Because life is a series of edits

Sure Looks Like a Squirrel to Him

In Seminary Tychicus on August 12, 2005 at 12:07 pm

Last night, as Learner and his classmates made it to the fifth and final chapter of their 1 John translations, Learner said he had the thought that studying anything academically legitimizes it, regardless of whether it deserves to be legitimized or not. And that idea was interesting to him, so much so that he spent most of the rest of class thinking about it instead of his Greek.

It’s not that Learner thinks the Bible is illegitimate; far from it. From what he knows of the world’s religions (which, granted, is hardly exhaustive), the Scriptures seem the most curious and compelling story told. And “curious” and “compelling” are two of Learner’s favorite adjectives – whether describing religion or anything else – and count for a lot in his mind with regard to authenticity.

But Learner says he wonders why other books can seem almost as curious and compelling, or at least have been so to millions of people of other religions throughout history? For instance, he wonders, what does a class with a professor teaching the Koran – outlining and diagramming it, devoting weeks and months and eventually years to it as Learner is and will do – actually look like? Would it feel similar to what he’s doing now? He guesses it probably would.

Walking through the seminary’s library, Learner is repeatedly reminded of just how much has been thought and written about the Bible. Would the Koran (or any other “holy” book) hold together as well and as easily as the Bible seems to (for it really does, he thinks)? Truly? Objectively? If so, what does that mean? What if not? Would the feeling of literary justification be the same? Greater? Less?

Is the Bible still around as the world’s bestseller because it’s truly inspired, or because the study of it through the ages has merely kept it on people’s shelves over time as historic, interesting literature? Have centuries of study and spin (for the two inevitably go together to some degree) had anything to do with why it’s still around?

Or maybe it really is true that God preserves and protects His Word, which would, of course, be “the right answer,” kind of like “Jesus” is the answer to most questions asked in Learner’s children’s Sunday School classes (“I know the answer’s ‘Jesus,’ but it sure looks like a squirrel to me,” as the joke humorously goes).

In thinking through some of this, Learner says that the Bible is strangely becoming both more and less important in his mind. And that dual transition, he says, is weird not only to consider, but also to explain, as it seems both healthy and dangerous at the same time.

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