Should you read the Bible? Whether you’re a believer or not, there’s a case to be made that you should. Unfortunately, when it comes to believers, too often it’s easier to just listen to folks like The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson and have him tell you what the Bible says and what it means. And that can lead to a lot of problems. Jump ahead to 2:45 to see Robertson’s defense of telling people what to know, rather than encouraging them to seek out the knowledge on their own.
I watch The 700 Club daily, am very fond of it. I listen to the questions asked by the audience and I know 98 percent of those questions are a result of people not reading the Word—the Bible. However, I never hear Pat encouraging people to read the Word. Is there a reason why your show doesn’t encourage people to read the Bible? As they read it they should be asking the Holy Spirit to help with their understanding. -Nadia
You might have noticed that Robertson’s first defense is to say that when he answers questions he states, “The Bible says.” The problem is, he doesn’t always say where the Bible says these things.
And that brings us to his next point: “The great majority of the questions that we have are as a result of misinterpretation of the Bible by people who are in authority in churches.” Robertson is spot on with that statement.
In saying “The Bible says” rather than helping people to understand and helping them to find where to search out the answers, he can pick and choose the passages that suit his interpretation without context and without any explanation. This makes it easier to make sure people think and believe as he does.
Take the our first round of questions, for instance. Robertson mentions how the Bible says that husbands and wive’s bodies belong to each other and not themselves. But he doesn’t say where the passage he’s using comes from. If he did, then viewers would be able to read the passage more fully and better understand the context. When you do that, you realize he may have only picked out the part that appeared to support his own beliefs.
That’s why, if I disagree with Robertson, I’ll let you know why, how and where the disagreement is coming from, rather than simply saying “This is the way it is.”
There’s an interesting study that found that people tend to be fairly egocentric in believing that God believes as they do and not as other people do. As the study’s abstract states “Believers commonly use inferences about God’s beliefs as a moral compass, but that compass appears especially dependent on one’s own existing beliefs.”
So be aware of this human folly. Whether you believe the Bible to be the Word of God or not, know that everyone will read it with their own understanding, their own limitations and their own desire to see themselves reflected back in it.
The best way to navigate through this maze of self-interest is not by relying on others to tell you what to believe and how to believe it. It’s by filling yourself with as much knowledge and understanding as you can.
So yes, read the Bible, and know that it’s far more complex than you may realize. Understand that there aren’t just different interpretations out there, but there are also different translations. The oldest Bibles were written in Greek and everything we have is translated from them. Like in English, many words can have different meanings.
Read the Bible, but know that there is more to the world than what’s within it, and there are millions of people who hold beliefs outside of yours, who try to do what’s good and right just as much as you do. Consult with experts, research a variety of sources, and learn as much as you can about how whatever you’re questioning fits into the world at large and not just your own world.
And if you learn anything from Pat Robertson, be sure that it’s to question anyone who says they have the sole key to the truth, whether it’s people “in authority in churches,” Robertson, or myself.