Submitted: to Syracuse Post Standard, December
Note: The original Billy Graham piece that this article refers to can be read: here.
To the editor:
Rev. Billy Graham, in his daily column appearing in the December 9 Post Standard, responds to a reader who asks which parts of the Bible are still valid. Predictably, Rev. Graham responds that “no part of the Bible is out of date,” “the Bible is God’s word,” and it’s “just as relevant to us today as it was many centuries ago.”
Over the years, many pages have been written detailing the contradictions, absurdities, intolerance and cruelty found in the Bible. Addressing the issue of relevance, let’s take a look at the books of Exodus and Leviticus. In addition to finely detailing instructions for the ritualistic sacrifice of animals, these books prescribe that the punishment for the following acts is death: homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, adultery, blasphemy, witchcraft and general disobedience to God. You and I might disagree with some of these actions, but death? Really? Even Rev. Graham doesn’t buy the Biblical line, since I have not heard him call for the death penalty for athletes who earn their living on the football field each Sunday.
If people would actually read the Bible instead of depending on preachers to select only certain verses, I believe they would be able to answer for themselves the question of relevance.
Bible’s contradictions less salient than message
To the Editor:
Letter-writer Cliff Crain refers to Billy Graham’s column saying no part of the Bible was out of date. Crain is astonished at how the Bible says people should be put to death for violating God’s will. He denounces people who listen to preachers who “select only certain verses” instead of reading the Bible themselves.
Most of the people who attend a service do read the Bible on their own. According to Crain’s reasoning, preachers should only do three things: not cite the bible, cite passages that don’t relate to their message, or cite the entire Bible.
Maybe if he had listened to these preachers, he’d know that nobody perishes for sinning. They perish from life in Heaven.
As for the contradictions in the Bible, how can you expect a book of that size and with numerous contributors to be entirely uniform? Indeed, there are apparent contradictions. But many could be cleared up simply by looking at the context and/or more than one interpretation.
As for the “absurdities, intolerance, and cruelty” in the Bible?—it’s quite ethnocentric to judge the actions of people 2,000 years ago by this society’s standards. Take a long look at the society that existed back then, especially the importance placed on following God’s word and doing His will. They had a few things right.
Maybe the actual words and examples in the Bible aren’t all entirely relevant today. But the message certainly is.