10 myths about the Bible

A Christian Science perspective.

1. The Bible is drier than the Mojave Desert.
True, the Bible is, in a sense, just a bunch of words. But the reader’s desire to understand God, to love Him and one’s brothers and sisters around the world more, and to grow in grace brings the Bible to life. Our desire to grow spiritually converts the Bible from a desert of words into a garden of spiritual truths and inspiration. 

2. The Bible teaches religiosity, not spirituality.
The Bible is profoundly opposed to a merely surface spiritual practice. It demands honesty with oneself and others, freedom from hypocrisy, and that one love God and others unconditionally.

In Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan, a priest and another worker in the Temple refuse to help a man who has been beaten. Finally he receives aid from a compassionate, generous man of a religion that was detested by Jesus’ compatriots (see Luke 10:25-37).

3. The Bible is antiwomen.
Some letters attributed to the Apostle Paul say that women should dress and act modestly and keep quiet. But these are views about what was appropriate in that time and culture – not comments on the superiority of one gender over another. In fact, millions of women and men, throughout history and today, have found that the love of God as explained in the Bible reforms, frees, and heals. Consider Mary Baker Eddy, who found in the Bible the answer to her own suffering, as well as a system of healing upon which to found a church. In this church, men and women have enjoyed equality since 1879.

4. The Bible is exclusivistic.
That is, it teaches that only some are “in” while most are “out.” For example, this statement of Jesus is often interpreted in a narrow, exclusivistic manner: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). But as the Gospels indicate, Jesus was not trying to get people to accept a certain phrase or even a certain narrow teaching. He invited everyone everywhere, and in all time, to love God supremely, and to love their brothers and sisters. This is the way, the truth, and the life by which we come to God.

5. The Bible says that people who aren’t Christian are just plain wrong.
In fact, the writers of many parts of the Bible seem to go out of their way to emphasize that everyone everywhere can recognize and base their lives on God as infinite Love. In the book of Acts, Peter has an experience that shows him that God doesn’t care about a person’s background as long as the person is truly righteous (see Acts 10:1-35).

6. The Bible teaches that we’ll go to hell if we don’t accept Jesus as our personal savior.
Few biblical passages actually talk about hell. Rather, many passages talk about the blessings that flow – here and now and eternally – from doing right (see the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, for example).

And here’s a passage that emphasizes that salvation is won as we think and live the way that Jesus did: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32).

7. The Bible contributes to an unhappy status quo in societies around the world.
This is a serious misconception. In fact, one could argue that it was the availability of the Bible in the vernacular that drove forward the Reformation. The Good Book was the main inspiration for ending the transportation of Africans as slaves to the United States, and many ministers and others who fought for civil rights for African-Americans in the latter part of the 20th century leaned heavily on the Bible.

The love of God, as explained in the Bible, reforms, frees, and even heals.

8. The Bible is old-fashioned and becoming obsolete.
For centuries, the Bible, which has outsold any other book since it was printed for the first time in the 15th century, has shaped Western law and culture. The Ten Commandments form the basis for laws in many countries.
 
9. The Bible should be interpreted literally.
The Bible abounds in metaphors, parables, and stories. Interpreting this richness literally would kill its spirit. The Scriptures heal us as we open our hearts to their spirit.

10. You could study the Bible for centuries, but it can never save you from dying.
Christian Science teaches that to understand the Bible spiritually is to be guided to eternal life. Jesus said, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death” (John 8:51).

The Bible rescues us and lifts us to a higher perception of God as the only Life now. This knowledge is practical and will save us bodily to the degree that we understand and prove it in daily living.

Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel. To read the full article, click here.

Nov. 18-25 is National Bible Week.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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