The Purpose of the Bible

When I began these bLogs my intention was to put forward various ways to open up the Bible so that it can make more sense to our modern minds. I hoped to appeal to anyone regardless of their religious beliefs as well as those who had no religious beliefs.

Many theologians and church leaders, who influence vast followers of organised religion, have a very limited view of what the words in the Bible mean. Some even go so far as to suppress its meaning so that they are in a position of control over their congregations; one example among many is Papal Decrees.
Then, even those who have glimpsed inner meanings in the Bible apply them in a narrow way. Instinctually – perhaps influenced by past life memories –when some people are presented with Biblical stories they enter into a mystical feeling element of religiosity at the expense of clear thinking. It is almost as if people get drunk on scripture and cannot see or hear into the true meaning of the words. We could call this blind belief although those who experience it would strongly disagree. For them it is a real experience but they cannot express it clearly in words indicating that it does not enter their ability to think. ie, they have no ideas about their experience.

Still others, who are able to think about what they read don’t like what they see and are unwilling to measure their own activity by what they read. Then, the other way is to reject scripture and religion – perhaps because it is seen to be nonsense; what they hear expressed by those who say that they know makes no rational sense.
This is a major problem to be faced in the immediate future as we are forced to make sense of this world and our place in it. Rudolf Steiner spoke the following words in 1912 which shed some light on our task. May I add that many of his adherents have no interest in the Bible nor what he had to say about the entrance of Christ into the man Jesus. I suggest that this is exactly the issue the church faces – picking out the bits they want to understand, the bits that suit their purpose, and discarding the rest. I speak plainly here without the intention of damaging anyone’s ego – each of us is called to examine how our ego responds to anything that we read and if we can engage our I Am and become the interested observer we will see elements of truth in my words.

It remains to be said that the deed of Christ was for all humanity, the various religious beliefs are different ways to experience this deed. If we can open our hearts and appreciate how each person experiences the presence of Christ – even if they don’t call it that – in whatever religion or philosophy they dedicate themselves to, we are standing in the purpose of the deed of Christ which at its core says, “Love one another.”

These are Rudolf Steiner’s significant words spoken almost 100 years ago. As we read them we can ask ourselves how we have contributed to the founding of this universal Christianity.

“Indeed, it has often been emphasized that in [evolutionary] developments such as those here referred to, all that has taken place since the Mystery of Golgotha is not particularly meaningful. As yet everything is only at the beginning; only during the future evolution of the earth will the great impulses that may be ascribed to Christianity make themselves felt. Over and over again we must emphasize the fact that Christianity is only at the beginning of its great development. If we wish to play a part in this great development, we must enter with understanding into the ever increasing progress of the revelations and impulses which originated with the founding of Christianity. Above all we are required to learn something in the immediate future; for it does not take much clairvoyance to see clearly that if we wish for something definite to enable us to make a good beginning in the direction of an advanced and progressive understanding of Christianity, we must learn to read the Bible in quite a new way. There are at present many hindrances in the way, partly because of the fact that in wide circles biblical study is still carried on in a sugary and sentimental manner. The Bible is not made use of as a book of knowledge, but as a book of common use for all kinds of personal situations. If anyone has need of it for his own personal encouragement, he will bury himself in one or the other chapter of the Bible and allow it to work on him. This seldom results in anything more than a personal relationship to the Bible. On the other hand, the scholarship of the last decades, indeed that of virtually the whole nineteenth century, increased the difficulty of really understanding the Bible by tearing it apart, declaring that the New Testament is composed of all kinds of different things that were later combined, and that the Old Testament also was composed of many different parts which must have been brought together at different times. According to this view, the Bible is made up of mere fragments which may easily produce the impression of an aggregate, presumably stitched together in the course of time. This kind of scholarship has become popular; very many people, for example, hold that the Old Testament is combined out of many single parts. This opinion disturbs the serious reading of the Bible that must come in the near future. When such a serious way of reading the Bible is adopted, all that is to be said about its secrets from the anthroposophical viewpoint will be much better understood. Rudolf Steiner, St Mark Lecture September 16, 1912

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