What Ben Affleck finds when he actually reads the Bible as an adult.
Ben Affleck never read the Bible as a child.
So, as an adult he expected it to be loaded with fire and brimstone…
Ripe with weeping and gnashing teeth.
Naturally this notion was only reinforced as he encountered one angry, hateful person after another who claimed to represent all Christians.
This stereotype held until he actually read the Bible.
In fact, this is what he said about reading the Gospel According to Matthew in an August 2008 Oprah magazine:
Reading the Bible disabused me of any sense that a hateful person could represent this faith. The book is beautiful and exquisitely written–but it is characterized by one quality that colors every page: love.
He went on to say that reading the Bible made it harder for him to accept the “damaging and small minded beliefs” that people promote in the name of Christian values.
I wonder if he had Fred Phelps in mind when he said that.
Where I’m Going with This
Often on this blog I here non-believers write the Bible off as a collection of hallucinogenic babbling from the mental fringe.
Indeed in my own experience as a non-believer I made outlandish claims about the perversity of the Bible…without ever reading it…so I’m inclined to believe neither have they.
At least not carefully.
Yet honest people like Richard Dawkins read the OT and shake their head in disbelief at what they deem a volatile, childish tyrant.
What gives? The New Testament gives.
Sinclair Ferguson writes, “You cannot open the pages of the New Testament without realizing that one of the things that makes it so ‘new’, in every way, is that here men and women call God ‘Father.’”
This conviction of intimacy with the creator of the universe lies at the heart of our faith. And it suggest we humbly read the Bible in it’s entirety…
And we understand the OT through the lens of Christ.
Reading Matthew obviously had an impact on Ben Affleck. But I don’t know if Ben Affleck is a true believer.
To be sure, he anticipates the question in the article when he says he considers his religious beliefs private matters.
But he nonetheless is moved by it. Perhaps no more than a deep interest in social justice as indicated by his involvement in genocide recovery.
But what about you: What was your first encounter with the Bible like? With the New Testament? With a particular Gospel?
Did you view it as a majestic piece of literature that can stand on it’s own feet [as I once did during a “Bible as Literature” course]?
Or were you appalled by what you read?
Or did you tear your clothes in grief like Josiah who said, “For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us”?
I look forward to your thoughts.