We live in “an age of rampant ignorance.” All of us are aware of the amount of Biblical illiteracy in our society these days. Most people do not read the Bible and know very little about what the Bible teaches. When people read the Bible, they are selective in their reading. They read a verse here and there; read a familiar chapter or a popular book of the Bible and that becomes the extent of their biblical knowledge.
The Bible is a library of books. Through its sixty-six books, the reader learns how God has revealed himself through the history of Israel and through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Through human writers, God speaks and teaches readers of the Bible his plan for the redemption of all human beings.
Whenever a person reads the Bible with an open heart, when he or she approaches the Bible with a desire to learn and understand, God reveals himself to the diligent reader. Bible reading provides a way for the reader to discover and understand the personality, the ways, and the plan of God for the world and for those who read.
Enter Chris Curry.
Chris Curry, a student at San Jose State University, was trying to understand God, the church and Christianity, so he decided to read the Bible. However, instead of reading the whole Bible as a book which tells of God’s love and concern for the men and women he created, with a storyline that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation, he chose to read only the book of Leviticus.
It is impossible for anyone to know the God of the Bible by just reading Leviticus. I hope that, by reading Leviticus, Chris discovered that God is a holy God and that the strange laws and requirements in Leviticus which he ridiculed, are part of God’s call to Israel to become a holy people, a people separated from the strange and unwholesome practices of its neighbor.
By reading only Leviticus, Chris never discovered that the God of the Bible is a God who cares for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. He never discovered that the God of the Bible is the giver of all good gifts, a God who provides instructions to keep people from harmful acts and thoughts, who is true to his promises to forgive those who truly seek forgiveness, a God who is just and fair.
By reading only Leviticus, Chris never discovered that the God of the Bible is a God who suffers with those who suffer, who weeps for sinful nations, and who agonizes because of the rebellion of his people. Chris never discovered that the God of the Bible is a gracious God, merciful, slow to get angry, and full of kindness.
By reading only Leviticus, he never read God’s loving words to a sinful people: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called him, the more he rebelled against me. How can I give you up, Ephraim? My heart cries out within me, how I long to help you” (Hosea 11:1-2, 8).
Because Chris stopped reading the Bible in Leviticus, he came to the conclusion that the God of the Bible is an evil God. But his approach to knowing God is flawed, as Chris himself recognized. He wrote:
A bit of a confession, though: I have not read the entire Bible. I have read the entire book of Leviticus, and it is this that I base my appraisal of the entire scripture’s current relevance.
I also realize that using one chapter in the Bible to condemn all religion is quite a jump, but Leviticus is a choice example from an age of rampant ignorance. It is to this age that the pillars of a vast majority of the world’s religions date.
Chris speaks of the Biblical period as “an age of rampant ignorance.” However, what his attempt at understanding God reveals is rampant ignorance about God’s purpose for the world and God’s plan for his life. By reading only Leviticus, Chris never read of God’s loving concern for him and never heard the voice of God calling him to a life of faith and obedience. Maybe a paraphrase of the Hosea’s text quoted above will show God’s concern for Chris:
“When Chris was a child, I loved him, and while he was reading Leviticus, I called him. But the more I called him, the more he rebelled against me. How can I give you up, Chris? My heart cries out within me, how I long to help you” (Hosea 11:1-2, 8).
Maybe what Chris Curry needs is to read a little bit more of the Bible. Why stop with Leviticus? Begin with Genesis and think about man and woman being created in the image and likeness of their Creator. Then linger a little in Genesis 2 and 3 and reflect on how ingratitude and human rebellion affected their relationship with the Creator. Then, read all the things God did to restore that relationship. And Chris, when you finish reading Revelation, you also will be amazed at the God of the Bible.
In the end, however, I guess Chris Curry and our politicians have a lot in common:
Chris never read the Bible and came to the conclusion that God is not good. The politicians in Washington never read the massive economic stimulus bill and came to the conclusion that it was good.
Talk about ignorance!
