I routinely surf and post on a certain forum and the debate came around about Penn & Teller’s recent bit about the Bible. I will leave it to your resourcefulness, should you choose, to find the full video. It is filthy and profane and set forward to offend as many people as possible. It is not from a genuine desire to understand or question like Thomas or the Ethiopian man on the road to Gaza so I feel no compunction to entertain it here.
In reading various opinions, flippant responses, blatant untruths spread about the Bible, etc; a response began to form in my head. So, I started typing. Whether I actually post it on the forum is immaterial. I believe this debate succeeded in inspiring that which I have failed to do on my own time and again: a statement of belief. This is what I came up with….
Ok. I’m going to throw my hat (and heart) in…. Standing on the sidelines was never really my style anyway. Before I write that which is written in my heart (and it’s going to be long), I will say that the only one responsible for my faith is me. The same can be said of any person. Now…..
I believe the bible is the divinely inspired word of the Almighty God. I believe that He inspired the words, written by man for centuries, as a guide we could use to live by. I believe the bible is literal truth and its core truth of salvation by grace through faith is woven through every story, conversation and character that makes up the bible.
Whether a person believes what I believe does not remove or lessen their value as a divinely inspired creation. Each person must decide for himself or herself what he/she believes about how they were created, their humanity and eternity.
I believe the Bible is a true story of a Creator who wanted more than worshippers; he wanted relationships. So he moved his hands over the coldness that was nothing and created the most perfect planet for his Beloved (us). Then, with his own hands, he created a man and a woman and breathed his own breath into them. In the beginning, the man and the woman walked with their Creator in the coolness of the garden. It was a perfect relationship. There was no cold ritual; there was no standing on tradition or theology – there was simply conversation.
It was not enough for this Creator to make a perfect world for these two people; he also gave them the gift of choice. He knew that in order for the relationship to be TRUE, they MUST choose the relationship. As anybody who has been in a relationship knows, there is always the risk of rejection.
But I get ahead of myself….
As with any relationship, the Creator set forth rules or boundaries for the relationship. The man and the woman chose to violate those boundaries. A saddened and angry Creator cast them out of the perfectness that was the relationship. Did this mean that he stopped loving them? Did this mean that he wasn’t still totally invested in how the story turned out? No. It means that like any relationship, there are consequences for violating boundaries.
I believe that at the moment God created us with free will, he knew what would happen. He knew that it would only be a matter of time before the perfect gifts he had prepared for the man and woman would be rejected for their own selfish desire and willfulness. I think at the moment of creation, he could already see the bigger picture and all of the stops and starts that would have to happen over a seemingly endless number of centuries before that relationship could be restored.
I believe that the Old Testament is the first part of a story about grace. It is a story of God’s never-ending love for a people he created. A people he called by name. The beginning of a covenant relationship (the call of Abraham), the establishment of the boundaries in the relationship (the law), the establishment of those who would hold God’s people accountable for staying on track (prophets) and the countless examples of God’s people living out the same willful and selfish decisions that the man and woman made.
Did God stop loving his people? No. The story continued. God continued moving the pieces into place for the restoration of the relationship. He promises to send someone who can restore the relationship between the Creator and his Beloved people. And then, at some point in between the Old and New Testament, God falls silent…he is waiting.
Then, the new testament begins. A new chapter in the story. It begins with something so amazing as to stretch our capacity to imagine. The story of a young couple and their infant child. A divine child. Both the Son of Man and the Son of God. Someone that had been in on the big picture from the very beginning of the story. God knew that sacrifices must be made in any broken covenant to restore the relationship. He offered the first sacrifice – his very Son – Christ. The Creator became the Created.
I believe that there was one perfect, sinless human in all of existance and it is the man Jesus, earthly son of Joseph and Mary. I believe Jesus was the Son of God. I believe that Jesus came to be the sacrifice required to restore the broken covenant between the Creator and his beloved people.
I believe that Jesus Christ died on a Roman Cross. I believe his body lay in a borrowed tomb and on the third day, he rose from the dead. I accept this as truth.
What makes Jesus so revolutionary is that his message seems too simple. Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart and you will be saved. The relationship created at the beginning of time between the Creator and his beloved (us) will be restored. That’s too easy; isn’t it? There’s no ritual. There’s no good behavior points. No opportunity for piety. Just a relationship. Just as the relationship was created in the very beginning.
I believe that the story isn’t over. One day, we will be reunited with our Creator and we will once again walk with him in the coolness of the garden. That’s the end of the story, given in a glimpse to the apostle John.
I believe that, like any story, it is often counter productive to the bigger themes and story to stop at one specific verse, word or chapter and pull it out and summarize the entire story. Only when you look at the entire story can you see the over-arching theme of restoration of the relationship.
That is what I believe. Nobody made me believe these things – my relationship with my Creator is a sweet relationship, based on love and a continual renewing of that grace that, like a single scarlet thread, is woven throughout the fabric of the entire human existence.