Because the bible is contrary, a Christian not only may, but must choose which parts to believe and which parts to reject. Those decisions will always reflect the Christian’s personality, predilections and proclivities.
It’s an arrogant syncretism of life and religion that we call Self Projection as God (SPAG). I published an article about it here a few weeks ago.
It’s a simple and obvious concept, but not always readily understood. One common misunderstanding (or maybe a regular misrepresentation) of SPAG is that it applies only to fundamentalist or ultraconservative Christians who attempt to harmonize the bible.
That’s not the case.
Faithfulness Is Meaningless
In some sense, SPAG depends on an incoherent bible. A true and cogent religious revelation would make faithfulness possible. Lacking one, faithfulness is a meaningless term and the Christian, to be a Christian, must construct a god and define faithfulness to it.
All Christianity is Self-Projection as God That’s the point of the confusion: Self Projection as God is necessary because the bible is unintelligible and false, but it doesn’t depend on the Christian’s effort to harmonize the bible. It only depends on the Christian’s decision to rationalize the bible.
Once that decision has been made, the methods of rationalizing the incoherency will vary just as the SPAGs’ contents will vary. They’ll vary with individual Christians, but they’re all Self Projections as God.
Remember that Christians agree only that some parts of the bible don’t count. They don’t agree what those parts are nor do they agree on what to do with those parts. All Christians won’t proceed in the same manner, but they will each proceed with the same purpose: to rationalize the bible in a way that’s personally pleasing.
Some Christians do that by attempting a biblical harmony. Most do not.
No Harmony Necessary
Of course, the fundamentalists’ preferences in harmonizing the bible are SPAGs. Some fundies try to harmonize the bible around the idea that God wants to save all humans. Others try to harmonize it around the idea that God arbitrarily saves some and condemns others. The bible says both, so it’s “harmonized” according to which sort of god a particular fundamentalist prefers.
But why is that different from the liberal Christian who SPAGs a universalist god and simply doesn’t believe the verses about hell and has no interest in harmonizing them?
How are either the fundy or the liberal unlike the moderate Christian that declares god chooses for salvation those he “foresaw” accepting his offer of salvation and explains away opposing verses with clever hermeneutics or nifty biblical criticisms?
Aren’t they all doing exactly the same thing—choosing which parts of the bible to embrace and how to deal with pieces that don’t fit?
If they’re not, why do they each have proof texts?
The difference between fundies and liberals and every Christian on the continuum between them isn’t the fact of SPAG. The difference is in the verses they choose to SPAG and what they do with the verses that don’t fit their SPAGs—whether forcing the pieces in (fundies), throwing the pieces away (liberals), or trimming the pieces to shape (moderates).
SPAG doesn’t depend on the Christian denying that the bible is rife with contraries and contradictions, but only upon her or his unwillingness to reject the bible and its (SPAGged) god because of that fact.
Resurrection Not Required
Let’s consider the most liberal thinking Christians among the confessing populace, the ones that not only accept and even embrace the errors, but also reject the physical and historical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It would be gratuitous to name the bible verses and passages that say otherwise — from the legends of empty tombs, through claims of physical manifestations of the risen Jesus like the famous tale of Doubting Thomas, to Paul’s declaration that if Christ is not risen, then Christians are the most pitiable of all humans — yet the liberal Christian rejects the physical resurrection, choosing instead to believe a spiritual resurrection, a metaphor of social liberation, or simply no resurrection at all.
Still, that Christian (rejecting what the majority of Christians declares to be the central doctrine of faith) remains a Christian and does not reject the tales of Jesus as he or she rejects the tales of Zeus or Thor or Allah.
The resurrection-denying Christian still embraces as ultimately true both the bible and the god that it reveals. As does every other Christian, she or he does so precisely according to his or her own needs and preferences.
All Christianity is Self-Projection as God.