Why is the Bible relevant for today?

During the period between 2001 and 2007 I was the owner of a cleaning business. One of my contracts was with a local cereal factory. One morning, I joined in a conversation with a group of workers who were dismissing the Bible and one person in particular with the air of authority said it was full of contradictory errors. I contributed with, “Hang on, I’m a Christian, I love reading my Bible, in fact I have one in my car, I’ll go and get it and you can show me where all these errors are.” Within thirty seconds I had my Bible out of the car and put it in the man’s hand, He held it gingerly and sheepishly admitted that he had never held a Bible before, yet alone read it!

I have observed there is a trend within society to dismiss the Bible as being irrelevant for our modern societal needs. Many will say that the Bible is full of fairy tales, urban myths and some like those in my story above with a false air of authority speak dismissively about it; while having never read it. The truth is that the Bible is about people. It’s about the world. It’s full of stories about real people. About real struggles and failures! About real victories and success! It’s about purpose and identity. It’s about relationship. And it’s about the relationship and experience these real people had with God and with each other.

The Bible tells many stories which spans thousands of years. It contains sixty six books and is divided into two segments which we call the Old and the New Testaments. Those books contain history, philosophy, poetry and song. The New Testament begins with the birth and life of Jesus. It begins with real people who have real struggles in a real world. It begins with family. It tells stories of broken relationship and community. It tells the stories of personal hope and victory. It shares with us the struggles people have in making a living and their journeys of life. It shares how some of the rich and the powerful look down on the poor. It speaks of governmental oppression, corruption wars and peace. It tells us about the birth and death of loved ones. And it shares many real personal stories of hope, encouragement, purpose and love.

And so in many ways our own societal needs and struggles are but an echo of those who have gone before us in the record of Scripture. And it comforts, encourages and gives us hope, for it tells us about the God who is for us and not against us.

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About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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10 Responses to Why is the Bible relevant for today?

  1. tildeb says:

    Although there may be great value in the myths and stories of the bible, it is a statement of fact that the books of the bible are also filled with factual contradictions not just with the reality we share but with each other.

    For example, there are some 60+ references to a geocentric universe, references to a flat earth, stories like Exodus and Genesis that we know are not, and cannot be, historical, and so on. So there is indeed good cause for anyone to suspect the bible – if it is presented as anything more than myths and stories (including Jesus) – contains many contradictions.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Tildeb. You have to learn to engage with the post, and play the ball and not the man. Last warning before I ban you permanently.

      • tildeb says:

        No, Brian, I have an independent guide to tell me which is which in a newspaper. What is your independent guide, you method for discerning which parts of the bible are historical and factual true and which parts stories and myth?

      • tildeb says:

        I thought I was, Craig. You implied that the main criticism against the charge that the bible is ‘full’ of contradictions are often bought forth by those who don’t know it very well. Au contraire. I wanted to clarify that these folk (and their lack of biblical familiarity) are not the main opponent of claims for historical authenticity and truth claims about the world found within. This comes from those who do know the bible well and and who have seriously studied these contradictions.

        Also, you suggested that those people who put forth the notion that the bible is full of contradictions are wrong when, in fact, they are quite right. Sure, it has all kinds of stories and myths; this is not under debate. You suggest that these stories and myths are relevant to today. I agree. But believers go much further than this and seem to presume that they have some means, some method available to others to determine which bits are story and myth and which are historical and factual. I don’t think this presumption is based on anything other than a subjective a priori faith-based belief. IN other words, no believer has any reliable method to differentiate story from fact, myth from history, and these leads us into all kinds of very real problems that have real effect in our shared world and that need to be recognized by believers before we can effectively address their negative consequences…. for these consequences are also quite relevant to those who use the bible as a guide in this world today.

      • Craig Benno says:

        I edited your comment. Please ensure you play the ball and not make presumptions about what I or anyone else believe. The Bible is not a scientific book and has never claimed to be such. Of course its going to reflect much of the then world view. In my example, I asked the person who spoke with such an air of authority to show me where those contradictions are and he admitted that he had never even held a bible, yet alone read one.

        The scriptures are a complex compilation of poetry, song, history, prophecy and politics. Within those bounds is a rigorous faith based existence. As for faith, I am still waiting for you to prove that your religious insistence that Atheism is right, is actually right.

      • tildeb says:

        It may surprise you, Craig, that I – as an atheist – find value in the bible (in particular, the Genesis myth, which is filled to overflowing with great insight into the human condition). I require no faith to hold no belief in either the Yaweh of the jews or the Jesus of the christians or the thousands and thousands of other gods of other religions… many of which I have studied. And one of the main reasons for this non belief is that none I have yet to encounter offer compelling evidence for supremacy. I can find no method – although I have often asked – that reveals one to be superior to another and much evidence that the claims made on behalf of a particular brand of divine inspiration and insight are factually wrong. This does not build confidence. To call this lack a religion to which I belong doesn’t make any sense other than try to equate two approaches that are antithetical.

