The Bible Tells Me… What?

So here I am, again, writing about The Bible Tells Me So — which I already reviewed here. I’ve continued mulling over the book, bothered by various things. I wanted to return and complete my earlier representation of my experience with it here. Basically, I think it reflects some degree of scholarly hubris on the

On debating God

More than once in The Bible Tells Me So, Peter Enns affirms the tradition of debate in Judaism. I wanted to offer an extended quotation toward the end of the book that captures that tradition. I love the picture it gives us of God:

A famous story from the Talmud, Judaism’s early medieval core text on Jewish faith and life, records a debate between rabbis. The debate is over whether an oven that has been made impure could be purified and used again.

The majority opinion was no but one rabbi, Eliezar, argued the opposite, but, alas, to no avail. Exasperated by his colleagues’ dim-wittedness, he challenged them with some miracles. If I am right, he said, may that tree over there move — whereupon the tree picked itself up and moved about the length of a football field. But the others weren’t convinced. They were certain their argument from the Bible was sure, and no moving tree was going to convince them otherwise.

Eliezar wouldn’t give up. He called a stream to reverse course and then the walls of the house to bend inward, but the others responded the same way. Finally, Eliezar asked whether hearing the heavenly voice of God himself would convince them, at which point the voice of God declared that Eliezar was absolutely right.

This didn’t work either. The others responded that God had already given his Torah on Mount Sinai. In that Torah we read that God’s commands are “not in heaven” but right here, available to all. God himself is bound by his own recorded words in Torah, and so even his heavenly voice can’t change that.

At hearing this, God laughed with delight. “My children have defeated me! My children have defeated me!”

This story illustrates something Judaism seems to have a good handle on but that many Christians do not: debating each other, and debating God, is what God wants. (Peter Enns, The Bible Tells Me So)

Reflections on the Bible

Peter Enns’ Evolution of Adam was one of my favorite reads of 2013. So I didn’t think twice about tackling his newer book The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It. This one has a similar purpose — recalibrating our expectations of the Bible. But it leaves me

Diaspora

I’ve been musing over some things I read in the notes to my chronological Bible recently. They seemed to me to suggest a compelling parallel between post-exilic Jews and modern American Christians. In the transition into the book of Esther, the commentary points out that the book’s purpose was to encourage Jews living in a

Violence in the Bible: Some Useful Sources

I think I’m done writing out my questions and thoughts-in-process on this subject for awhile. (I’m actually taking a reading detour into an Elizabeth Goudge novel right now and leaving this pot to simmer in the back of my mind and heart.) But I want to record here a few of the relevant ideas and

Cosmic battle, human war

I wrote this post last week, and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder. It’s such a sensitive subject, and I am so very much “in process” in mulling over it. But I know that as my understanding grows, I’ll want to remember the stepping stones along the way, and this is one of them.

Worth Reading

Greg Boyd, who wrote Letters from a Skeptic, has a post called Getting Honest about the Dark Side of the Bible. It touches on the subject of his upcoming book: Crucifixion of the Warrior God. It looks like one I must read, because it concerns violence in the Bible. But unlike *Eric Seibert’s The Violence

Old Testament Struggles

Our church is “doing” The Story, a resource that helps churches to experience the overarching themes of the Bible together within the span of a year. It’s an abridgement that puts the Bible into chronological order and divides it into 31 chapters. I have mixed feelings about it in some ways, but we are off

Two Ways of Reading

…I believe that most people who read the Bible as Scripture do so in one of two ways: compliantly or conversantly… …Compliant readers are individuals whose basic instinct is to read the Bible trustingly. Those who read this way accept the Bible’s claims, adopt its values, and embrace its assumptions without necessarily giving serious consideration

The Violence of Scripture

“Is this a good story, or a bad story?” Some friends were over, and the kids were watching Prince of Egypt. They were up to the plagues, before we even got to the part where the firstborn sons are all killed, and before the Egyptian army and all their horses are drowned, when the little