I have been called many things. This week Steve Hays added yet another label: “Bible hater.”
The charge came in his article “Bowdlerizing the Bible” published at Triablogue.
This would be comical if it weren’t so sad.
I accept the plenary inspiration of scripture. I accept meticulous superintending divine providential activity as the primary means by which all these human writings were produced and recognized in a single canonical form called God’s authoritative Word which is uniquely authoritative for the community of faith.
So what’s the problem?
The problem, apparently, is that I interpret the texts differently than Mr. Hayes. And for that I get called a “Bible-hater”.
Let’s place this in context. Imagine two different critics who agree that Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage is the greatest of all American novels. However, one critic reads the text’s portrayal of Henry Fleming, the central protagonist, ironically while the other critic reads the narrative straight with no irony intended.
Now imagine if the critic who reads the text straight retorted that the critic who reads the text ironically hates the novel.
You’d think he was crazy. The critic said he believes it is the greatest of all American novels, so how could he hate it? True he reads Crane as intending irony, but since when does an ironic reading of a text constitute a hatred of that text?
That’s how comical Hays’ charge is. But we’re not talking merely about an American novel here. We’re talking about the Bible. And that’s why this silly charge moves from the comical to the sad.