This review will likely not change any opinions about this book. It will perhaps give anyone interested a look into my particular worldview. Disagree with me all you like, for my worldviews are based simply upon questioning, reading and attempting to understand the world according to scripture and observation. For everything I have seen in my life and of the world confirms to me that there is a spiritual side to reality and that there is a powerful God who exists.
When one considers the term religion in this modern world the first and most controversial often seems to be Christianity. Some have called it too violent, others too passive and these paradoxes have been discussed widely by G.K. Chesterton. Since everyone seems to have an opinion about Christianity and the Bible I thought I'd present my own. I specifically leave the rating blank because I do not consider that any star system could effectively 'rate' this book. I further might add that this past year, thanks to a reading plan, is the first time that I have fully read the Bible in its entirety. I consider that it must be read as a whole for what it contains and no one has succeeded in convincing me that basing one's life upon the values in this book will create evil individuals. Radical and revolutionary individuals yes, evil ones no. The Old Testament
I believe that the Bible must be taken in its entirety. Christianity sadly today appears washed out and powerless for having sold out to those who would say that their lifestyles are acceptable or that science has gone beyond the Bible. It is this kind of 'pick your own religion' thought that removes the power of conviction. Today's Christian lacks conviction and this can be seen in the ways in which pastors and believers pick and choose ideas according to their own views.
I find it fascinating that it seems to me this same science which has 'superseded' faith is still bound by faith and vast (in my eyes often illogical) assumptions much as the Bible is. I will stand by my views that evolution as a process is flawed in how it has been presented and debated. It seems that 'evolutionary' processes are visible in nature yet the concept of evolution, the transformation of organisms into other organisms appears to me as bound up in a myriad of assumptions as Christianity/intelligent design. In other words when people look at the evidence I see that one could make the two different assumptions from the same pieces of evidence as nothing seems particularly clear cut. Though others are free to challenge me on this any time.
The Old Testament is not only disliked by many for its reference to the act of creation (which many view as mythical) but for its supposed racism, sexism and general bigotry. Yes, racism, sexism and bigotry do exist within The Bible, yet they are not, in my view condoned by the Bible (or at least by God's words within the Bible) and every argument I have seen to indicate this has not convinced me. Firstly because the arguments are either weak or rely upon translations which are noted for being a touch unreliable or for taking liberty with the original text. Another issue that people have is the supposedly angrier version of God seen in the Old Testament, the God of fire and brimstone. One way to view this is that in the Old Testament men are under a different covenant with God than in the New Testament and that God is made distant by the sinful nature of man in the Old Testament. However in the New Testament Christ allows for God to react to men without most of that righteous anger as punishment for sin.
One of my favourite books in this section of The Bible is the book of Job. It is a tale of suffering allowed by God to reveal his majesty and I love how it is a work of wisdom. Ultimately Job succumbs to believing that he has been unfairly judged by God or judged for his sin. Yet it seems to me that the message in the end is that man cannot understand God's ways, that we have not made this world and do not have the power to create that God does. Also I love that Job in the end is given more than he began with. There is so much to learn from this one book...The New Testament
Ultimately this is a tale of love, a finishing tale composed across the historical narrative of the Bible. This is where the gospel can be seen, the essential message that because of 'original sin', the rebellion against God's original order, that all are sinners. Yet the gospel goes further than this in how it also tells that the pure sacrifice of Jesus Christ saves men from this original sin so long as they make the choice to accept that salvation. It appears to me that the God of the Bible, the God I believe in, always works to give humans choices for he is a God that does not want puppets.
One of my favourite verses in this New Testament is this: 1 Corinthians 6:12 "Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything.
I find that it sums up the approach one should have to many things in life. For instance alcohol or drugs. Perhaps in small doses certain drugs and alcohol may be fine. Or sexuality expressed in the right ways is fine yet the issue comes when we allow ourselves to be enslaved by something else, to idolise an item or object. I intend to be master of my path through God. The famous poem Invictus says: "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."
Yet I am a foolish and childish individual to be captain of my soul, only God can truly captain my soul...My final say
Whatever your thoughts The Bible will always be the most controversial book in the world in my view. It does this by being what it is: uncompromising. Individuals may attempt to spin it according to their own viewpoints and indeed one must attempt to understand the culture and climate in which sections of scripture were composed. I am no theologian in these matters (in fact this is a rough review as it was intended to be as how can I fully explain everything I see in this book?). I am simply a young man continuing to grow and develop emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. However the more I see the more I understand the truth of the words in this book. And the most important thing to me is that I have conviction through faith: Romans 10:10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.