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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Complicated and Simple Bible

On her birthday, I asked my wife what she misses about being younger. My initial example was, "I miss being less concerned with money. The Food Fairy just ensured our fridge was stocked back then." She listed a couple things: "I miss playing outside with my friends in the park," and, "I miss being in choir as a singer. I miss performing a lot." We discussed our childhoods a bit, and I remarked, "I miss thinking the Bible was simple."

I have a nasty habit of overcomplicating things. My mother says, "If there's a hard way to do it, the Hamils will find it." And boy is she right! I can't just wash the dishes; I have to rinse and scrub them all first to keep the soapy water from getting gross. But there seems to be a certain dichotomy among Christians that the Bible is either ├╝ber complex and is in dire need of people to tell you what it says or it's so simple a caveman could do it. Well, which is it?

"I miss thinking the Bible was simple." My wife pursued the question with the thought that we do tend to overcomplicate things. My response was something of a defense. I differentiated between the Bible and the Bible's message. The message of the Bible is, to most, quite simple. But the Bible, as a historical and literary entity, has a convoluted past. The writing, collecting, and editing of the texts, their inclusion in the Hebrew and Christian scripture canons, the reliability of recorded events and details, the purpose(s) of the author(s)... These are complex questions. What is not complicated is, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," the God who keeps "steadfast love to the thousandth generation," "Love your neighbor," and many other things.

I miss thinking the Bible was simple. I'm glad I realize it isn't, but maybe God is reminding me of the simple things.

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