Tuesday, May 1, 2012

There Is A Right Way to Handle the Bible: My Two Cents on the FB 'Open Letter to Miriam Quiambao" Let's Defend Every Word in the Bible'

I recently saw a link that was shared in Facebook, an "Open Letter to Miriam Quiambao: Let's defend every word in the Bible!" Being a pastor and a man who studies and teaches the Bible, I became curious about it and started reading. When I first saw the title I thought it was something that is for the Bible but as I read it, I found out it wasn't. It was a sarcastic reply to whatever Miriam Quiambao said or posted online about something.

As I further investigated, this note or article entitled "Open Letter to Miriam Quiambao: Let's defend every word in the Bible!" is a personal response to Miriam Quiambao's statements in Boy Abunda's Saturday night show, Bottomline where she, based on the reaction of many netizens, made statements about religion and homosexuality which offended people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. I did not see the show but I learned about it through an online article in Manila Bulletin. After that show, there were many who reacted in Twitter and this FB open letter is one of the reactions to that Saturday night episode.

As I read the article on FB, I started to see that it was a sarcastic response to Miriam Quiambao's stance on the Bible about homosexuality. And as a student of the Bible, which I believe to be the Word of God, written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is therefore true and the source of absolute truth, I can't help but share my thoughts on the open letter. First, I understand that the person who wrote the open letter to Miriam Q. was a man who reads the Bible as well. His knowledge of bible references was obvious. But his conclusions and interpretations were wrong.

2 Timothy 2:15-17 says "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene." There is a right, correct and accurate way to handle the word of God. A person cannot just go on reading the Bible and give a quick interpretation of its content. The friend of the person who wrote the open letter said it right, those "words should not be taken out of context."

The right way to interpret the Bible starts from observation - looking at the context, who the author is, who the original intended recipients of the book are and understanding the culture that they live in. Even the type or genre of the book has to be considered because different books of the Bible were written in different literary genres such as poetry, prophecy, letters/epistles and historical narrative (many books of the Old Testament were written in this genre) where identifying the author, original recipient, the purpose of writing and the culture of their recipients are very important to observe before making any interpretation. You do not approach the different literary genres in the same way - you do it differently. Without considering these things any person can make erroneous interpretations and derive wrong principles from the Bible which can easily be discerned by a sincere student of God's Word and eventually filter and throw it out in a tumbler compost.

The next important thing is to have the right attitude and heart toward the Word of God. Meaning, if a person believes that the Bible does not just contain the Word of God but IS the Word of God then that person must believe that the Bible is truth and is without error, that it does not contradict itself. So any contradictions one thinks is found has a right explanation that is consistent with the character of God and His attributes. 

Either you believe the Bible to be this way, because that's what it claims to be, or totally scrap the Bible and say that it is wrong because its claims do not hold any middle ground where you just select what is convenient for you to follow, like most people do. It is either absolutely true or absolutely false.

So, for those who say that they believe in the Bible yet they cheer for this open letter to Ms. Miriam Quiambao, take a step back and think - because whether we believe it or not, the Bible is absolute truth and there is a right way to extract the universal principles from it and perhaps, if you are sincere about discovering God through His complete and final revelation, the Bible, read it for yourself and learn how to handle it correctly. As you do this, you will discover not just knowledge but true wisdom which comes through the Person whom the Bible is revealing - Jesus Christ.