Friday, March 3, 2017

How Not to Read the Bible

One thing that is true of all human beings is that we learn through experience. We begin life by taking in everything that we can through our senses. Over time we build up an awareness of the people and things that are a part of our environment, at the same time as we learn how to interact with them. This process enables us to develop patterns of behavior that get us what we need and want in life without any thought being given to why we do the things we do. We form these habits because they work, not because they are the right thing to do or even the best way to do it.

As a person matures they may learn that there are good reasons for acting in certain ways and not in others. Virtues may be acquired and bad habits can be left behind, but not always. The virtue of the mind which enables one to judge things rightly is prudence or wisdom. It is linked in many ways to other virtues such as honesty, humility, integrity, and temperance or self-control. Virtues are also acquired through experience. When one is surrounded by people who are honest, and truthful, then not only is it much easier to love and respect these people, it is far more likely that one acquires many of the same virtues through the experience of having seen how these virtues contribute to the goodness of life.

The opposite is also true. If one grows up in a culture which promotes greed, revenge, selfishness, or sexual promiscuity, then it can be far more difficult to acquire the virtues which are in opposition to these vices. With respect to the virtues of the mind, every ideology which promotes a particular agenda and redefines truth as that which conforms to the ideology rather than to reality, is a serious impediment to anyone who seeks the truth. It does not matter whether one is a Marxist, a religious fundamentalist, a materialist, or a radical feminist. Anyone who places some ideology above the truth will not be able to find the truth unless the fundamental disorder present in their mind is corrected.

This is particularly true with regard to how one reads the Bible. If one holds some ideology above the truth, then the truth that the Bible conveys will be rejected whenever it contradicts that ideology. Impose some agenda on the Bible and you will get nothing out of it. Read the Bible with an open mind and you will find the greatest history book ever written and the greatest love story ever told.