Why the Bible Is Loved or Hated
ANY book that has had such a profound impact on history, art, language and ideas cannot fail to command respect. A book people have been willing to die for because they persisted in translating and distributing it is certainly worth looking into.
The very fact that the Bible is not only loved but also hated recommends it as a book that is different. Many English-speaking people love Shakespeare, many Germans love Goethe, and many Spanish-speaking people enjoy reading Cervantes. But the literary works of these authors do not arouse hatred; people do not die for reading Shakespeare, Goethe or Cervantes. Governments do not pass laws, and religious authorities do not publish bulls or decrees, against the books written by such authors, nor, for that matter, against such religious books as the Vedas or the Koran. So why has the Bible aroused such strong feelings—for and against—over a period of centuries?
Why a Hated Book
Napoleon was right when he stated that the Bible has “power that conquers all that oppose it.” Its very existence today, in spite of all the efforts put forth to destroy it, is a miracle.
The Bible itself says: “The Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strikes through . . . to the innermost intimacies of a man’s being: it examines the very thoughts and motives of a man’s heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, Phillips) Yes, “the Word that God speaks,” and that is recorded in the Bible, is alive. It irresistibly moves toward fulfillment of all that God has foretold. As it does so, it deeply affects the lives of men and women, moving many to put loyalty to God above all else. That is why so many political dictators and totalitarian regimes hate it, ban it and persecute those who live by it.
Religious leaders of the Catholic and some Orthodox Churches have also strongly opposed distribution of the Bible, endeavoring to suppress the reading of it in the common languages. Why? Because people who have read the Word of God have been set free from God-dishonoring traditions and dogmas that are nowhere to be found in the Bible and that are contrary to its teachings.
Do Not Misjudge the Bible
Do not make the mistake of judging the Bible according to those who quote it. Speaking to the faithless religious leaders of his day, Jesus stated: “You have made God’s word null and void by means of your tradition. Hypocrites! It was you Isaiah meant when he so rightly prophesied: This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless; the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.”—Matthew 15:6-9, Jerusalem Bible.
Today the ecclesiastics of Christendom still pay lip service to the Bible, such as the Catholic Church’s newfound enthusiasm for fresh Bible translations and its relatively recent authorization granted to Catholics to read the Bible. But the Church still teaches doctrines based on traditions that make “God’s word null and void.”
Protestants still like to claim that the Bible is the “very basis” of their religion, but they also believe many doctrines that are not found in the Bible. Moreover, a great number of their ministers consider large portions of the Bible to be mythical, and millions of Protestants—including some clergymen—have thrown overboard the high moral standards of the Bible.
Similarly, it is impossible to judge the Bible by the way Catholics and Protestants have acted over the centuries. They have both, at times, used inquisitorial methods against each other, and they have shed each other’s blood in religious wars. The violence in Ireland today shows that such religions are not really Bible-based.—Compare Isaiah 2:4.
Discover What the Bible Really Teaches
Both by their teachings and by their acts Catholicism and Protestantism have misrepresented the Bible. So an honest person needs to chase away any prejudices he may have and discover for himself what the Bible is all about and why it is such a remarkable book.
The Bible does not teach the Trinity doctrine. The Creator is not three persons in one god, but one Almighty God. (1 Corinthians 8:4, 6; Deuteronomy 6:4) His personal name is Jehovah, sometimes transcribed Yahweh. (Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18, King James Version; JB) Jesus is Jehovah’s Son and is subject to his headship. (2 John 3; 1 Corinthians 11:3) The Father, Jehovah, offers us everlasting life by means of his Son. (John 3:16) The choice set before us is life or death, not life or eternal torment. (Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:7, 8) The choice is real. (Deuteronomy 30:19) The Calvinistic doctrine whereby God predestines some to salvation and others to damnation dishonors the God of patience and love.—2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 4:8-10.
Learn to Love God and His Word
The more you get to know what the Bible really teaches, the more you will come to love God and his Word. Not only will the Bible free you from false traditions and dogmas that may have turned you away from God, but it will open up before you undreamed-of new vistas—a glorious hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth under God’s rulership. That is what the “Lord’s Prayer” is all about, when it says: “May your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, Today’s English Version) When you learn what God has purposed for this earth and what generous arrangements he has made through his Son to enable you to share in his just new order, you will assuredly come to love God, rather than having a morbid fear of him.—Revelation 21:3-5; 1 John 4:16-19.
Likewise, your love for God’s Word will increase as you get to know the fine principles for a happy and purposeful life that are outlined in the Bible and that you can apply immediately. Your present existence will take on new meaning. Your whole life-style will be transformed, if only because you will no longer be living for yourself and according to your own standards. (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; Colossians 3:9, 10) The superior wisdom of God’s Word will protect you and teach you “the entire course of what is good,” “all paths that lead to happiness.”—Proverbs 2:1-9, New World Translation; JB.
But first, you will need help in getting better acquainted with the Bible. Why not accept help from Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have proved themselves to be true champions of the Bible? They have avoided the two extremes: modernistic faithlessness that has cast doubt on the Bible, and fundamentalism that has estranged many thinking people from the Bible through its overliteral interpretation of the Scriptures. For a start, we suggest that you ask one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the publishers of this magazine, to supply you with the book Is the Bible Really the Word of God? Our desire is to help you to answer that question for yourself.—1 Thessalonians 2:13.
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The Bible can open up to you the grand prospect of eternal life on a paradise earth under God’s rulership
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Applying Bible principles can give new meaning to your life now