Is The Bible Inerrant? Is It True? My Story Of Growing Up With The Bible And Then Meeting Jesus

The past few days I have been participating in a forum discussion about how one views and interacts with the Bible. I was going to post on the forum about my own history as a Christian, and how I’ve interacted with the Bible through my life, but I decided to write this hub instead.

I love the Bible. I am always finding new things which speak to me about my life, about the way people behave, about history, about the nature of God. I see the world through the prism of the Bible. But it is not the foundation of my spiritual life.


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When I was a child, my favorite books were a set of twelve volumes called “The Bible Story.” These were children’s books going through the Old and New Testaments, with lots of detail, plus colorful pictures. Great stuff: narrow escapes from death, miracles, futuristic dreams, battles, prophets, kings. As a result, I was introduced to an entirely different world. In suburban Pennsylvania, in the midst of hundreds of little boxes made of ticky-tacky, my head was full of ancient Egypt, Babylon and Rome. I think this stretched my developing mind, and forever after made me able to put myself into other people’s shoes. One result was I never experienced the distain and distrust for other cultures common in middle class America of the time.

I won’t say I was a Christian as a child, just because I liked exotic stories. I became a Christian at age fourteen. It was a time of tremendous stress: I left the alcoholic bipolar single mother who raised me, because I could no longer stand the sheer insanity of life with her. But what to do next? I felt lost and very frightened: then Jesus showed up. By day I could feel Him walking alongside me, keeping me company, watching over me. At night He enveloped me. How did I know this unseen presence was Jesus? I have no answer to that. I just knew.

So I figured I was now a Christian, since Jesus Himself was my best friend. And so I took myself off to church, since that’s what Christians do, and I began to read the Bible. Now a few interesting things happened. As I read the text of the Bible for the first time, I realized the stories from my childhood weren’t just simplified for kids: they emphasized some details, left others out, and sometimes threw in conclusions absent from the original. They were versions. And even then, I began to realize that much of what one was told in church was a version. It didn’t bother me – everyone had a perspective, and of course each person would be giving their point of view. Just like the rest of life.

Another thing that happened, was people began to package my conversion story. In the beginning, when people asked me how I became a Christian I would repeat exactly what happened, my awareness of Jesus’ presence, how He affected me. I would talk about the fear and confusion that assailed me, how I would hide myself to cry because I was afraid to show weakness, how He calmed me down. He understood me, and because He was unafraid I was not overcome by fear. Now He was my great friend, the guide for my life. This all had the merit of being true. The problem, I was told, was my story needed to be “biblical.” They were the experts, so I dutifully scanned through the New Testament with some help from a concordance, found verses that supported different bits, and presented my story with Bible verses plugged in. In those days I told the story that way because it pleased my new compatriots in the faith. But at this point in my life, I just tell what happened to me. I read the Bible quite a bit, it is in my mind, in my heart, and in my life, and I feel no need to quote it. I feel like I practically breathe it.

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My conversion was visceral. I encountered the Living God. I did not begin this because of something I read, but because of something I experienced. I can’t prove it by reciting a passage; then again, I don’t need to prove it. I live it. As far as I can tell, Jesus gathered disciples during his life the same way He got me. He showed up, and they recognized Him. When Jesus met Nathanael, He said, “I saw you sitting under the fig tree,” and Nathanael responded, “Rabbi, you are the son of God! You are the king of Israel!” One can hardly think the mention of a tree would get this kind of reaction. Nathanael must have recognized, in a visceral way, who Jesus was.

A good deal of the back and forth on the religious forums involves some posters stating that the Bible has various flaws, and others protesting that it does not. On and on they go, and one has yet to convince the other of a thing. Myself, I find this irrelevant. I figured out a long time ago that few people find the Bible fascinating the way I do, and some actively dislike it for the primitive and violent cultures it portrays. Maybe if I had come to it as an adult I would have reacted differently, but events in the Bible, including the violent ones, were part of the landscape of my childhood. They shaped both my intellect and my emotions, and I think for the better.

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I’m not a Christian because of the Bible. Had I not met Jesus the way I did, the information I had about the Bible would have remained just that: information. My life with Him isn’t built on the Bible being inerrant, or the Bible having no contradictions, or anything of that nature. I think the Bible reflects life: it is interesting, it is baffling, it has dichotomies, it can look different on different days. I do think the Bible is the sacred scripture God gave us. I certainly trust it, and ponder over it. I just don’t expect it to be simple. It wouldn’t be much good to us if it was.


Wikipedia defines Mysticism as “the phenomenon of having a unique experience of communion with God.” This describes my life as a Christian pretty well. It’s always been driven by that experience of communion. I think there are a lot of people like me in Christianity, who are there because of an intensely personal event with Jesus. I know the rhetoric of the church can lay emphasis on, “Because the Bible says so! We do what the Bible says!” But I’m not convinced that all or even most are there because of something they read. I think more are there because of Someone they met.

It’s just a thought, but I wonder if the fact that my spiritual life doesn’t rest on the foundation of the Bible leaves me free to enjoy the scriptures.

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Comments 17 comments

Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

grace, this is GREAT! I have to say that I've had a very similar experience with Scripture. In total honesty, it was very difficult for me to even read before encountering God for the first time, and even then, my understanding of it has grown during the years of my walk with Christ. This hub was very well done. And, acknowledges truths that are difficult for some to accept. Yes, the Bible does contain contradictions, and yes, it was written in a different time and culture from our own, but that does not mean that there are truths that are not applicable to our own time, and our own situations in THIS day and THIS culture. Very well done. Up, useful, awesome, and beautiful! Thank you for this!


