What if you’re just holding it (the bible) upside down?

bible with heartI absolutely love this quote:

“If the Bible is God’s instruction manual on how 2 live life, Jesus is God’s instruction manual on how 2 read the Bible.” Bruxy Cavey

Early on in my transformation, as I was allowing God to redefine everything, we started looking at how we read the Bible. The reason why, was that I was finding a new Jesus, a new Message, a new Love, a new Grace, a new Church, and it kinda seemed a little too good to be true. What happens if I was just defining everything in ways that I wanted to be able to feel good, to make God in my image and control him. To be honest human beings have been doing this for centuries, I am not immune. Besides why does the “church” teach something so different?

I decided I would relook at how to interpret the Bible. Once I had done that, I figured I would be able to check these new ideas against this new more accurate interpretation of the Bible. I also then started learning about different epistemologies. Basically what I have come to believe is that I had been reading the bible incorrectly in my religious days, the very thing I feared I was doing now, I had actually been guilty of all along. It is a tough statement to make, and I am sorry if it offends, but I have done my best to be honest and accurate and yet I believe most christianity is currently reading the bible wrong, they might as well be holding it upside down.

Ok, I don’t want to bash, in fact the reason that reinventing the way I read the bible was so important to me, and can be for others, is that when we are being set free of religion but still read the bible religiously, too many people toss the bible out. It makes the bible something that trips them up on the road to freedom, instead of being something that sets them free from religion.

So to show there is something’s wrong with how we read the bible, let me illustrate by asking some questions and making some statements:

  • You talk about a God of love, but I just don’t see that in the Old Testament
  • I have always thought that God was only punishing sin on the cross, I have never been taught that God was curing sin on the cross
  • New Testament Christians didn’t believe in the rapture?
  • If the Bible is objective truth, then why does the church worldwide have so many different interpretations on the same passages, interpretations that they defend so dogmatically, that they are willing to separate and form different denominations and movements?
  • Did you know that the Gospel and salvation are not the same thing?

What I love about that Bruxy Cavey quote is that he exposes one of the main ways we mess up the bible for ourselves, thinking that we can find all of life’s answers in it. I believe the only way we can accurately and unreligiously interpret the bible is by reading it through the person Jesus. What does that mean? I think it means that if you want to know what God is like, don’t read the Old Testament, first get to know Jesus in the Gospels, and then go find him in the Old Testament.

The Bible is not a book of answers, it’s not a book on how to be a great leader, it’s not a book of what’s right or what’s wrong and it’s not a book of principles for successful living or self-fulfillment, it is not suppossed to be used to win an argument, it shouldn’t be used to control others and it is not the “Word of God”. Ok just keep breathing. The bible as I understand it is a bunch of books written by men telling their story. These men were inspired by God and so they tell his story as well. The story God is telling is his story about his son, Jesus, so that when Jesus says that he is the Word of God, he is saying the bible isn’t. As John Wimber said:

“The bible is like a menu, it describes the meal, it isn’t the meal.”

I think that one of the traps we fall into with the Bible, is that we make it to be things for us that it is not and never claimed to be. The Bible is meant to reveal Jesus to us. Jesus himself said this. In fact at the end of Luke on the road to Emmaus and then right after that in Jerusalem Jesus spends time with the disciples teaching them a different way to interpret the scriptures. This is really important I think because if your read the New Testament it does exactly this, it finds Jesus in the Old Testament, and then finds him living in their midst through the Holy Spirit in the New.

The mistake we all make so often is to make truth a matter of the head, of understanding, of more knowledge. What God I believe wants us to get is that the Word of God is a revolutionary, unreligious person called Jesus Christ, his son, and that when we have a relationship with him, truth will become a matter of the heart. So that instead of us being divided by the bible, instead of us being controlled by it, or using it to control others, we will have a relationship with Jesus, the Word of God, and in so doing we will stand together in his love for us and extend a welcoming hand to those who have yet to know his transforming love for them.

sorry for the long post, I hope it was worth the read 😉

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11 thoughts on “What if you’re just holding it (the bible) upside down?

  1. Reblogged this on Grace Vagabond and commented:
    This is a great post by Justin Mulder. He expresses many things about how important it is to hold proper regard for the contents of the Bible, as a collection of inspired works which tell the story of God, but is not God, and should not be regarded as such. He expresses many thoughts I’ve had and shared on Grace Vagabond, as well. I hope you find them uplifting and they encourage you to delve deeper into the relationship that lives within you between your spirit and the Spirit of Christ.

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  2. This past year has been a great blessing to me, specifically because of the new way I have been reading the stories of God and man. I think first and foremost is the reading each book as a complete book, ignoring the chapter breaks. If you are looking for short pithy sayings, read Proverbs; poems, see Psalms. But generally the books are internally cohesive and self-explanatory. Any how this has expanded my trust in God’s word, and certainly my trust in Him.

    Trust God.

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  3. Not gibberish! A lot of people have been writing similar thoughts lately. If I may: http://www.searchingtogether.org/blog/?p=155

    http://jamaljivanjee.com/2012/01/know-when-to-capitalize-the-letter-w-a-2012-new-year-resolution

    /http://notesfromthebridge.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/i-follow-a-person-not-a-book/

    So just in case you were the only voice of one crying out in the wilderness! All three of those brothers have left the institutional church. Actually, one of them was never a part; how blessed is he!

    Of course, these are all echoes of Karl Barth who said that the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is to lay a foundation other than Christ.

    Blessings to you on your journey!

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    1. Thanks Chris for those articles you have posted, I look forward to reading them soon. It is so exciting to relate to God’s truth as a person. The bible has become the most exciting book to me because of this discovery

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  4. You have hit the nail on the head!! I am a firm believer that the whole Bible (yes, even those oft-quoted passages from Paul and Leviticus used to keep people in their place) should be interpreted through the lens of Jesus. And figuring out what exactly Jesus was up to is quite a journey in itself, isn’t it?? We HAVE to stop wasting time using the Bible to prove that others are wrong or that they don’t belong. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Justin.

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    1. Totally dude, I reckon if you want to use the bible to settle an argument, get the Hardcover Family Edition of the KJV and swing it hard. But to sit down and have a conversation with Jesus, to find him in the shadows of the Old and the activity of the New Testament, is alive, is an adventure I am really enjoying.

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