Wednesday-Weird-Bible-Verses and being careful of how we use single Bible verses

December 7, 2011 — 16 Comments

Over the past two or three years I have paid attention to how often we quote single Bible verses on Facebook pages or we Twitter a single Bible verse. I love Scripture and it is always refreshing seeing inspired Scripture posted on-line. So I am all for quoting verses of Scripture. Jesus quoted passages of Scripture and it is wonderful seeing BIble verses popping up on Twitter and Facebook.

But there a couple of interesting things to think about regarding these single Bible verse posts. One is that we have to be careful when we quote one Bible verse or use a single Bible verse to then apply to something directly in our life. Greg Koukl from Stand To Reason said it well here about how we need to be careful in how we use single Bible verses. So I won't go into that here, but there is another observation I would like to make. 

Happy faceWhen you scan Twitter and Facebook, virtually all the Bible verses that are quoted, are always the positive, encouraging and cheery ones. Again, all Scripture is inspired, so I absolutely love the positive and encouraging cheery verses. May those quoting them continue to do so, as we need cheer and encouragement in this world for sure from God inspired words.

But…. in the Bible there is also hundreds and hundreds of verses that aren't the nice, encouraging and cheery ones. My friend Mike Frost posted on his Facebook a couple weeks ago that he noticed it was all the happy ones always quoted and it got me thinking about this. Who quotes the other ones? And why aren't we quoting them if they are inspired Scripture just like the cheery and happy ones? The Bible is filled with verses that you never see in those daily calendars with a Bible verse each day in it. Or on Christian coffee cups or t-shirts or memory verse cards. There are hundreds of very strange sounding, weird, sex descriptive, bizarre and even violent verses in the Bible. It shouldn't be a surprise as life is filled with weird, bizarre and all kinds of unusual things. The Bible captures life at different time periods in history and I love the honesty of the Bible. That is one of the things when I first was studying the Bible I was impressed with and made me have more confidence in it's inspiration. If it was soley a human document, we probably would have cleaned up all the stories to have nice endings and removed the weird sounding things. But I believe God gave us an accurate record of what was happening and left in the happy, encouraging parts as well as the bizarre, weird and not so happy ending parts. 

Something else about the weird, sometimes violent and difficult to understand passages from the BIble is that they are being noticed. If you are to read some of the neo-atheist writings, you find that these types of Bible verses are the very ones they are pointing out. I have been in multiple conversations with college students who have raised up these very type of Bible verses which generally are not the ones rasied up. But today, there are web sites such as this one which strive to show many of these Bible verses as evidence why Christianity cannot be true. (I have seen a bunch of these web sites and not abandoned faith, so I do believe there are rational, reasonable responses to claims such as this web site and others make). However, many Christians aren't prepared to respond to when these Bible verses are pointed out and I have talked to some who never even realized they were in there. So I will on most Wednesdays point out a Bible verse that is more of an unusual one. Sometimes I will give some explanation of it, sometimes I will just post the verse.  

There are a lot of Christians who post the hundreds of encouraging and cheery verses (which I am thankful they do), so I am going to once a week post the not-so-cheery and often very weird sounding verses in the Bible. My hope is it will raise up an awareness of these types of verses and have us pay attention to them more, so when we are asked about them or read about them in books are blogs that point them out trying to disprove Christianity – we then aren't caught offguard. I think the more difficult, strange verses actually force us to be better students of the Bible. 

A classic and well known almost cliche example of a strange story from the BIble I will start with today is from 2 Kings 2:23-25. The story goes:

"From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys."

So basically, Elisha gets made fun of by some youth for being bald. Elisha then calls a curse on them and two bears kill all 42 boys. Here's a video portraying the weird sounding story:

 



 

I won't go into an explantion of this story, you can read one here. But it will be strange and weird Bible stories and verses like this I will quote or highlight on Wednesdays.

There are so many who post the hundreds of encouraging and cheery verses, I am going to once a week post the not-so-cheery and often very weird sounding verses in the Bible. My friend Mike Frost posted on his Facebook a couple weeks ago that he noticed it was all the happy ones always quoted and it got me thinking about this. Who quotes the other ones? And why aren't we quoting them if they are inspired Scripture just like the cheery and happy ones? I think the more difficult, strange verses actually force us to be better students of the Bible – as we think "What the heck does this mean?!?". 

