I have heard people acronym that the B.I.B.L.E. stands for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” But that description bothers me for a number of reasons.
First, is it really basic? If it is so basic, why do we have so much trouble understanding it? Why do we so often disagree on a fundamental level about what it says or what we should do about it? The Bible is actually a very complicated library of books that tells stories to get its point across. It is not basic.
Second, is it really written as instructions? If it was an instruction book, then it is poorly written. I can’t find the section about marriage or parenting, and there are lots of issues that we face today that are not in the book. The Bible seems to set principles and perspectives, but I do not see clear instructions anywhere, except for how to slaughter sheep and sprinkle their blood.
Third, when is the last time you read instructions? When you bought your last appliance, did you look at the instruction book? Did you even keep the book? I don’t like the idea of the Bible as instruction book because it makes it sound like a necessary but boring thing that you only turn to when you are in desperate need.
Fourth, is the end of the story that we are leaving Earth? The book itself says that heaven is not the end-game. We return to this world. To talk about the Bible as instructions before leaving earth is to ignore what the Bible says is going to happen. This is, by the way, something that Christians have believed and said for a while now.
This is so important to think about, because how you view the Bible must impact how you approach or read the Bible. If it is a rule book, then you will read it looking for rules. If it is an instruction book, you will only turn to it as a last resort.
And however you view the Bible must be true to the actual format of the Bible. Your perspective needs to account for this rich and diverse set of stories, or else it cannot be true to the book.