by Elizabeth Corney, Editor-in-Chief
“Divinity School? What is that?”
“One time, I told my friend I had plans, but I really just didn’t want to go to her event, was that a lie?”
For some reason that I have yet to discover, fellow riders like to strike up conversations with me on the shuttle between school and home. Depending on their tone, I usually resist by giving short answers or avoid contact by listening to music or reading. Yet, somehow, people persist in asking the strangest questions. My favorites are about the Bible. I think I have taken enough questions about the Bible to qualify as some sort of Bible therapist. People will take any opportunity to work stuff out. Some carry trauma. Some want to burst my bubble, “I could tell you things about the Bible that would make you lose all faith.” Some want me to give them assurance. Some should really learn to use Google.
“Do you think the Bible is true?”
It is complicated. I explain that the question is flawed because it assumes there is one Bible. There are multiple canons depending on your tradition. Not to mention that you are likely reading a translation of a translation. There is also an issue with definitions. What do you mean by true? Does true mean that every single word is literal and prescriptive? In that case, no I don’t think it is all true (and neither do most Christians). Does true mean that the Bible is an account of encounters with God that help us learn about faith? Then, yes I think it is true.
My interlocutor does not like this answer. It is too ambiguous. “I think you are avoiding the question.” I respond that if a one word answer is required, then it must be no. Because, everything must be critically examined. If the Bible is assumed true, then there is no chance to wrestle with the text, to test it and find it sure or not (the not being a genuine option). When someone tells you how the Bible was written, transmitted, collated, and canonized, you will find your faith on shaky ground if you have only idolized the Bible rather than understanding what it is and how it has come to be.