Marlene Winnell’s second quality that she finds rooted in Christianity raises some genuinely challenging questions for readers of the Bible, but like her first point, hangs on an equally superficial reading of the text.

In Winnell’s view for both Trump and the Bible

  1. Might is right.

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trumps-worldview-mirrors-most-archaic-and-apocalyptic-christian-beliefs

Winnell directs the readers’ attention to some of the difficult passages in Scripture, pointing out that in the Biblical narrative God,

sends plagues to Egypt to demonstrate his power (Exodus 7:14—11:10), drowns the earth to punish sin (Genesis 6:7), directs the Jews to slaughter all of Jericho (Joshua 6:21), and scolds a suffering Job out of a whirlwind (Job 38:1-41). The heroes of the Bible—Moses, David, Samson, Elijah, Jesus—were known for unusual power. Jesus not only performed miracles, he single-handedly drove all the merchants from the temple (Matthew 21:12,13). The ultimate image of Jesus is a future one of victoriously returning to Earth with his army of angels (Matthew 24:29-34).

These are difficult passages. They need to be read carefully in the light of the context in which they emerged.

Winnell seems to go to the Bible hoping that she will find there a modern western liberal worldview that would have been totally foreign to writers working 3,000 years ago. The stories to which Winnell alludes emerged in a time and a culture vastly different than the milieu in which we currently live. The question for the modern reader is whether every aspect of these texts must be literally and mindlessly applied in a context very different from that in which they originated.

It is possible to honestly acknowledge the difficult texts of Scripture without having to dismiss the entire canon, simply because certain aspects are awkward, as I have done here: https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/the-hard-bible/.

A careful reader of any ancient text can discern the difference between eternal truths that have universal application and culturally conditioned worldviews or attitudes that are time-bound and need to be rejected in our current context. It would be tragic to lose the timeless wisdom of sacred texts simply because parts of those texts do not reflect in every way the cherished values of our current context.

I have addressed this question here:

https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/interpreting-the-bible/

Winnell argues that:

By far the trait Trump most values is strength, not justice or peace or equality. His measure of success is his money, not his history of how he has treated people. In the Bible, Jehovah God as a role model repeatedly displays his strength, above all.

It is inconceivable that anyone can come away from an honest and thorough reading of the Bible with the impression that anyone might legitimately appeal to its testimony to support the idea that “might makes right” and that the “measure of success is… money.”

The Bible holds at its core the value of love, compassion, justice, generosity, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and peace. The God of the whole Bible is a God of love. For the authors of Scripture, even the sometimes violent and tribal portrayal of God is seen merely as further demonstration of God’s unfailing faithful working in the world towards bringing about the ultimate well-being of all people.

There is an overarching arc to all of Scripture that if we honour it can help us to read the Bible in a way that is faithful to the deep inner meaning of the text.

I cannot imagine many people will have the patience to wade through the many texts of Scripture that support the suggestion that the Bible is fundamentally a book of love and compassion. But, any honest reading of the text needs to at least consider the passages cited here: https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/the-bible-is-a-book-of-love/

 

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