Somebody recently said to me, "As long as you teach the Bible, I have no problem with you."
Think about that for a moment.
What that person is really saying is, "As long as you teach my version of the Bible, I'll have no problem with you." And the more people insist that they are just taking the Bible for what it says, the more skeptical I become.
I have to call 'shenanigans' here. Does Bell really think that we are completely unteachable, only wanting to hear what we already know? What attitude would make him happy? One that would accept anything any teacher calling themselves Christian may say?
A phrase such as "As long as you teach the Bible" does say at least one thing, that the person saying it has some knowledge of what the Bible says. Not perfect knowledge, certainly, but although I do agree to some degree that the Bible can be difficult, it is not all difficult.
I would say that by that phrase, the person meant that as long as Bell teaches what is plainly taught in the Bible, there would be no problem. If, for example, he tries to tell us that the Bible teaches that Christians need to return to the Mosaic law and for example men need to be circumcised, then there would be problems.
So, I'm not prepared to accept Bell's interpretation of this person's statement, and certainly not that every person who thinks that way means what Bell means. It seems more like an attempt on his part to dismiss such thinking, though I question why he would want to. As a pastor, he should want people to see if what he or any other pastor or teacher is saying is biblical.
Which for me raises one huge question: Is the Bible the best God can do?
With God being so massive and awe-inspiring and full of truth, why is his book capable of so much confusion?
Why did God do it this way?
Where does on go in trying to make sense of what the Bible even is, let alone what it says?
I find this a bit disturbing. Perhaps he means to be provocative. Very well.
Is the Bible the best God can do? Does anyone, even Bell, really want to say 'not'?
Why is the Bible capable of so much confusion?
That question is actually pretty good. I don't want to blithely dismiss the Bible's difficulties, but maybe more importantly, why do people insist on making it confusing? I suspect there are many issues that have been called confusing not so much because the Bible is confusing, but because there are people who do not like the Bible's teaching and so try to muddy the waters, to add confusion, so they can explain away.
Why did God do it this way? Again, do any of us want to say God should have done it some other way?
Where can we go to understand the Bible?
That's a fair question. There are no lack of resources, but how are we to know which are the best and which are dead wrong?
Here is Bell's answer, or at least the part that he writes about in that part of the book.
For me, clarity has begun to emerge when I've begun to understand what Jesus believed about the Scriptures.
I have no problem with that answer, again as far as it goes. But at least for the next several paragraphs, which I'm not going to put here, I'm not sure what he means by this statement.
I have recently listened to a couple of mp3 audios from a man called Mark Driscoll, a pastor in Seattle. The audios were him talking about the Scripture, and in one part of it he goes into how Jesus viewed them. He tells how Jesus treated the OT as real history--that for example Jesus says that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, that Isaiah wrote the book now called Isaiah, that Daniel wrote the book of Daniel. He goes into it more, but the point for now is that Jesus treated the OT as real history.
With Driscoll, I have a pretty good idea of what he would mean if he says something like what Bell wrote above. Maybe I'm missing it, but I haven't seen where Bell explain his understanding of what Jesus believed about the Scriptures. I'm really not trying to be difficult, I'm just not seeing it.