must always be interpreted by the reader in the present, and by the culture of its interpreter. And that is why God created the New Covenant with mankind. In essence he wrote his bible in every man and woman’s heart. A bible that would never go out of date, or be behind the times, for it lives with every generation in their hearts. Always interpreted in the present, for every culture and creed or race, for it is born in all alike; it is a type of gravity, which draws all of mankind together, in love and cooperation. It differs from the bible in that it leaves all divisions and dogmatic separations behind, by utilizing the perfect trust of the Good that is a part of all.
The Devil of mortality thrives on the separation of mankind into small groups or alienated individuals. By excluding the society of others, he breeds contempt and hatred, and narrows the Good to exclude the love that generates cooperation and trust. Only in fellowship can a human find the perfect love that will unite it with God.
This trust itself is a leap to faith. Most of the problems in this world today are due to the absence of trust. A baby trusts implicitly; it must, since it is totally dependent on its environment for sustenance. But the problem is that the mortal world cannot always be trusted; in fact it must not always be trusted, for the consequences could lead to destruction. So the parents must teach it to learn where it can place its trust. But the human social environment around it is often very much the same, in that trust, at least in some environments (e.g. the inner city) can in fact also lead to destruction. But the parents must in fact, bite the bullet, and not give in to the fear of trust. They must still raise their charges with the love and trust that will allow them to accept all as brothers and sisters. You see there is a vicious cycle here that must be broken; the society that has arisen through the lack of trust, was born by individuals who were bread not to trust society for fear of it. Broken individuals generate a broken society, and the broken institutions that further it. Today people find the way out by trusting in their religious groups to provide the trust and love for their children to grow on, but often that merely leads them to distrust all outside their group. 3 So in a way it creates the same problem as above mentioned. Once outside their group they distrust all around them, and advance the very same type of society they wanted to destroy. The trust and love of religion is a trust and love that knows no bounds or limitations, it does not separate, but unites all together. If the bible is the revealed Word of God, then why does it separate, instead of uniting? Because like the ancient Hebrews we create churches who try to own God. No people own God, but God owns all people. His love is boundless and reflects the unity of the human race within it, as we reflect this same unity within us, if we will only accept it.
In the middle ages the church became an institution that enslaved the minds of mankind. The church‘s function to lead all mankind to God through fostering unity, trust, love and cooperation, was replaced by a church, which used control, hate and oppression to create a tyranny of mankind, which said it represented God. It found its support for this in its interpretation of the bible. The bible represents many views and prejudices of the ancient people who wrote it. The God of the Old Testament was an angry, vengeful, jealous God, with all the prejudices of the arrogant and proud people who thought that they were his chosen people. Yet by the time of the Christ He had become the loving, forgiving God that Christ told us about. God did not change, but his people had. They had been changed by the Good inside of each of them – by that same New Covenant that the prophet Jeremiah had heralded, and that the Christ fulfilled with his blood, that would become the living bible in their hearts. Today, hate, oppression, discrimination and separation hide behind the doctrines and interpretations of a good book. They take refuge in the small righteous groups that look on others as outsiders or “different”. There are no outsiders where God is concerned, God accepts all, and finds all as equal in his sight. His doctrine is simple and plain to all of us: Accept all with true love, as He accepts you.
1 The Bulla was a round hollow ball-like locket of Gold (for the rich “Bulla Aureus”) or leather (for the poor), which all Roman children wore, from the time they were accepted into the family (the susceptio), until they reached manhood (for the male), or married (for the female). Inside was an amulet that protected them from the evil eye.
2 All quotes of "The Holy Bible" are from the King James Version, 1988 by Thomas Nelson Inc.
3 José Ortega Y Gasset, in the book “Mission of the University” (Princeton University Press, 1944) says: "In a book of a Chinese thinker who lived in the fourth century B.C., Chuang-tsu, certain symbolic characters are conversing together, and one of them, called the God of the Northern Sea asks, “How shall I talk of the sea to the frog, if he has never left his pond? How shall I talk of the frost to the bird of the summer land, if it has never left the land of its birth? How shall I talk of life with the sage, if he is the prisoner of his doctrine?” " Our religions today have indeed become the prisoners of their doctrines.
Originally Published:December 9, 2007
Revised:June 24, 2014