Monday, July 5, 2010
Taking Dictation from God
One of Protestant Christianity's basic tenets -- at least among the more fundamentalist sects -- is that the Bible is the "word of God" and therefore all true, the ultimate authority on everything.
I ask myself increasingly what is the authority for that assertion. Having been dunked in the Southern Baptist church as a child, I was shown pictures of ancient men sitting at tables with pens in their hands while beams of light entered their heads from above. These were the Bible writers, obedient secretaries receiving dictation directly from God . . . of which every syllable was true. But I do not recall ever being told who said that the Bible was the infallible "Word of God", nor do I recall anything in the Bible itself which asserted that it was all written by God.
Considering how filled with contradictions and inconsistencies the Bible is, it seems that the Roman Catholic Church was very wise in not encouraging its believers to read it. By unleashing hordes of the generally unintelligent to read and interpret the Old and New Testaments for themselves, Protestantism deserved what it got -- a multitude of sects claiming to give the correct interpretation of a collection of writings which can only be considered, if not schizophrenic, fragmented with inconsistencies and outright contradictions.
Years ago I thought that by now the Christian churches would have dried up for the most part, but based on what I hear around me, and on what we read, the traditionalist churches remain a powerful force in the United States, not only ideologically but also politically. And the main pillar of their existence is that the Bible is all true.
This makes me feel about as comfortable as I would if one of those wild-eyed street preachers who scream at imaginary crowds on corners had been elected Governor on a platform of education reform.