The Bible is not a car owner's manual

Today we hear from Dr. Dobson of the well-known Focus on the Family organization, and his displeasure with Senator Obama's understanding of the Bible. Obama had questioned, two years ago at a meeting of Christians, which Bible passages ought to be used to govern the country. He referenced slavery and the OT prohibitions on eating shellfish as examples of what would not be acceptable, and the Sermon on the Mount as "so radical" it would make the Defense Department unnecessary. I don't know about that conclusion, but Dobson is complaining that Obama has a poor understanding of the Bible, and that he shouldn't be bringing up "antiquated" OT passages that are (somehow?) no longer relevant now that we have the NT. But therein lies the eternal (usually Protestant) problem: which bits of OT are keepers (for Christians) and which are not? How can we (as was discussed in the comments of my last post) make sense of a God who is called Love, and who also gives instructions for raping, pillaging, and enslaving? How in the world is a God whose genius is so limited, that the only way to mend the (alleged) rift between himself and humanity was to impregnate an unwed teenage Hebrew with his son, who is also God, and then torture that son to death-worthy of worship?

Catholics have an advantage in this case, because they rely on the Church as the authority that decides what to believe and what is relevant. How the Church comes to these decisions is too complex for this post, but Protestants have replaced one Pope with a million others and Dobson is just another one.

Take wisdom from wherever you find it; but don't treat the Bible (or other scriptures) as if they are the rationally written "how-to" books of modern times.

I'll end this post with a thought from the Brahmos, a reformist "Hindu" sect with long ties to Unitarianism:

We consider it to be blasphemy and an insult to the Majesty of Heaven to claim Divine inspiration for any act opposed to the dictates of reason, truth, and morality.

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