Should the Bible always be easy to understand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
There are two people that are exactly opposite in their outlooks. These will be your usual run of the mill atheist who thinks everything in the Bible is a bunch of nonsense. On the opposite side is your average fundamentalist Christian who thinks everything in the Bible is true. These two have something in common normally.
They both think that if the Bible is the Word of God, it will be clear.
And clear, what does that mean? Well, it means that they as a modern Western 21st century reader should understand the text. One difference might be the latter group thinks all you need is the Holy Spirit and you can understand the text.
Sadly, this idea is never really questioned. An interesting point about this is that this is not a historical objection to Christianity. It’s a theological objection. Yes. Even an atheist has a theology. If you have some ideas about what God should be like if He exists, you have a theology.
Why should this be true? Isn’t it rather arrogant of us to think that the God of the universe should write a book thousands of years ago that would be geared directly towards our time? Shouldn’t it be understandable more by the people of the very time reading it?
But isn’t God supposed to transcend cultures? Isn’t His truth for all people?
Yes. Of course. However, not all cultures are identical nor will they be. All cultures have a different idea of what clear is. What is clear to us might not be clear to a 16th century Japanese person.
If we look at the Bible, even Jesus speaking in His own time was not clear to His contemporaries. In 1 Peter, we’re told that angels longed to understand what was being prophesied in the Bible. The prophets themselves did not know for certain what it was that they were saying would happen. They were just the messengers.
Why would God do things this way? Why would He not make it easy?
Maybe because easy isn’t the goal. God doesn’t want us to treat Him like an answer to a trivia game. God wants us to treat Him as a person that is worth knowing. Consider you’re walking down the street as a single person and you think you see the most awesome person of the opposite sex. If you really want that person, you know what you will do? You will work to pursue them and win their heart and it might not be easy, but if you want the prize, you will do it.
Job speaks about wisdom and when it does, it starts with talking about a place where precious metals like silver are mined. If you want those metals, you have to work hard for them. Most anything we really want in life we have to work for. If you want to be physically fit, you have to work out at a gym. If you want to be a scholar, you have to work to get a Ph.D. If you want to be even good at a video game, you have to work really hard at it.
If something is easy to come by, it’s nothing really worthwhile for the most part. Even in marriage, if a man wants to have a “lucky” evening with his wife, he knows he has to put forward effort on his part, which might be washing the dishes or cleaning a toilet or anything else. If he values the prize, he will do the work.
Often, it’s as if atheists think God just wants to convince them of His existence, but that’s treating Him like a trivia game. If that’s not His goal, it’s not a surprise that He doesn’t just suddenly appear before people. I think He’s much more like many of us who want to be wanted. We want someone to want us because of who we are. No one likes to feel used.
If we want to understand Scripture then, we might just have to work on it. That’s not the case for everything in Scripture. Some messages I think are simple. Not all are. Many of them have several complexities to them that we don’t immediately grasp. If we care about truth, we will do the work.
If an atheist thinks that God should be clear, it’s up to them to back that. God never encourages laziness in Scripture. It’s up to them to show why He would outside of Scripture.