The bible makes me feel miserable


#1

I never feel more condemned, confused and fearful than when I read the bible. I cant understand how so many people can read it every day and get comfort from it or call it a good book. If I want to feel awful, then I just read the bible! There I read about a God who only loves some of us and cant be bothered to save the rest, that the way is narrow and unfortunately, due to their own ignorance, most people wont find their way to heaven. I also read that we ‘The father loves us because we love Jesus (conditional love) and that we need to strive because ‘we are running a race’ and that we could easily lose our crown of life. I also read that pleasure (feeling happy) is wrong.
These are just a few of the lovely treasures I get from this wonderful book!!!


#2

Hm. So, I guess you’ve gotten some idea where Calvinists get their ideas of Divine Election from now. :wink: As I said in that reply, they aren’t just pulling it out of their butts.

The Bible is a very complex set of texts. I could answer you by pointing you only to the parts that have wonderful rainbowy things to say (like Song of Solomon, which is certainly not about how pleasure is wrong!–or 1 Cor 13, the famous hymn of love from St. Paul); but that would be to disbalance in the other direction. A responsible study has to include and take seriously both parts. Calvs, Arms and Kaths (and our non-Protestant parallels) have different but also partially overlapping ways of solving for the ranges. Historically, in the past 200 years or so anyway, universalists have had an increasingly bad habit of just ignoring the miserable things. I don’t think that’s a good idea at all (despite the fact that I am regularly accused by opponents of doing exactly that–an accusation certainly not based on anything I’ve ever actually written but on ignoring those parts or discounting them as lies on my part or as irrelevantly trivial whiffle statements at best); and I have to give props to Calvs and Arms for having a better track record over time at keeping those parts in mind. I think they do so in a way that is, at bottom, theologically inconsistent, but still they’re in there.

But I suspect you know all this already, based on many of your other comments here on the forum. :slight_smile:


#3

The thing is that I know that I am misunderstanding it but I just felt like having a rant! The problem is that religion has these restrictive ideas and then Gos comes along and says ‘no thats not what Im like at all.’ But uh, we got the idea from your word! Its like God giving all these awful rules in the OT and one move wrong and youre dragged outside to be stoned. Then Jesus comes along and says ‘no Im not like that at all.’
I can see why people say that its full of contradictions!!! Im sure they are just apparent contradictions but if you ask me, Gos does seem to have multiple personalities!


#4

Hi, Seirwyn.

(My apologies again for posting without having posted an introduction) I truly understand how you feel. At times I have read the Bible and found great comfort, but other times I have read and have felt as you describe now. I just want to post something that I wrote recently that may be relevant… And I should mention that something I read by Bob Wilson on this forum helped some of these things gel in my mind.

I hope this may be something of an encouragement to you. As a practical matter, when I feel condemned by the Bible, it helps me to take it in bite size pieces for a while, and often it does help to focus on the more encouraging passages. When I am ready I can go back to the more difficult things, but I realize I am facing those things with God rather than alone.

Andrew


#5

Hi Seirwyn,

I’m one of those who feels comforted by reading the Bible. And I see the Bible teaching that all people eventually get saved. (You can find out a lot more about that in various posts in this forum and you can read the article in my signature.) And I see the Bible teaching us that God wants us to feel happy. Perhaps you didn’t know that the word “blessed” when referring to humans means “a state of happiness”. I pray that you can see the riches of God’s love for you.


#6

Seirwyn,

I’m glad that we can rant here! I suspect many of us sense that the Bible is a challenging and problematical book to read, or to harmonize. My piece, “The Case against Jesus,” under “Essays,” implies this by sympathizing with the Pharisees’ conviction that Jesus appeared to interpret it in a blatantly unbiblical way.

I think many of us form a way of interpretation that amounts to discerning what the Bible’s highest and most central revelations are. Mine is implied in the paper above, as well as in my “Short Case for Universalism.” This may allow us to read the most difficult stuff in light of the more encouraging themes, and thus reduce our dissonance. But then, of course, I still encounter times of doubt as to whether my way of reading it does objective justice to its’ intent.

Thanks for sharing your perceptions and challenges,

Bob Wilson