In a recent GQ article entitled “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read,” the editors decided to include the Bible on the list. They state,
"The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill intentioned. "
While the editors of GQ are certainly entitled to their opinion, I believe that it is shortsighted at best. Even if you are not a religious person and even if you do not believe that it is the written Word of God, the Bible has had a significant impact on human history. The words of the Bible have caused wars, changed empires and shaped our modern world. It was people who believed in the Bible that broke slavery’s back. It was people who believed in the Bible that marched for equality. And it was people who believe in the Bible that are doing a lot of good around the world. To dismiss the Bible is simply foolish hubris.
Hubris is excessive pride or self-confidence, and it seems we live in an era where we are steeped in what I define as cultural hubris. In other words, because we live in the era of iPhones, cars, modern travel and a host of other conveniences, our culture tends to believe it is smarter and more enlightened than previous generations. We tend to judge history through our jaded modern lens, which ends up allowing us to give up on anything as ancient. Yet ancient things have had a profound shaping effect on our culture and will continue into the future, and there is no other document that has shaped our world more than the Bible.
The more I read the Bible, the more I realize its relevance for today. For instance, sociologists have begun linking depression, mental health and opioid addictions to people being more disconnected from society. Many point out that this disconnection from a community has isolated people, wrecked values and left many to feel purposeless. Yet 2,000 years ago (roughly), the Bible taught the value of being fully immersed in a Christian community to draw values and purpose and to put all men, women, slave and freeman on equal footing. I could point to other examples of the Bible being relevant, but it would be an incredibly long document. Simply put, to dismiss the Bible as full of contradictions, foolish and ill-intentioned is to be intellectually dishonest, arrogant and probably lacking some curiosity as to what has made this document so historically transformative.
Coming Thursday: As I read this article, I began to ponder why it seems like religious values, churches and people are being mocked and ridicule in our Western world. I will address this in my next post.