Ben Affleck on the Bible

This post was written by Demian Farnworth, who authors Fallen and Flawed, at the beginning of this month. I have re-posted it here in its entirety with his permission. Please head to his site to leave comments.

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.

Your Turn

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”?

What'd you think? 

3 Response to "Ben Affleck on the Bible"

  • Anonymous Says:

    I grew up hearing the scriptures, but I didn't pay any attention until recently to the amazing words found inside its pages. I find direction for every situation in my life through the Bible. Interesting posts!

  • Matt @ The Church of No People Says:

    Never heard about that interview. Awesome stuff. My first real connection with scripture was a college New Testament class with a great professor. Sure, I was a Christian, but really studying the gospel of John was just beautiful.

  • Tracy Says:

    I hadn't heard about the Ben Affleck thing either. I appreciate hearing about it and your comments here.

    As to your question about my 1st encounter with scripture, I grew up hearing the scriptures and when I was in what we called "Jr High" in those days, some terrible things started happening in my life. I found that the Psalms were somewhere I could read where another person verbalized feelings so much like my own, a place where I connected, a source of inspiration and strength.