But there are some good parts to it, right? Before it was ever used as the cornerstone of the world’s three largest monotheistic religions, it was, after all, literature.
There are quite a few verses in the Bible that even a complete skeptic can read and accept as something worthwhile. The only problem is that so often most of the religious faithful don’t even know they exist! Let’s set out to discover a few of these, and maybe next time you’re confronted with a Bible-quoting Christian, you can ask them what they think about the Bible verses that say:
Study Hard and Don’t Take Everything on Blind Faith
There are actually three verses I can think of right offhand that clearly say this.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)
This one was actually the motto of my alma mater, a seminary that didn’t seem to heed its own favorite quotation. It unfortunately seems to be saying just to study the Bible, but a quick look at the original Greek here shows that “rightly dividing the word of truth” actually means “to be able to divide out words that are true from other words.” Clearly, this passage means that one should look at everything objectively and not just take its outright English meaning to study the Bible and only the Bible.
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11 KJV)
This verse is discussing the church at Berea, and how they were “more noble” than their brethren in the Thessalonian church because they were actually taking what they had heard in church home and studying to see if it was true. Of course, it does mention they searched the Scriptures exclusively, but at least it makes a point to say they did so with the express purpose of finding out if they were true, and were applauded for it.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)
How many of you have run into a religious person of whom you’ve asked a serious question regarding the reason for their faith, and have received an answer back that blind faith doesn’t require a good reason? Tell that person to guess again. This verse clearly states that, not only should they have a reason, but they had better be ready to discuss it with anyone who asks.
Your Pastor is NOT the Final Authority
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20 KJV)
This doesn’t seem to say what I’m getting at, but bear with me as I delve once again into the original Greek. In my church growing up, this verse was used for the exact opposite of its true purpose, to get people to listen to their pastor and not try to interpret Scripture on their own. Sure, the verse after this alludes to the divine inspiration of Scripture, but this one at least sets out to protect people from all the whackjobs that come along touting themselves as having divine inspiration too. A better English rendering of it might say “Know this thing to be most important, that no teaching of these writings is for any private party to release.”
That would seem to indicate that what the pastor says the Bible means is a “private interpretation,” and should probably be examined with a grain of salt, as one of our other verses above has suggested.
Stop Being Offended by Everything
Anyone who has ever known someone who is faithful to one of the three mainstream Abrahamic religions knows that, unless their church is one of those more liberal organizations that tries to stress how very tolerant they are, religion makes people offended by just about everything. In my younger days, I used to leave the room at the mildest euphemism, turn away when I saw a woman wearing a dress that went any higher than mid-shin, and come down with the fury of a hurricane if I heard anyone question God or the Bible. That’s where the following verse comes in handy.
“Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165 KJV)
…Need I say any more?
You Are God
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Collector’s Edition Boxed Set), something else that once used to highly offend me, makes a plain case for the importance of this one. God appears out of a cloud, and the gallant knights of Camelot fall to the ground, averting their eyes. “Ohhh, stop that!” God cries. “Every time I try to talk to someone it’s ‘sorry this’ and ‘forgive me that’ and ‘I’m not worthy.’”
If you discount all the wars and bloodshed caused by religion, one important aspect of why it is harmful to humanity still stands firm: it takes away the empowerment of the individual and places it on a non-existent third party. Alcoholics Anonymous can’t help you get over your addiction by empowering you, and instead makes you lay your burden at the feet of a “Higher Power.”
But there are two specific places in the Bible where it says that everyone who hears and understands the words being written are themselves gods. Really? Let’s look and see:
“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” (Psalm 82:6 KJV)
No, I’ve heard it argued, that verse is simply talking about people who think they are gods. Just like Solomon’s two-sided soliloquy in the book of Ecclesiastes, which switches back and forth between the righteous Solomon and the sinful Solomon, this verse is from the perspective of sinful men who, like Lucifer, are pridefully trying to take God’s place.
A full reading of the entire Psalm shows God telling the people “Why are you behaving so sinfully? Don’t you know that you are gods?”
Well, it must be a different form of the word god. Notice the small ‘g.’ It’s just saying we’re the children of God, and so we all have a little spark of divinity.
Guess again, again. The Hebrew word there is “Elohim,” which, yes, is the word commonly used as a primary name for God. The case of the letter ‘g’ was made diminutive by the translators.
Jesus even quotes this verse in a way that really brings the point to light:
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:31-36 KJV)
Let’s recap: the Jewish leaders came to Jesus and decided to stone him. Jesus says “I just healed someone who was born blind, and you want to stone me?” They answer “No, we’re not stoning you for healing someone, we’re stoning you because you said that you were able to heal him because you are the Son of God. That’s blasphemy.”
So, some of you reading this may believe in Jesus and call him the Son of God. You may think Jesus is so much greater than you, and you can never do anything good on your own without the power of Christ. Just remember, when Jesus himself was confronted with people calling him the Son of God, his response was “Why are you so concerned that I said I’m the Son of God? The Bible says you ARE gods!”
Just some food for thought the next time you’re talking to a Christian friend. Remember, you may not believe the Bible, but they do. They won’t accept it when you tell them to use their own brain and think logically, or when you tell them there’s no reason to be offended by something, or when you tell them not to rely on their magical Sky Daddy when they have perfectly good potential themselves, but they’ll have to think about it if you can show it to them out of their own Holy Book.