This is a helpful acronym! Unfortunately it is unpronounceable. I just completed a series entitled, “What is the Bible?” Protestants today need to put the Bible in its proper context in order for it to be the life blood of our Christian Faith. DPADTUGD is an acronym that sums up my sermon series.
The Bible is a Library. All good libraries have a variety of books on a variety of topics and not all the books will say the same thing regarding a given topic. Matter of fact some books will be critical of other books and authors who see the topic from a different vantage point. We all know this is true. When researching a topic, it is best to get the opinions of a variety of authors expressing viewpoints that may not agree with one another. This type of info creates a broad perspective in which to form your opinion.
The Bible is such a library. Different People At Different Times Understand God Differently! DPADTUGD! When the Bible is understood as a collection of poems, stories, myths, confessions, and letters, written over a vast period of time by vastly different people who understand things such as God, life, heaven and hell, or salvation from their particular vantage point, you understand that the Bible is a library. This for me was the beginning of making sense of the Bible and its internal contradictions. Any serious study of the Bible will pick out the evolution of religion thinking within our scripture. Fundamental things to religion such as “sacrificing of animals”, changes as we move within the Hebrew Scriptures to the New Testament.
Moses is commanded by God to teach the ins and outs of sacrificing. If you read Leviticus chapters 1-7, you will get detailed information on how, what, and when to sacrifice animals. Its Animal Sacrifice 101, you might say. But the prophets such as Amos or Hosea question the practice.
Amos 5:21-22 Amos speaking on behalf of God, says, “I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon.”
Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Even the Psalms condemn the practice,
Psalms 40:6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
Psalm 51:15-19 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Whoever wrote Psalm 40, never heard the words of God spoken to Moses. What do you mean, “you have not required”, that’s what Leviticus is all about. Required sacrifice!
Jesus joins the prophetic rejection of sacrifices to, read Mark 12:28-34!
Different people at different times understood God differently and we have it all at one place called the Bible! We are fortunate to have this library. For me it frees me to use my experience, my tradition, scripture and reason to articulate a relevant and true faith for myself.
The Bible can be a companion on our journey of developing faith. It may not have all the answers we need, but it core teaching expressed in the life of Jesus, is that we can love as God loves. This is very clear in the passage from 1 Corinthians 13, “faith, hope, and love abide these three but the greatest of these is love.” God’s Love. What’s vitally important is that Paul introduces this passage on love, with the instruction that Paul will teach the Corinthians a new WAY to be, matter of fact the MOST excellent way to be. The way of love.
1 Corinthians 12:31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
Paul believes the Corinthians can love as God loves, and I would venture he thinks you can do the same!
Paul’s not alone. Jesus does too. When you read the Greek Text of Jesus teaching about the greatest commandments, “to love God and love Neighbor”, the Bible writer uses the Greek word, AGAPE! How about that. We are challenged to love as God loves. This for me is the center of the Bible, which in turn needs to be the center of our lives.
We can AGAPE. This for me is the central theme that the Bible brings to my life and experiences. Agape needs to be the center of all our discussion on God, heaven/hell, welfare, immigration, our national debt, our political discourse, everything.
You too can AGAPE, for the Bible tells me so, BUT Different People Might Disagree With Me… DPMDWM.