The Bible Tells Me So, Chapter 1: I’ll Take Door Number Three

When the Bible Doesn’t Behave

  • Enns begins by writing about how many have been taught about the bible. Does what he describes match what you were taught?
  • Some recent movies have provided a remake of some of the commonly known stories in the Bible (Noah, Exodus). What do you think the making of these movies have to say about how society currently views the Bible?
  • After referring to how Israel occupied their new homeland, the land of Canaan, Enns writes, “The God of the universe often comes across like a tribal warlord.” Enns goes on to ask:
    • What are we supposed to do with a Bible like this?
    • What are we supposed to do with a God like this?
  • “The Bible can become a challenge to one’s faith in God rather than the source of faith, a problem to be overcome rather than the answer to our problems.” (location 139, second to the last paragraph of this section)

The Bible Isn’t the Problem

  • Has anyone experienced “Bible induced” stress as described by Enns?
  • “The problem is coming to the Bible with expectations it’s not set up to hear.”
  • “What if God is actually fine with the Bible just as it is without needing anyone to stand guard over it? … Maybe this Bible has something to show us about our own sacred journey of faith, and maybe God wants us to wander off the beach blanket to discover what that is.” (location 183)

My Life, in Brief, and Such as It Is

  • “If I’m going to do this Jesus thing, I’m going to know what I’m talking about.”

Concerning Camel’s Backs and Beach Balls

  • Writing about his conservative seminary days: “But looking back, it seems we were all caught up in a system that exerted a deep, subliminal pressure on its members to conform — a system that apparently couldn’t hold it together without exercising some serious information control” (location 265)
  • “I was also beginning to mourn the fact that my life, filled with church, Christian college, and even seminary, produced a set of beliefs that could so quickly melt away simply by paying attention to a few lectures and reading some books over the course of a few months.”
  • “Shifting my thinking on the Bible did not mean I was losing my faith in God.”
  • How did the Israelites get water in their forty-year desert journey between Rephidim and Kadesh? The Bible never tells us. Some Jewish interpreters came up with the idea that the rock at the beginning and end was the same rock, and obviously it followed the Israelites around in the desert for forty years.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:4
  • “I swung my knapsack over my shoulder and said — and this is an exact quote — ‘Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.'”

Door Number Three

  • Door number one: I could ignore what I just heard that day in Sanders Theatre
  • Door number two: I could take the door my tradition expected of me, which is to push back against what I just heard.
  • Door number three: I could face what I just saw, accept the challenge, and start thinking differently about the Bible.
  • “I needed to learn (apparently the hard way) that trusting God is not the same thing as trusting the Bible — let alone my own ideas about the Bible.” (location 355)

So What’s My Point?

  • “My goal for this book, then, is to assure people of faith that they do not need to feel anxious, disloyal, unfaithful, dirty, scared, or outcast for engaging these questions of the Bible, interrogating it, not liking some of it, exploring what it really says, and discerning like adult readers what we can learn from it on our own journey of faith.”
  • What do you feel about the three big controversial issues that Enns describes in this section? (location 413)

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