GodsBigBlog: I Can’t Believe Everything in the Bible

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

“The word of the Lord.”

I say that along with everyone else on Sunday mornings when scripture is read aloud in church.

But do I believe it? Do I accept the Bible as the word of God?

Not today.

Right now I’m reading from the Book of Joshua – the part where the Israelites finally reach the Promised Land and God is about to clear out the folks who already occupy it:

“Joshua said, ‘ . . . among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites . . .’” (Joshua 3:10)

God? Drive a people from their homes? Start a war? Am I missing something? Does this passage really come from the lips of God?

It seems to me that fallible human minds devised this text, and it’s been used in centuries since by other fallible human minds to justify their own aggression – the Crusades in Europe, the settling of the American West.

I’m not surprised when human beings – including the redactors of Joshua – claim that God is on their side, politically, economically, morally. I see people in the news making such claims every day.

What’s surprising is this – when Joshua 3 is read in church next Sunday, I’ll go right ahead and join my congregation and the generations of Christians who’ve gone before us in saying, “The word of the Lord.”

Am I perjuring myself? I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure God speaks to us through our mistakes and excesses – including those of our biblical predecessors. Which means that even this uncomfortable Joshua passage carries with it the word of God.

Read more on the Church Divinity School of the Pacific Facebook Forum page.

Joshua 3:7-17

Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 or Micah 3:5-12 Psalm 43

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

Matthew 23:1-12

LECTIONARY:  Lectionary, Pent 20, Prop 26, RCL-A:



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© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Barbara Falconer Newhall. and www.GodsBigBlog.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara Falconer Newhall and www.GodBigBlog.com with appropriate and specifc direction to the original content. Bible texts are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA. The Psalms are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. Material originally published and copyrighted by the Oakland Tribune is posted here by permission. WordPress theme adapted from Thematic Theme Framework