On Saturday evening I made it along to the Great Debate at the Brisbane Writer's Festival and the topic was Reading the Bible is good for you? There is so much to say and there was so much said. I hope to be saying some more soon. But for now, let's just go with a vibe and one observation.
It certainly was a fun night because even the predicable positions were argued with wit and verve (with just a couple of low blows). Jacqui Payne on the negative team made us all laugh with her sharp observation that reading the Bible is not good for you because the font is too small and the Bible is too boring. Sure, we’ll stay up all night to read a crime novel but when was the last time that happened reading the Bible?
Despite some of the arguments being predicable, some were wonderfully surprising from surprising people. Who would have thought that Germaine Greer, who argued we ought to read the Bible, would speak so eloquently of the wonderful human yearning expressed in the Bible?
Yet one of my fears was confirmed. Those speaking for the positive that we ought to read the Bible were not those that represent the vast majority who do read the Bible. The three positive speakers were Germaine Greer, Richard Holloway (former Bishop of Edinburgh) and Bob Katter. Both Germaine and Richard said that the Bible was not God's word. It was not written by God but by men. Bob Kattar was somewhat closer to the mark, in that he follows Jesus and calls himself a Christian. However, he explicitly stated more than once that he does not read the Old Testament.
This is a pretty major oversight I would have thought. Surely at the Brisbane Writers Festival they would want to treat books with literary integrity? The Bible claims that it is entirely from God, not just some of it. Surely, they could have found someone who treats the Bible with literary integrity? Even if they are a nutcase Christian who believes God is the ultimate agent working through human authors to write the Bible.
It was a bit like having three people who don't believe in Shakespeare argue about the merits of Shakespeare's plays and writing skills. It seems a little strange doesn’t it? Next time, perhaps they could consider inviting people who read and believe the whole Bible. Maybe someone from the Bible Society?