I dated a guy in college who was very excited when the Creation Museum opened nearby. According to him, they explained how God created the earth with the dinosaur fossils embedded within. Naturally, I took offense because I love dinosaurs. Jurassic Park later became my favorite movie of all time and it’s the only book I have read cover to cover three times. Don’t mess with my dinosaurs.
“Why would God do that?” I asked.
“To mess with us,” he replied.
Nope. I don’t want to believe in a God who would create a world to look like its 4.5 billion years old just to mess with us.
“But the Bible says…”
The Bible says a lot of things. Throwing out statements like “the Bible says…” is often an attempt to end conversation, to seek absolution for deeply held prejudices, to deter others from thinking critically, and sometimes to hold onto power. If the Bible says something, then who am I to question such authority?
But what does it even mean to claim that the Bible has any authority? The Bible isn’t God. It wasn’t assembled to end our conversation with God, it is there to open a dialogue between us.
The misuse of Scripture has led many of us to reject the Bible and the church and seek a Christianity somewhat divorced from both. We steer clear of “Bible Studies” and “small groups” because of this struggle over the Bible’s authority. We don’t want to argue with people, and we don’t want to be judged, so we don’t participate. We don’t even want to sit and read the Bible because we don’t know what to do with the parts we disagree with. Because the church failed to teach us how to wrestle with God.
The Bible is the greatest symphony ever composed; we hear glimpses of its beauty from time to time, but mostly it’s gotten lost in noise. Noise? Over the last century, churches often found that it easier to do the equivalent of giving all the fourth graders a recorder and teaching them just a few disconnected measures from that symphony, which has had the unintended consequence of creating so much noise that the beauty of the masterpiece has been lost.
When people use the Bible to justify themselves, we often only hear a fourth grader with a recorder. Too often even if we just hear Scripture being read, we still only hear that recorder.
Being a Christian is not about following the Bible, it’s about following Jesus. Jesus lives in the music of the symphony, the complete symphony played by a full orchestra.
The work of deconstruction begins with making peace with the Bible so we can tune out the noise and hear the symphony once again.