I love the Bible. I think it’s an awesome book. But here’s the thing. I don’t “believe” in the Bible.
I don’t believe Christians are supposed to “believe” in the Bible. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s an amazing book that has a lot of great teachings. But there’s a reason we are not called “Biblians.” Progressive Christians don’t “believe” in the Bible. We believe in Jesus.
Jesus was once asked to boil down the scripture into its essence. What’s the whole point of this religion business? Jesus said that the law and the prophets hang on two commands: Love God and Love your neighbor. Why should we do that? Because for Jesus, God is love.
What’s the whole point of religion? Love.
Now, if you are like me, you know that there are many depictions in the Bible of God as acting anything but loving. That whole thing with commanding the Israelites to kill the Canaanites, for example. That wasn’t very loving. And then there was the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Oh, and that big flood that killed everyone except for Noah and his family.
But you know what? I don’t believe those violent stories are accurate depictions of God. I think sometimes the authors of the Bible got God wrong. The Bible is a library of books written by different people who were trying to understand what God was up to in their lives. Sometimes they got it right, but sometimes they got it wrong.
Jesus, on the other hand, got it right. Many claim that the Bible is the Word of God. But the Bible never makes that claim. Instead, the Bible says that Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus is the full revelation of God, not the Bible.
And so, Progressive Christians take the Bible seriously, but we don’t always take it literally. I take the violent passages of the Bible as serious depictions of people projecting their own violence onto God. But Jesus doesn’t let us get away with that. Jesus says that instead of killing our enemies, God wants us to love them.
I think Progressive Christianity has the most important message for our times. Universal, unconditional, determined love. That’s who God is. That’s who God calls us to be. And that’s what the world needs now more than ever.