Okay, "hate" is a strong word.
But I want to at least comment on a few issues and I hope I don't lose friends or nothing.
So, the rational part of me goes something like this...
I can't boot out Jesus
a) because I like what he taught and did and
b) history shouts "this guy is who he says he is" (perhaps you don't think so, but that's a whole other blog, or probably a coffee date, where we share thoughts and politely agree to disagree).
So, Jesus is sexy. Lots of folks think Jesus said wicked-cool stuff. But he seemed to like the Bible. And bear in mind He only had that crummy, stinky, racist, sexist, genocidal Old Testament at his disposal. He knew it backwards and forwards, taught from it, quoted it, affirmed it.
Thus, I'm caught in this tension: I want to give Jesus a big hug, but also have to figure out what to do with the Bible — the whole dang thing. And honestly even Jesus confuses the crap out of me sometimes.
Allow me some vulnerability. I like the Bible. It's a beautiful cornucopia of story, poetry, history, allegory, wisdom. I can't deny the spiritual and emotional fill-up I often get from it (which is terribly unmeasurable, I know). I've studied it. I read it a lot of my days. I've grown up in church. But still...
Here's a list of ten things I don't dig about the Bible:
1) It tells me I'm a sinner (and my pals).
C'mon, I'm not that bad. I've had speeding tickets, but I'm not sure I need cosmic help to blot out all of my wrong-doing. Maybe a baby wipe. Hand sanitizer at most. And what about my friends? Them too? My super nice "non-believing" friends? They are "sinners"?
What is it anyway? Is it really as strict as the eternally-in-or-out thing we've been taught? Fire? Reruns of Gilligan's Island? Not sure. Couldn't God just make people cease to exist or something? Perhaps reset them?
3) It says Jesus is the only way.
...but there are plenty of people who don't call themselves Christians who I like better than Christians.
4) All the horrible genocide commanded by God.
5) The exclusive blessing of the Israelites in the Old Testament.
What about everyone else?
6) How confusing it is.
If God is so smart, why did he make the primary vessel of his message so difficult? It's 77 books written over roughly a thousand-and-a-half years, give or take. When reading it, one has to understand historical context, cultural nuances, figure out the author of a given book (and that author's intent), figure out if what one is reading is meant as a metaphor (some ancient Hebrew allegory) or literal advice on how to conduct one's life, etc, etc...
7) Its contradictions.
There are many of them. I don't even feel the need to list them, because you can so easily google them. Go ahead. Humans penned it and it's flawed.
8) It doesn't comment about many important issues.
It doesn't talk a lot about the awkward space between unmarried and married. I wish there was more guidance on sex/masturbation (like, a really clear "smooching is cool, but don't go to second base before marriage"). It doesn't clearly confirm or debunk evolution. It doesn't tell me who to vote for, what school to go to, what job to get.
9) It's so long.
Okay, it's shallow and lazy, I know. But again, if God is so smart why did he make his manual so arduous? I even like reading, but sheesh… couldn't he have used more bullet points? Maybe he could have masked it by making it the eighth Harry Potter book? I mean you never heard of anyone needing a year-long reading plan to make it through Harry Potter. You're trying to get a clear message to all of humanity here. It's hard enough to get them to click on a blog for crying out loud.
10) It's written in several languages.
WTFudge. I quit. Not only is my Bible over a thousand pages, but if I want to feel that I grasp it at its core I need to learn Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek — AND THEN debate scholars on the nuances of tiny words that could alter the meaning of entire doctrines.
*wipes sweat from forehead*
If I wanted to I could chime in with answers that are meant to clear up a lot of these issues. For now I'd like to leave them and say that a relatively intellectual person can be frustrated and feel the tension of understanding the Bible, while still being committed to the journey of following Jesus. God may even be at this person's side.
When I was in high school (fifteen or so) I had what one might deem a "crisis of faith". At least a clear, sustained one. I won't count the weekends I still sometimes have when I'm scared Jesus isn't God, or the moments I think "what if all this God stuff is just feelings and intuitions and nothing of substance."
Anyway, I talked to my dad about this faith crisis. When he responded his tone sounded like I had asked him what was for lunch.
"If God is God, then he can handle your questions."
In fact, best-loved Bible character David was constantly yelling at God and somehow he was still known as "a man after God's heart". Go figure. Also, look at John the Baptist (you know, the one who Jesus said was the most awesome man ever born?). At one point even good ol' Johnny had the nerve to subtly ask Jesus if he actually was the Messiah. Ouch.
So thanks, Pop. I still think that God is okay when I have concerns. I mean, is God going to cry and fall out of heaven if I tell him I don't like his book? Will he stop being God? Will he tell me I can't sit with him at the eternal cool-kid cafeteria table? Doubt it.