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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Mo - Thank you so much for such a flattering response!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

"The Bible Story" books sure hold a lot of warm memories for me. Aren't they great?

I am with you. I encountered God and so became a Follower of Christ long before I had read the Bible a whole lot. Now, I read it every day and even the same old verses edify me anew with insights I didn't notice before. The Holy Spirit helps us along as we seek. Thank you for a great Hub.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

James - I rarely meet another "Bible Story" graduate! They are absolutely wonderful. To study literature that Bible education is invaluable - it's a part of our culture that really is lost. I did an independent study of Herman Melville in high school, and wrote papers about the scriptural allusions in his work. The detail really is amazing - if you read King Ahab's death scene in the Old Testament the parallels between him and Captain Ahab of Moby Dick jump out. When King Ahab dies in battle his soldiers take a spear and use it to prop him up in his chariot, to look as if he is still fighting. Well, there you have Captain Ahab's wooden leg! My opinion about Captain Ahab is that he really is a dead man, spiritually dead, propped up to create the illusion that he is still fighting, when in fact he has lost the battle. -It's an interpretation of course, but I think a plausible one, and all this depth is lost on people who know only the broad ideas of scripture.


Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 5 years ago from trailer in the country

Grace...I love the way you told your story...what is wrong with a mystical experience? God is the Mystery worth finding...He is mystical, yet real. I am tired of Christians who judge because their experience or teaching is different.


Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

Amen, Enlydia!! Until I actually had "mystical" experiences where I actually met God, the Bible made no sense in my spiritual life. After I had met Him and He began to lead me by His Spirit, the Bible opened to me in amazing ways!


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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Enlydia - Sometimes i feel like apologizing for my experiences being ...well, experiences. i think it would be better to just enter in.

Motown - I very much agree that experience makes sense of the Bible. Otherwise it really is like reading a forgein language about a forgein culture.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi Grace :)

I thought that I would read this, since you mentioned it ~ and I find it very interesting.

There is definitely a tendency for (many) Christians to make the Bible central to their faith. Indeed, there is a question on an online forum, somewhere, asking if the Bible has, in fact, become an 'idol'.

And, I must admit, that I tend to say that, if people haven't read the Bible, then they cannot, surely, believe in God or Jesus, since that is the source of the necessary information. Perhaps I am wrong, though.

My Mum is a Christian and she hasn't read the Bible. I'm not sure about now, but, in the past, the Roman Catholics I knew didn't have, or read, Bibles.

As I see it, the spiritual / mystical aspects of the Bible books reflect the feelings and experiences of the Israelites. They were also shared with, and inherited from, other people. It explained the, as yet, inexplicable; it provided a sense of belonging and unity; etc.

And I think that it also reflected the mysterious 'spiritual' ~ experiences of the people.

People do have 'unexplained', apparently 'spiritual', experiences ~ visits from beyond the grave; meetings with ghosts, near death experiences, etc.

I, my family and my friends have had such experiences. I cannot explain them and these mysteries are why I am agnostic, rather than atheist.

The mysterious experiences of the ancient tribes, in my opinion, led to the writing of those mystical aspects of the Bible.

Similarly, your experiences of Jesus ~ as you understood it ~ led you to Christianity, which led you to the Bible.

Thus, the Bible could be a reflections of people's belief in God, without being 100% correct ~ and even without being read.

I don't know whether I am explaining myself very well, but I hope that you can make sense of it :)


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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Trish - I do think Jesus reveals himself directly to many people. It was my own experience. I think the evangelical focus on the bible is a result of the modernist Western mindset liking order and logic, which is fine, all cultures will have their way of faith that works for them. It appeals to what people call the "modern" mindset. I'm a "post modern" thinker, which means I'm more about experience than logical proofs of things. I personally don't think there is a right and a wrong way to see the world - but again that makes me postmodern. A modern will tend to prove to you by logic that their way is the best way.

I keep thinking i should write a hub about modern & post modern.

Nice to talk to you, thanks for visiting here :)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Thanks Grace :)


Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

grace, I'd be very interested in a hub about modern and post modern. I've always held an interest in the differences between the two, and post modern isn't something I understand very well. :)


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graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Mo - It's on my list of hubs i really want to write...which is somewhere on my everexpanding to do list. I keep thinking summer will have a slower pace, but the kids are home all day, and how exactly does that slow down the pace?


Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

I would think it doesn't...lol I'll wait patiently. I know you'll get to it eventually. And, the longer it takes, the more time you'll have to mull it over and make it a real knockout! ;-)


Civil War Bob profile image

Civil War Bob 4 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

Good Hub, Grace...voted up, useful, beautiful, and interesting. When you say you "just tell your story" it reminds me of a tent maker named Saul/Paul who did the same in the book of Acts! Keep steadfast, Sister!


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graceomalley 4 years ago Author

Thank you for such encouraging feedback Civil war Bob!


dianetrotter profile image

dianetrotter 3 years ago from Fontana

This is so beautiful! Not everyone's salavation experience is the same. The Lord works miraculously, individually, in each of our hearts to bring us to himself. I have participated in many of the discussions you speak of and some people are just cruising for an argument. We are the only Jesus some will ever see or hear. We should show His love in all we do.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 3 years ago Author

Thank you for your kind words Diane. People do have very different experiences with God, and I think respect is key.

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