Book God Behaving BadlyA few weeks ago in Vintage Faith Church, we had Professor David Lamb speak in our 3 worship gatherings and then had an open forum after the evening one. He talked about whether the God of the Old Testament is a violent angry God (based on some of the stories in the Old Testament). The place was packed and at the Open Forum we had in The Abbey that night, it was also packed and crowded. I moderated the questions coming in and it was a totally wonderful evening having discussion with a scholar about these things. We sold out of David's books too (God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?)  To me, it shows there is such interest in learning these things. The good news is when we look past the surface we can generally gain some insight to why the verses are so incredibly weird, bizarre and difficult to understand. Sometimes we can't and will have to live with the fact they just are weird and we can't understand them. But more often than not, there are some reasonable answers when you don't just look at them in isolation and not in context. Or look into culture at that time so the passages are then interpeted based on a cultural context as well. 

So, I shall begin posting on Wednesdays a weird, strange, or bizarre sounding Bible verse. Some weeks I will do a little study on it and write that here,  time-permitting. On other weeks I wil just post the verse like mainly happens with the way the cheery, happy ones are posted. There are some verses I will only post the book, chapter and verse as honestly the words are too much too type out (either graphic violence or sex descriptions). But it is all in the Bible! I hope the bizarre, strange, weird Bible verses will be of encouragement and perhaps cause us to want to look deeper into Scripture than just a surface look at times. Wednesday-Weird-Bible verses now begins. 

Dan Kimball

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author of "Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus In The Mess of Organized Religion" and "They Like Jesus But Not The Church" . On staff at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, CA.
  • http://facebook.com Julie Perry Dao

    Dan your right sometimes it is necessary to understand the culture in which these verses are used..But I find it interesting how there are these kind of happenings occurring today….not everyone is nice you know….and it takes some extraordinary power not to ask God to bring down a curse on people who do not behave in a civilized manner…oh how I could tell stories…

  • http://profile.typepad.com/dankimball DanKimball

    Julie – wouldn’t it be something if it was normal if people could call out when someone is making fun of them and bears come and maul them? I guess it happens differently today, but glad that doesn’t happen at people’s ease whenever someone is mad at another and the bears come out.

  • http://ricknierwoo.blogspot.com Rick

    All scripture is God-breathed, right? Bring it!

  • http://johngruber.us John Gruber

    Looking forward to this.

  • http://chickchaotic.wordpress.com/ Elizabeth Chapin

    Along with the weird Bible verses, we have lots of weird interpretations. I’m glad you will be focusing on inspired weirdness…

  • http://www.WHAK.com Jim Daniel

    You can take a closer look at the bible with http://www.VirtualHolyBible.com

  • tt

    No, it does NOT take extraordinary power to NOT ask your imaginary friend to KILL CHILDREN for mocking your male-pattern baldness.
    It takes SANITY.

  • http://www.midnightryder.org Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

    OK, after reading this first one I had to put the feed in my reader list. I spend quite a bit of time looking in scripture (and slowly learning biblical Hebrew to reduce some of the ‘interpretiation issues’ – yes, I’m looking at you King James), and this looks like a fun way to add some smiles to my scripture studies :-)

  • http://www.midnightryder.org Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

    OK, after reading this first one I had to put the feed in my reader list. I spend quite a bit of time looking in scripture (and slowly learning biblical Hebrew to reduce some of the ‘interpretiation issues’ – yes, I’m looking at you King James), and this looks like a fun way to add some smiles to my scripture studies :-)

  • http://www.midnightryder.org Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

    (Uh, oops – sorry for the double post!)

  • Yos

    The problem with your “flaws are proof of inspiration” theory is that cutting off 200 foreskins WAS a positive and cheery thing at one time. It’s only now that it seems weird. And we have effectively cut out all the awkward parts through selectively quoting. Or in some cases completely avoiding certain passages that might negatively impact our modern theology.

  • Grant

    And the overriding problem of the faithful has reared it’s ugly head once again. If you take something on faith alone, then nothing can alter your belief in it. When confronted with these “flaws” you say, “well, that just reinforces my faith that this book was divinely inspired. I mean, an omnipotent, omniscient God will obviously put in some oddities amongst all the good stuff because he knows some skeptics won’t trust a “perfect” edition.” Oh, that’s right, you’ll claim God didn’t add the oddities they got stuck in by mistake by the “prophets” that were supposedly recording God’s works. You’ll claim God only revealed himself once, a couple thousand years ago to some illiterate, middle eastern tribesman in the hopes that they would reveal the truth to all the successive generations. To hell with all the millions that had come and gone before and the billions that would come and go after that had never heard of or had any reason to believe in the truthfulness of a book that is so obviously written by man it makes a person blush to tell a small child that it is word of God, let alone a grown adult. And you have the audacity to tell me that I’m supposed to believe this book rather than the thousands of years of other knowledge that we have garnered?
    You want to believe there’s a God, fine. But don’t insult others and yourself by claiming that these manmade books are anything more than just that.