Tags: Biblical Illiteracy, Leviticus
>Chris is clearly missing the forrest for the trees because even Leviticus reveals the heart of God in all those rituals he casually dismisses as arcane and unknowable.Placing them in context of the laws given to Moses, the sacrificial system is perhaps the greatest act of mercy and love showed by God (although PETA may disagree). God could have simply given the Israelites the law defining moral conduct and told them, “live by this Law” and sent them on their way, even if He knew that they would fall VERY short.But He gave them a way to avoid total condemnation—a means of atoning for their shortcomings! He did not want them to remain defiled in their sin, and thus forced them to confront it in ceremonies that would periodically make-them-right in the sight of God individually and as a nation. (And in that way, point them towards the greatest sacrifice of all, His Son).That’s why Jews look forward to a restoration of the Temple and return to the offerings. Not because they are a bloody cult-like people, but because they were a great gift from God declaring mercy and forgiveness!
>Nate,I agree with you. Chris read the book of Leviticus but he missed the real meaning of Leviticus. This is one of the reasons people do not understand the Bible: They fail to understand the real significance of the symbols and the rituals mentioned in the Bible.Once again, thank you for your comment.Claude Mariottini
>To echo the last two comments, Chris should read Leviticus again. It has God’s concern for the poor, love, forgiveness, etc.
>James,You are right. There are many laws in Leviticus that are humanitarian and express God’s love for people and his concern for reconciliation.What amazes me is that a person may read Leviticus and never learn the things you mentioned in your comments.Claude Mariottini
>I have heard that Rob Bell built his megachurch by preaching carefully through the book of Leviticus. (His use of real goats to help illustrate Lev. 16 is well known.)
>Doug,If this is true, then Bell is a preacher after my own heart. Where can you find a preacher these days who will preach through Leviticus?I believe if a preacher preaches expository sermons, Leviticus can be a source of great sermons.Claude Mariottini
>” Man, made in the image of God ” is often misleading. This refers to the image of God whilst he set foot on this earth. God’s mind, for instance, is huge enough to be aware not only of every action of every mind on this planet, but is also aware of the action of every subatomic particle extending across the entire universe, and does this to the extent ranging from what mankind calls the beginning of time to the end of time.This alone adds one more dimension to his mind in comparison to mans mind, for his mind extends across time. He created this reality with its entirety in view, meaning ALL time is included.But talking about ignorance, most people do not extend their minds beyond the pages of the bible. Thus these minds remain limited to the scope of the human mind, and so even if ” saved “, they still remain within the boundaries of mere human intellect for the eternity of the never ending life that they have been given.This is somewhat like being left behind. Others, who focused upon truth, rather than stop at the beliefs that they had learnt through the bible, are those who chose to walk Jesus Christ’s path of truth. This path leads you higher and higher thus expanding your mind across time thus bringing you closer and closer to the massive multidimensional mind of Jesus Christ. It is a whole new kind of consciousness. It’s like being born again in a whole new form.Just getting a vague understanding of what it is like for your mind to begin to extend across time, as does the mind of Jesus Christ, you first become exposed to viewing this 4 dimensional consciousness from new angles everyday, and this goes on for many many years. Only then do you begin to be able to put the pieces together. But once you do, you take off like a rocket and those previous many years seem like nothing but the blink of an eye, now that your mind too extends across all time.But the sad news is that most people did not wish to venture beyond beliefs, and so there was no way for them to surpass even the truths that are confined to the present time, never mind them being willing to extend the mind to see the truth that extends across all time.On the whole, only 144000 people could be convinced that a mind that for eternity grows bigger and bigger and more and more complex, thus a forever learning and expanding mind, is far better than one that remains limited to the scale of human intellect for an eternity. All this happened due to them not being willing to walk Christ’s path of truth, since they chose to stop at beliefs. The 144000 focused their minds upon nothing but truth and thus could not be deceived by Satan, and thus he could not hold them back.But not to worry. There is a backup plan available for those who could not rise into the heavens directly from this world. I could inform you of its details, but these are truths of grand scale and thus are of no interest to you. This is not an insult. This is just the way it is since such truths are beyond belief.