Picking & Choosing from the Bible (Part 1)

Ask any atheist what their biggest complaint is regarding “moderate” or “casual” Christians, and I can pretty much guarantee the answer you’ll get:

“They feel like they can pick and choose what they want to believe. They accept some parts of the Bible and reject others, just depending on whatever suits them”.

Which is true, of course. There is absolutely nothing in that statement that I disagree with. But there are a couple of reasons you will never, ever find me criticizing Christians in this way.

The first is that even though the statement is technically true, it completely misplaces the blame. The problem is not with the believers who “pick and choose”; the problem is with a holy book which is so convoluted, so ambiguous, and so internally-contradictory, it’s simply impossible not to pick and choose which tenets to believe and which orders to obey.

Is it good or bad to be wealthy? Should you judge others or judge not? Are you supposed to honor your parents, or hate them and turn against them? Is salvation achieved by faith alone, or is faith without works dead?

When the Bible simultaneously teaches mutually contradictory concepts on fundamental issues of belief, what is a believer to do other than “pick and choose”?

Yet implicit in such criticism of “moderate” Christians is the unspoken assumption that they could somehow believe differently, and somehow find a way to believe in ALL of the Bible with 100% conviction. Yet not only is such an assumption incorrect, any attempt to criticize Christians in such a way actually gives the Bible itself FAR more credit than it deserves.