Marcus Borg, interviewed online at the Progressive Christian Portal has something to say about how we read the Bible today. And he encourages clergy to be honest about their own stance when it comes to passages of the Bible with which they disagree.
“”Sometimes words in the Bible are wrong.” That’s a dangerous thing for clergy to stand up and say in American churches, yet that’s one of the main messages of your work.
I would love it if every clergyperson would stand up and say to their congregations: “Sometimes the Bible is wrong.” There is a taken-for-grantedness in conservative American Christian culture—and it’s true, I think, in much of mainline Christianity today as well—that understanding the Bible is simple. And, if the Bible says something is wrong, then that pretty much settles it. There are very few Christians who are willing to stand up and say, “Sometimes the Bible is wrong.” Yet, I think that’s really important for Christians to say occasionally.
Before some of our readers start throwing things at their computer screens, let’s remind them that what you’re saying actually makes a lot of common sense if we stop to think about the whole scope of the Bible.
Obvious examples are passages in the Bible that say slavery is OK. And, there are some passages in the Bible that absolutely prohibit divorce. In Mark 10:9, it’s complete. Matthew has an exception clause: except for reasons of adultery. Then, there are clearly passages in the New Testament that expect Jesus to come again very soon from their point in time. Now, 2,000 years have passed. There are so many more examples where in plain terms we need to say, “Sometimes the Bible is wrong.””
This is definitely worth the read. Especially so if you’re not terribly familiar with Borg’s sense of how we ought to read the biblical works (hermeneutics). If you read what he says carefully, there’s less here than appears at first glance. But its probably worth saying this way just to get people to thoughtfully engage what they individually believe.