For some reason, I typically do all my "deep" thinking while Im at my dish washing job. I've never understood why (possibly for the lack of brain power it takes to complete such a monotonous task) but it really feels like the time that God likes to plants seeds in my mind. Tonight I was thinking about something Ive constantly asked myself over the past few months...is God bound strictly to Christianity? More specifically, is He bound by the collection of writings we call, the Bible?
In past years, Ive always looked to the Bible as the only way to find out anything about God and how to live life. If I had any feelings, or thoughts that weren't backed by several passages and verses (and sermons), I would consider it of the devil! While I still hold to the Bible as the backbone to my beliefs and understandings about God, I'm finding it silly how often we Christians confine him to it...as if He is chained between the binding and the cardboard covers of the Good Book. How can a God who is omnipresent and omnipotent, be a concept that we can slam shut in a single religious text and a set of doctrinal ideas?
On the moral, and intuition side of things, I found I could agree with a lot of things that didn't match up with the typical Christian theology. However on the mental side of things, I couldn't make the leap for the sake of that very theology and the Bible. I took things that (I now feel) God was trying to say to me, and disregarded them merely because they didn't line up with what I had been taught about the Bible. But I no longer think that's what God wants...and at the risk of saying something highly heretical(because I haven't done that in the last 20 blogs haha), I'm coming to believe that personal revelation has the ability to be just as divinely inspired and of God, as the words of the Bible.
As shocking as that may sound to some, I think its somewhat easy to see if we are honest about the Bible and its origins. Without completely saturating it with religiosity, the Bible would seem to be a collection of writings, written by people that claimed to be "inspired" by God to write them. While I do not doubt that the writers were, in fact, inspired by God...I don't think its too much of a stretch to say its not the only things God has inspired people to do. For instance, Ive learned certain things about God and His will for me, before ever hearing it in a sermon or reading it in the Bible. I may have read it somewhere else, or heard it in a sermon at a later point...but I think its limiting to say that Gods main force of inspiration went out to the writers of the Bible and then any inspiration we get hereafter has to strictly feed off of that embodiment. I think its also important to note that the collection of writings we call The Bible, was compiled from among many other "inspired" writings. One such book that was almost put in the Bible, for example, was the book of Enoch(research it if interested).
So all the books we have today in the bible, were chosen at the liberty of a church council(or a series of them)...according to their own biases and personal beliefs. Then, centuries later in the protestant movement, we dropped some of those original canonized books (ex Maccabees) because Martin Luther didn't agree with purgatory and the like. And all this, again, has been done by man...and what they decided to be acceptable doctrine. And then besides all that, there is the whole translation upon translation mumbo-jumbo that I'm not even going to bother getting into right now because I'm lazy(which is actually pretty significant when the meaning of one or two words can and HAS changed the meanings of entire passages).
While I can have faith that God brought together the Bible for a purpose, I don't feel so comfortable saying that it is all that God has to say to us about Himself. Even if what we held today was completely scott-free of any error, that still would not change mans ability to misinterpret scripture. I heavily rely on the Bible to understand God and His ways, and that will probably never change. However I dont think its fair to make it my sole means of life/spiritual perception...nor was it probably even intended to be.
I see the Bible in multiple ways, one fun illustration I came up with, is that its like a "Gods greatest hits" album. Or perhaps more accurately...a tribute/cover album by various artists based off of "Gods greatest hits". While you can learn much about a particular artist and their style based off of a greatest hits or tribute album...it does not paint you a full spectrum of their career. Sometimes there are ways artists play or sing certain songs with such feeling, that none or few others can even properly replicate them. Sometimes an artists greatest hits aren't even that great, just what was chosen as a single at the time of its release. So the only way to truly begin to appreciate the original artist for what they are, is to go beyond the greatest hits, to go beyond the tributes and remixes. In a similar way, to truly understand God, I feel you must look beyond the Bible while at the same time, considering it for all that it is.
I think this idea especially works when you think about the gospels as being 4 tribute albums to Jesus's "hit singles" or most notable sayings(which by the way weren't the only gospels written, but I digress). They each have their own perception, writing style, and "hits" that they have included that others may or may not have. But none of them could have ever said, or perceived those "hits" like Jesus did...especially not 30-60 years after they heard him say them. More over, Jesus never even told His disciples to write down what he said into a book (as far as we know). He also didn't appear to say to put said writings into a mass collection of books that would be hand-picked by a council several years off into the future, to be added to the old scriptures, then mass produced at some point to be used as blinders for every person who wished to follow God. And even beyond that, Jesus never gave a method (let alone an inerrant one) on how to go about creating such a book. Jesus never said any of that to our knowledge, and its curious that if He did, He was not recorded as saying that as it would seem to only give credit to the existence of The Bible.
Again, my intent is not to slam the Bible or even those who believe it to be inerrant. I am also not really saying that the Koran, the book of Mormon (or insert religious text here) should have equal spiritual weight. I cant help but to think of the Bible as being more influential and divine, than any other book(regardless of whether its a result of my personal upbringing, my biases, my culture or personal revelation). All I am really saying, is that as time goes by, I realize that its unfair to contain my idea of God and and His will for my life...strictly to the Bible and the mainstream doctrines we've created around it. God is so much bigger than that, and I think he can use any book(be it religious or not) or any thought or really, any medium to convey truth to an individual as He sees fit.