I think I shall call my next book 'Christianity for the Confused.'
Then again the vehemence with which some Christians argue for or against particular biblical principles/theological theories makes me think I wouldn't be able to cope with the flak so perhaps I won't.
The thing is that Christianity is confusing. Or maybe it's the bible that's confusing: it quite often contradicts itself. Or appears to. Or it says things that make me say, 'What?' in response to which Other Wiser People Than I explain it by saying, 'Well, that's not really what it means; you have to look at the bigger picture/the cultural relevance/what Dr EvenWiserMan says about it in his highly acclaimed book, What the Bible Means.
But is it meant to be that difficult?
Jesus spoke mostly to fairly simple people and lots of them seemed to get it from his words and his actions. (Having said that he did tell some complicated parables that he had to explain to the disciples but the explanation is included in the bible so we can understand today.)
I have a simple faith but when I've defended this to OWPTI by quoting Jesus words, 'unless you become like little children', they've come back at me with Paul's words, 'stop thinking like children.' See what I mean? It contradicts itself.
So then I was thinking: what if we only had the gospels?
After all it was Man who decided which books would go in the New Testament. According to the Bible Society, in the middle of the 2nd century AD, groups on the fringe of the Christian movement started to come up with their own gospels and letters. This forced the mainstream Church to define which works were part of the New Testament; they did this in the Council of Carthage at the end of the 3rd century AD.
Nothing new under the sun and even today now and again you'll hear reports of newly-discovered scrolls that are proclaimed as being So'n'So's Gospel and usually in Daily Mail style make grandiose claims that they disprove that a) Jesus died; b) it was Judas who betrayed him; c) it was an accident that killed Diana.
Also the Roman Catholic and Anglican bibles are different: the RC bible has more books in the NT.
So what if we only had the gospels? And our knowledge of our faith were based simply on the words and actions of Christ without any of the letters from Paul or other disciples. What difference would that make? Not a subject for a hasty blog post.
Although that's quite a good title for a book: What if we only had the gospels?