        This freedom allows me to take what others say at face value, to examine them without bias and prejudice for their truth value. And, like you and many other believers, I am rewarded with value from studying many different religious approaches.

        But I think it is always important to not overstate one’s belief outside the bounds of faith and into factual and historical claims about the reality we share. For that, we do have others methods that are tried and true and valuable, none of which requires faith. Also, I think it’s good to be highly skeptical of extraordinary claims no matter how pious the source may be presented. And that certainly includes scriptures of all makes and models. This is over-reaching is what I think you’ve done with your post, stepped beyond the biblical stories and myths that can bring value with their understanding and paint the many discrepancies and contradictions present in them to be the fault of the skeptical inquirer. I think that’s not fair. And when a believer presents scripture to be without factual error, a source that is presented trustworthy about claims that describe and explain the reality we share, then the believer IS presenting scripture to be a science text and deserves to be called on it. And that’s the purpose for what I’m doing.

      • Craig Benno says:

        This has to be your best comment you have ever made. You actually engaged with the post and not made a straw man argument, nor denigrated anyone in the process. Well done!

        As for the question of faith. The basis and centrality of my faith is and always has been on the basis of Christ and him alone.

        I did a series a while back on Christ and invited you to disprove his claims about himself and the Christian basis for believing what we do about him. It was an invitation you refused.

  2. brian sleeman says:

    Great article Craig. All those things are still relevant to us today, therefore, the message of
    ow to deal with those things today is still relevant.

    Tildeb, do you have the same issue discerning what is news, advertising, sport and “the funnies” in the news paper? Of course, when you place yourself on the par with God, when you do not have all His attributes, then it is impossible to see the picture as a whole.

    • brian sleeman says:

      How do you know your independent guide is trustworthy and accurate? It’s nit possible for a news journalist to use satire and poetry in a news article? Or a sports commentator to wrap in superstition into a sports report?

      And, as Craig rightly pointed out, the claim wasn’t made to the person in question that there were no inconsistencies- just a request for them to be pointed out. And as I have pointed out to you in the past, Genesis is not as mythical as you seem(ed) to believe.

      What is “fact” (not poetry etc.) Is told mostly from the perspective of what we see – so that it makes sense (or at least to those at the time who didn’t understand about gravity and quantum physics). When you explain electricity to mist people do tell them that current flows in the opposite direction? You just leave them with the “simple” understanding because it doesn’t affect their use of electricity and confusing them on the issue bears no benefit?

      And as for scientific, how much science would a nomad 4000 years ago understand and know? For that matter, how much science did anyone really understand 400 years ago?

      • tildeb says:

        When a factual or historical claim is made in a newspaper, it is expected to be vetted through reliable sources in the event of reasonable questioning regarding the quality of the information. Of course we can see different kinds of writing styles in both newspapers and the books of the bible, but I’m not concerned with styles differentiating prosody from prose. This is straightforward.

        I’m concerned that people have no means to differentiate the content in the bible between story and fact. So when you write Genesis is not as mythical as you seem(ed) to believe, you are suggesting that you have some means and method available to you to be able to successfully differentiate which parts are mythical and which parts are factual independent of your faith. This I sincerely question, which is why I have asked you to explain it so that I, too, can know which is which independent of your faith. Unlike a newspaper with a table of contents and different layouts for each section, clearly labeled sections of reporting local, regional, national, and international events versus editorial opinion and advertising supplements, the bible comes with no such equivalent guide. So how do you differentiate its content and how does this comport with knowledge we do have about many claims made in the Genesis account?

        I claim the Genesis account is myth and should be read as such (that this is where we can find its valuable insight into the human condition), keeping clear of any over-reaching to make its many claims historical or factual, many of which we know are simply wrong when comported against reality. As myth, the claims do not have to be historical or factual to play a meaningful role in teaching us about ourselves and what it means to be human, whereas attempting to make the claims historical and factual interferes with the pursuit of knowledge. Such over-reaching significantly affects how much or little we respect reality’s arbitration of any such claims (and, I argue, directly harms the reputation of religions unwilling to recognize their over-stepping). This is the very real danger such faith-based brings into the public domain, claims that are in conflict and competition with methods designed to differentiate between what fits with how reality operates what does not. In this self-inflicted conflict, religious belief will always lose. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t have to be this way, that over-reaching religious belief should not be the catalyst for dismissing scripture as worthless (because it is factual wrong and historically inaccurate when it is presented this way) when scripture is not when understood to be story and myth with very real and important insight.

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