Velvet Elvis pgs. 61-66, “Real Real Real”

I agree with the overall goal of Bell here.  We need to read the Bible contextually.  The practice of citing verses out of context and trying to tie them together in a way that was never intended and isn’t true to the larger truths of the Bible is just dangerous.  As he notes earlier, the Bible can indeed be made to sound as though it advocates just about any course of action.  However this is not the case, and this is what Bell wants to get at.

However in the pursuit of this goal, I get a bit uncomfortable.  Because at times, Bell makes the Bible sound too much like just another book.  A book written by lots of people, but written by people all the same.  And this is true at one level.  However Christianity (and Judaism before it) holds that these books are also inspired by God.  So it becomes more than just people writing.  It becomes God working through people to ensure that certain things get noted, written down, passed on.

I have no doubt that the writers of each particular book had no idea how their writings would be sustained over time.  I have no doubt that few of them had much idea the greater import of their words.  But we can’t simply treat these words like we do other books.  They aren’t subject to *all* of the same limitations and critical approaches.  Yes, that’s a stance of faith.  But it’s one we have to either take or reject.  Either this book is different from every other book ever written or ever to be written, or it’s not. 

So yes, context is important.  Yes, Christians should be taught and encouraged to be more knowledgable about the contextual issues of the Bible.  Yes, it enriches the reading so much more.  But context is not everything.  It’s part of the mix.  It’s part of a mix where we don’t know the ratios, we just know a few of the ingredients.  But to ignore the Holy Spirit – who doesn’t play by our rules of literary criticism – is a dangerous move.  I don’t believe Bell intends to make that move here, but in his eagerness to

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