Monday, May 18, 2015

Christianity for the Confused

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?


JT said...

Liz. The council of carthage finished the process with a formal list but the list as we have it was all done and dusted in the second century, with some minor confirmations the muratorian fragmnent confirms this. The RC bible has some different books in the OT not NT but if we take Jesus seriously then he accepts the books as WE have them.. MT23v35.(long story). There are many things Jesus did not speak about of course bad things like paedophilia certainly incest and bestiality but we know from what he did say that he accepted the OT on that. its a bit conplicated as you say but LOving God involves doing what he says John 14v23.

JT said...

If we only had the gospels we would have a very strong emphasis on Hell (10 of the 12 references to the word occur on the lips of jesus) the development of the church promised by jesus would not have taken place so not too muxch info there we would rely much much more on books like levitucus and deuteronomy as Jesus did.!!! the question has got me thinking though.........

Liz Hinds said...

Indeed, John, for a simple soul like me it means doing what Jesus says and loving God and others. And that's flipping hard!

The church would still have developed but I suppose, yes, without the letters to help shepherd them could have collapsed too.

It was only a flippant line but it does raise some questions. I'm finding as I'm leading the women's group so many questions and having to research and clarify my own thoughts.