The title of this post is completely wasted here and should head a novel, but . . . what prompted this post is a university I ran across while reading another blog: the College of Biblical Representational Research of Trinity Southwest University. That’s a really intriguing name for a bible college, so I went to their website where I read this:
“We can confidently describe the Bible as a reliable history, the source of doctrine, and as instructions about how to be saved and lead the Christian life. But this Bible is under attack from within Christianity. Representational Research meets those challenges and demonstrates how the Bible is first of all a representation of the mind of God, and also a completely accurate representation of all of reality. Biblical people—from Adam to John the Revelator—found the same question that students of Representational Research face: How can I challenge and refine my own personal representations of reality, using the Bible only as my guide?” The italics are mine.
This is interesting because of the large number of contradictions to be found in their Bible (almost 500 by one count). Realize that contradictions in this context means that the Bible says one thing and then turns around and says something else which refutes what it says in the first place. This is hard to reconcile with being “a completely accurate representation of all of reality.” Similarly the science in the Bible is of the late Bronze age and contains inaccurate statements about physical reality.
In addition Israeli archeologists now say that much (if not all) of the “history” in the first five books of the Bible did not happen. This is risky for Israel in that their claim to the territory they currently occupy is bolstered by their feeling that it is the territory that God granted them (the story of which is in the first five books . . .).
So why the insistence on these absolutes, exemplified by the CBRR above, but typical of evangelicals all over this country (not so much anywhere else)?
I find this interesting because in the U.S. life is about as secure as it can be made (albeit we could do a better job on poverty, etc.); it is hard for these particular folks to feel threatened in this country. What country can challenge us militarily? Or economically? They don’t live in the dreaded “inner cities” where all of the crime is. So, why the need for absolute truth?
Their behavior is exactly the opposite of John Donne’s “no man is an island” sentiment. If these folks really felt a connection to the divine, why are they so fearful that they have to insist on absolutes. Is there any other example of a book with no errors? Of a person who spoke only the truth? If the good people at the CBRR were to invest in a bit more unbiased scholarship, they would know that the Bible was written largely out of political uncertainties felt by the authors. Each gospel represented factions in the Christian community fighting for their place among the other Christian communities. So, other texts were rewritten to express what they felt was right. This is why the New Testament is full of contradictions. They were placed there deliberately to make political points. (This warfare continues today in that over 40,00 sects of Christianity exist, each insisting that the others are wrong about something.)
Maybe the reason is the same reason they are a Bible University and not a Bible College (FYI a university has graduate programs, a college does not) in that their Ph.D. in BRR consists of only 45 credit hours (1.5 years) of work, whereas a typical Ph.D. program requires 4-6 years of work. Maybe if they spent more time reading without an agenda . . . nah! Reality may not be absolute, but it certainly is personal.