Saturday, July 6, 2013

Does Biblicism Really Honor the Bible?

Biblicist Christians (those who think the Bible is literally and historically true in everything it says) believe their position is the only one that truly honors the Bible. Is it possible, however, that they actually detract from the value of the text by turning it into a book of magic tricks with God as the master magician?

Here's an example, the familiar story of the Three Wise Men who came to worship Jesus. The gospel of Matthew records that a group of men in the east saw a star they identified as the star of the newborn king of the Jews. They were astrologers (astrology is condemned in the Old Testament, by the way) who believed that individuals had their own stars (not a Biblical teaching), and that destiny could be determined from these stars (again, not to be found in the Bible).

Even from the beginning, the story raises interesting questions. How many other stars had the astrologers seen that they identified as stars of newborn kings and gone to present gifts? Had they the previous year seen the star of a newborn Persian king and travelled to Persia to honor him? Had they ever seen the star of an infant king in India, and gone there to pay homage to him? Was this how they spent their summer vacations, or was the trip to Jerusalem unique? We'll never know.

At any rate, the astrologers knew that Jerusalem was the capital city of the Jews, so they came to Jerusalem to find and present gifts to this young king. Note that the Bible says nothing at all about their following the star to Jerusalem, as believed in Christian tradition. They simply saw a star in the sky, identified it as the star of the king of the Jews, and traveled to Jerusalem to honor him. It was only after the Roman ruler Herod sent them to Bethlehem that the star again appears in the Bible, guiding them to the very bed where Jesus was lying.

Imagine that you live in Apartment C, on 45 Oak Street in Philadelphia.  How could a star possibly guide anyone directly to your apartment from Washington DC? It was a miracle, Christians reply. God actually brought this star down from its home millions of light years away in the universe to make it hone in on Jesus' bedroom. It was the opposite of those giant lights you can see at the County Fair. Instead of shining into the night, this one beamed down from the sky.

To the uninitiated, it sounds more like a magic trick than a miracle. The Biblicist insists, however, that it really happened as another piece of divine evidence given to prove the uniqueness of the birth of Jesus.


Unknown said...

First you say "note that the bible says nothing at all about their following the star to jerusalem", then you spend a paragraph saying that christians literally believe that the star guided them to the manger... So which is it, are you arguing against people who take the bible literally or those who add to it, because your argument convolutes the two.

Straw men are always easier to take down.

Quotable Quotes: said...

Tom, this was not erecting a straw man. The Bible does not say the star guided the wise men from the east to Jerusalem (although the story we learned as children included that). The Bible does say the star guided them from Jerusalem to the house where Jesus was staying (it does not say manger, by the way).

So I am arguing against people who take the Bible literally, not those to add to it. The only "addition" I noted is that the Bible does not say anything about their following the star until after they reached Jerusalem. If you read the story differently, I'd appreciate hearing your comment.

aemish said...

It is entirely a part of one's spiritual journey to question dogma but this post leads me to ask you directly.

QQ, do you no longer believe in God?

Quotable Quotes: said...

It's good to be back blogging, and I'm glad you're still reading. Think I missed you as much as you missed me!

My thoughts about God are evolving. Less of traditional Christianity - the belief there is a personal God out there from whom we are separated because of sin and to whom we must be reunited by believing the right things about Jesus.

More of new thought - God is Mind who expresses himself (still can't get beyond the male pronoun) in everything, and we are all connected. More to come as I think it through!

aemish said...

I know what you mean.. :D

I look forward to reading and sharing with you

Unknown said...

Man created God in his image, In the image of man he created God!

The Jew created a God like a Jew & the Arab created his God like an Arab.

All religions are Comfort Blankets, much like the ones children have, to protect them from spooks!

Children grow out of needing their Comfort Blankets, but billions of people hang on to their religious Comfort Blankets!

aemish said...

>>" More to come as I think it through! "<<

Haven't we all been patient enough? Or have you started a new blog I'm unaware of?

Hope all is well with you, QQ. ❤