First Posted 05-Nov-2014
This one had me going, “If God is perfect why is his book so full of flaws, mistakes and general mess?” God is perfect. His Word is perfect. Us, humans, however, not so much. The Bible is a perfect reflection of God’s resurrected kingdom and some of its history. If there is any common thread to human history it is that disagree far more than we agree. I am always suspicious of those who want a sanitized history that doesn’t reflect our ability to find conflict in the smallest of issues.
Is it ethical to keep your face in your phone for the whole four hours of a date? Is it polite to make Google Hangouts the goto instead of f2f? What about Instagram? Is iOS more kosher than Android? Is Windows Phone halal? Is it too forward to buy Godiva chocolate instead of reliable old Hershey’s? Can you wear bright pink tights in Winter paired with a forest green wool skirt and a low-cut teal blouse? Push-up bra or regular t-shirt bra? Would stripper heels go with that? Maybe flats? I don’t know. (WTF, Alan!? Are you confessing something here?)
I know my Bible and it’s no help at all with any of this. Then, let’s say we wrote a bible that solved these conundrums. It was perfect for me. What about you? Would it be perfect for you? What if it wasn’t? After Moses, others wrote their own ten commandments. Two links to examples: Socialist Ten Commandments and Eleven Satanic Rules. I find these two examples to be evil. They have their followers, though.
Constantine got so tired of the bickering among various sects in the empire that he called everyone together and convened the Nicene Council to choose a canon as the collected books of the Bible. Even then, the canon given by the Catholic Church is different from the Eastern Orthodox church and yet again different from various Reformed traditions. We can’t even agree on which books belong in the canon and which books should be left out. Every bible in the English language is a translation by a committee of editors from the best available and oldest source material. It represents a set of choices by the editors of that translation.
This truth drove the Jehovah’s Witnesses to do their own translation. Most of the rest of the Reformed churches question their work and don’t consider the New World Translation to be orthodox. Every Bible, every list of books declared to be canonical will find its detractors, people who disagree with what was selected and what was left out. There are some who believe it was a mistake to leave out the Gospel of Thomas. Some Ethiopian churches include material on Jesus’ childhood. It’ll be perfect for those who like what was selected and flawed for those who wanted something included which was excluded. It is still a perfect reflection of God’s thick-necked people who persist in being fallen and needing grace.
I’m good with the bibles I use. I cleaned out my library a year ago. I kept my NIV and my copy of The Message because they were gifts. I mostly use an app on my phone which makes available most every version of the Bible I am interested in. Most of the time I read from the ESV because it is what N.T. Wright suggested. My church uses the NIV. Though we disagree more than we agree there are essentials we can rest on. The book of Leviticus is a good place to start. Then maybe Matthew and Acts 2. After that, the quote from Meldenius and Mother Theresa’s, “do small things with great love.”
If anything, God’s love of his thick-necked people is all the more remarkable because we have never been unified in our opinions. The Bible is perfect in its reflection of our nature as combative, loving, incredible creations in His image.