First off, let me say up front that I am NOT addressing this to fundamentalists who somehow manage to claim with a straight face that the bible is inerrant and wholly non-contradictory.
Instead, this is addressed to the moderate Christians who make up a large percentage of this message board, those who acknowledge that there are inconsistencies and/or errors in the Bible, and that only certain parts of the Bible should be followed.
Leaving for another thread the question of why God would allow a book as important as the Bible to contain errors and inconsistencies, I’m curious as to how people justify to themselves picking and choosing which parts to follow? In other words, once you have acknowledged that it can’t all be true (or, to put it another way, that some of it must be wrong), what is your yardstick for deciding that this part is true, while that part isn’t? And does it bother you that you might be wrong?
From personal experience and discussions with other people, I can think of the following possible rationalizations for choosing only certain parts of the bible to follow:
[ul][li]Somebody accepts whatever portions of the Bible the religion in which they were raised teaches them to accept (I suspect this is the number one reason, personally).[/li]
[li]Somebody has preconceived notions of what it means to be a “good” person, and accepts as valid only those parts of the Bible that support these notions.[/li]
[li]Somebody rejects the Old Testament entirely as a work of metaphorical fiction, but believes that the New Testament is divinely inspired.[/li]
[li]Somebody rejects both the Old and New Testaments as predominantly works of metaphorical fiction, yet somehow still believes in (a) the divinity of Christ and (b) that the words of Christ are accurately contained in the Bible (i.e., that the words of Christ are the only “true” parts of the Bible).[/li]
[li]Somebody has received what they believe to be personal revelation/inspiration telling them which parts of the Bible should be followed, and which parts can safely be ignored.[/li][/ul]
Have I missed any possibilities? And when people pick and choose from the Bible for whatever reason, do you ever worry if you’ve picked the wrong parts?