Sunday, December 26, 2004

If God Will Send His Angels

After the turkey I settled down to my first TV viewing of the day - Who Wrote The Bible? on Channel 4. It was interesting TV, if a little vague on content and too willing to present particular opinions as fact (for example, the story of the discovery of Mary Magdalene's suppressed Gospel was presented as the early, patriarchal, Church smearing her and discounting her gospel as it didn't suit their politics, with no attempt at further discussion or examination).

However it was very instructive, and quite disturbing, when the interviews with the Rabbi in Hebron and the Baptist Minister in Georgia, USA were shown. Both men completely dismissed any notion that the Bible (both Old and New Testament) was anything other than the literal truth given to us directly by God. When told of theological scholars being quite easily able to demonstrate that the books were collections of writings by different scribes over decades or centuries, each writing to suit an audience and a moment of time the reply was simply "Rubbish" or "I don't care, this is what I believe".

I should have known better, but I was genuinely surprised. No Catholic priest I've ever encountered has insisted that the Old Testament be taken as the literal truth and, indeed, the Parish Priest I had when I was an Altar Server specifically told me that the Catholic Church considered the early books of the Old Testament to be stories designed to teach a simple people, with no knowledge of Science or their origins, of the power of God.

Personally I regard the Gospels as the written representation of the message Christ delivered in His own lifetime. A guide for living, if you like. I don't particularly care if there are small contradictions are inaccuracies. When it comes to the Creator of the Universe it's all about the big picture, surely?

However, it IS very troubling to believe that there are people in positions of great power, and people able to unleash great violence on the world, who both believe that the Bible is literal truth AND, worse, that it gives them the moral authority to act as they wish. Truly, the most dangerous people in the world are those who profess to act in God's name.

It is interesting, though, to watch and see how often the evangelical Christians reference the Gospels themselves when they preach hate and war. They don't because, that's not where such a message is to be found.
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