By: Stewart Linthicum
“Have I been viewing the Bible all wrong?”
This thought has plagued my mind continually for the past few months. I have been wrestling with the idea that the way I have grown up viewing the Bible is skewed.
Part of my job focuses on marketing and communication, and that means I spend a fair amount of time trying to understand how other people will react to what I write, create, and distribute. I am always trying to figure out how the world is viewed through the eyes of other people, so it seems normal that I would question the way I view the Bible.
I recently read an article by Brian Zahnd titled, My Problem With The Bible. In this article, Zahnd discussed how the Bible was written. If you look back through God’s Word, you clearly see that it is written from the perspective of the oppressed, the enslaved, and the defeated. This is unique, because as most of you can figure out, history is written by the conquerors. As Americans, we are citizens of a superpower. We have been the conquerors. This puts us in the same group as the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Romans. This is not a bad thing, it just means we have to shift the way we view the Bible.
Think about it, Jesus taught that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. To some Americans this might be a bit unnerving.
In a podcast interview Pastor Oscar Muriu of the Nairobi Chapel in Kenya spoke about Easter and Holy Week from the perspective of the African people. Pastor Muriu said that when the African people read the Easter story they see injustice, oppression, suffering, misrepresentation, and power. He says “It is easy for us to empathize with the suffering Christ.”
Muriu went on to describe how Easter in the west has become a domesticated story.
“The power of the story has been compromised and they can’t see the wonder, power, and statement of Easter.”
As I listened, I couldn’t help but be convicted. I am grateful that I have not experienced much injustice, oppression or suffering in my life. Does that mean it is harder for me to connect with God’s Word?
These thoughts continue to flood my mind. At the end of May, I will be traveling with Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church to Lilongwe, Malawi on a mission trip. I have wrestled with choosing what stories and scriptures to share with the people of Malawi. After all, their view of the Bible is likely much different than mine. The stories and scriptures that speak to me may not have the same impact on the starving men and women living in the villages. However, those people can understand and relate to a Savior who spent forty days fasting in the wilderness. They can have hope because their Savior has suffered hunger just like them.
Brian Zahnd said it best:
“I have a problem with the Bible, but all is not lost. I just need to read it standing on my head. I need to change my perspective. If I can accept that the Bible is trying to lift up those who are unlike me, then perhaps I can read the Bible right.”