  • Dan

    Hi Grant!
    Thank you so much for your comment. I do appreciate you taking the time to share your thinking here.
    When you wrote: “If you take something on faith alone, then nothing can alter your belief in it. When confronted with these “flaws” you say, “well, that just reinforces my faith that this book was divinely inspired.”
    One of my major motivations of doing these Weird Bible Verses is not at all to simply dismiss things and say that we just have to accept the weird and they back up my faith. It is to try and bring some rational thinking and biblical hermenuetics to look at what do these things mean? What was happening culturally at the time? Who wrote them and to whom were they written? — When you start looking more deeply into the whole narrative of the Bible and culture etc. it helps then understanding many of these verses more. It was a whole different culture back at the times when a lot of the Scripture was written, so that is such an important part of things.
    With your comments about it being hard to believe that adults today believe in the Bible as being inspired, I do understand what you are saying as I thought the same and do understand why you are saying that. I wish we could be talking in person and not just via the comment section of a blog. But there are rationale thinking intelligent people who believe the Bible was inspired. C.S Lewis, JRR Tolkien (who obviously even studied mythical literature and didn’t see the Bible as being human written myths). Kevin Kelly (the founder of Wired Magazine), Francis Collins, from the human genome project — and so many more. So there are reasons people like those do have faith. But again, I do understand what you are saying and I so appreciate you taking the time to comment here.

  • Grant

    I appreciate your reply Dan and I didn’t mean to come off as churlish as I fear I have. Believe me I do know that rational intelligent people believe in the the Bible and other scripture. I would surely consider you one of them. However, that doesn’t make it any easier for me to understand.
    When you write: “It is to try and bring some rational thinking and biblical hermenuetics to look at what do these things mean? What was happening culturally at the time? Who wrote them and to whom were they written? — When you start looking more deeply into the whole narrative of the Bible and culture etc. it helps then understanding many of these verses more. It was a whole different culture back at the times when a lot of the Scripture was written, so that is such an important part of things.”
    Doesn’t this just prove my thesis that these are manmade books that have been elevated beyond their worth? I see these oddities as proof of having been written by primitive man. Before many important philosophers and scientific discoveries. I see them as attempts to explain events that are taking place but doing it without the required knowledge to do so. It is, in essence, one of man’s first attempt at public policy.
    Believe me it was not my intent to belittle you. But I truly have difficulty believing that rational, intelligent people can tell the story of Noah’s Ark(or any other Biblical miracle for that matter) with a straight face and actually believe in it’s literal truth(and I think that things get rather slippery when you begin admitting that miracles didn’t really happen, or that certain passages are merely symbolic). I think too much of human intelligence. I know that sounds condescending but I don’t mean it that way. It’s more or less and attempt to admit that, no matter what, I don’t think I could ever understand your belief in God anymore than perhaps you could understand my non-belief. That being said, I will say that I believe that people are so desirous for meaning in life that they are willing to ignore their natural(God-given if you must) skepticism in favor of a story that accomplishes this. Maybe I’m way off base with that but it’s the only explanation I can come up with that will allow me to reconcile the intelligence that many people of faith demonstrate on a daily basis with, what seems to me, ignorantly perhaps, to be their idealistic, unabashed, head first dive into the wild world of religious dogma.
    I’m probably rambling and am seemingly all over the place. I will agree with you that this is a conversation better had in person. I’ll be checking back on your blog now and then to see if you might be able to finally break through my hard head and enlighten me as to why people believe. I hope you succeed because I’ve long been looking for an answer that satisfies my cynicism. I’ll be rooting for you because I’m always up for having a greater understanding of my fellow human beings.
    On another note, although we we may never agree on the existence of a god or God. But, after reading your profile on this site, I am sure we have common ground on which to firmly stand: Go Rams! I too am a Colorado State Grad.

  • http://petersonchina.blogspot.com Matt and Heather Peterson

    Hey Dan,
    Cool site man and I love the idea of posting about the weird verses of the Bible. Keep up the good work.

  • jim

    This is awesome! I can’t tell you how many times people ask me about these verses and therefore count the whole bible as trash. Most get stuck on Noah’s ark and others on creation but the ones I find seeking read a little and ask things like what did Jesus mean by “Let the dead bury the dead!”
    Thanks again and keep up spreading his word