Why Is The Bible So Confusing?
I had a lot of fun over the last few weeks, talking about the bible, what it is, how to approach it, and so on (and I am equally excited to launch our new series – see below). I loved our AMA (ask me anything) time (I hope you did too), and I hope to do more sessions like that in the future. I appreciated all of your questions, and love the fact that you’re reading scripture, pondering, puzzling, and seeking.
Scripture can be puzzling, but it is also inexhaustibly rich.
And that made me think a bit more on the puzzling, often difficult to understand nature of scripture. Why is it like that? Why isn’t it more straightforward? Why is it so confusing at times? Why does it seem like you need a PhD in ancient Greek to get it, and even those people seem to disagree?
Why isn’t God more clear in the one book he breathed?
There’s a few thoughts I’ll briefly share about that, and hopefully this is helpful.
The first thought:
maybe it is more clear – but we’re just so shaped by our own time and so distant from the bible’s time – that we have a hard time connecting dots that the first hearers of scripture would have connected easily. Maybe when Jesus said things that were really confusing (like what we’re reading in Luke right now!), the first century hearers would have gotten the gist of it right away. Maybe.
But a second thought:
maybe we shouldn’t expect it to be as simple as we want it to be. We want the bible to be clear, simple, and straightforward – and that makes sense – but maybe God is too grand for that, and maybe life is too complex for that. The bible addresses some of the BIG questions in life…do we expect simple answers to questions people have been wrestling with forever? Maybe the struggle is part of faith, and so it’s sort of ‘baked in’ to the bible.
And that brings me to a third thought:
everything big, that is really worth learning and that explains how the world works – always takes a lifetime of learning, piece by piece, struggling through, discovering breakthroughs, and even then, never quite ‘getting it’ thoroughly. Take math, for instance. We “learn” math in school…but can you ever “complete it” so that you “know math”? There’s always more to learn, more to understand, or if you’re one of those math genius types, there’s more for you to theorize and discover! And in most things like this, what you’ll hear experts say is that the more they learn and understand, the more questions arise and the more they realize how much they don’t actually know! Why would God, spirituality, human beings, and the meaning of life be any different?!?
I’ve got other thoughts, but here’s a final one:
maybe not knowing everything is part of being human and so part of the plan and so part of the bible – and because we can’t know everything, we need to learn to trust God for the rest. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t always seek understanding, but it means that we’ll never fully get there – and that’s ok – because maybe what life is all about is learning to trust God more than we trust ourselves.
Where have we heard that before? Oh, yeah, scripture.
It’s kind of right there on page one (think: Adam and Eve, serpent and trees…what was it all about? Seeking more knowledge rather than having to trust God for his!)
It’s like we need to learn the lesson of Proverbs 3:5, to