Archive for category Bible

It’s confirmed: the world will end in a little over one year!

That’s right. Through meticulous historical research, rigorous scientific study and the application of advanced mathematical concepts, the academics over at Harold Camping’s think-tank have determined the precise date the world will end.  And it’s right around the corner.

Since we know the year the Earth was created, and using surprisingly simple and obvious formulas, it can be clearly  seen that earth’s last day will be Wednesday, October 21, 2011, just a little over one year away. Surprisingly this beats the conventional wisdom about the world’s end ( based on the otherwise accurate Mayan calendar) by over two months. But the predictions are very close. Coincidence? I think not.


11,013 BC—Creation. God created the world and man (Adam and Eve).

4990 BC—The flood of Noah’s day. All perished in a worldwide flood. Only Noah, his wife, and his 3 sons and their wives survived in the ark (6023 years from creation).

7 BC—The year Jesus Christ was born (11,006 years from creation).

33 AD—The year Jesus Christ was crucified and the church age began (11,045 years from creation; 5023 calendar years from the flood).

1988 AD—This year ended the church age and began the great tribulation period of 23 years (13,000 years from creation).

1994 AD—On September 7th, the first 2300-day period of the great tribulation came to an end and the latter rain began, commencing God’s plan to save a great multitude of people outside of the churches (13,006 years from creation).

2011 AD—On May 21st, Judgment Day will begin and the rapture (the taking up into heaven of God’s elect people) will occur at the end of the 23-year great tribulation. On October 21st, the world will be destroyed by fire (7000 years from the flood; 13,023 years from creation).

This body of evidence is conclusive and undeniable. Of course there will be skeptics and others quite  happy with their heads in the sand.   Some have already spread nasty rumors that these same scholars claimed that Jesus would return on September 6, 1994.  But we all know that the Enemy is well versed in the use of lies and distortion.

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Which Jesus died on the Cross? (or the 7 things he might not have said)

I’ve long looked at the four Gospels as being complimentary to each other. One evangelist filling in the gaps that were, for whatever reason. left by another.  Recently,  I took a closer look at the differences between the four passion narratives and it no longer appears that this is the case.  Mark was the first Gospel to be written and the vast majority of scholars understand that Matthew and Luke both based their gospel largely on Mark’s.  But it is clear that Luke significantly changed Mark’s account.  It’s not like he just added to it, filling in the gaps, but he changed the story in such a way that, if they both didn’t  use Jesus’ name, you might think that he and Mark are talking about two different men.

Mark’s Jesus is quiet and if anything, despairing. He does not respond to those who taunt him, not even those (2?) crucified along side him. Before he dies he forlornly cries out to God, asking why he has been forsaken.

‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’

For the most part, Matthew’s depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion remains true to Mark’s account.

‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

Luke’s Jesus, on the other hand, is much more talkative and seems to be much more positive about and more in control of his circumstances. Jesus is taunted by only one of the two crucified and he assures the other one a place in paradise. He asks God to forgive his killers and does not cry out in despair as he does in Mark and Matthew. Instead he appears unafraid of death and offers his spirit to God .

‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’

And John’s Gospel does not mention any dialogue between Jesus and  the thieves. His Jesus does not cry in despair or vocally assign his spirit to God (though it is implied) nor does he ask forgiveness of his tormentors. Instead he concentrates on the future well being of his mother and that of an unnamed disciple. Most importantly, his last words seem to underscore the cosmic significance of his death ( or do they?).

‘It is finished.’

I’m not questioning the authenticity of any of these accounts. But what do we mean by authenticity? That the scriptures must be factual representations of actual events? If so, then how do we account for where they differ?  Did Jesus say all of these things (as the famous ” 7 things that Jesus said on the Cross” quiz would suggest)?  If so, then why are all of them not found together in at least one Gospel? If not, then why would one author (or later scribe) remove or add something to another’s  earlier account? I don’t think there is any way we can read these four accounts and not see that this is precisely what happened.  But what were their motives? What, if anything, do these observations mean to us? Is it a good thing or not that these changes in the text, though at times seemingly slight, may decidedly alter the way in which we perceive Christ, perhaps in ways that were never intended?

Does a devotion to biblical literalism, a zealous misunderstanding of Sola Scriptura, require that someone  ignore the obvious? If we can force ourselves to deny the scripturally obvious in order to comply with ‘orthodoxy’ then perhaps we can also force ourselves to deny (or overlook) the essence of scriptural truth.

Perhaps it is too late for us to cut to the chase , too difficult to critically edit the various Jesus movies that are playing  in each of our minds, where in each film Jesus is portrayed differently: the tough Christ, the loving Christ, the Christ who climbs on Rocks.  Angry Jesus, sad Jesus, suffering Jesus, baby Jesus, the Jesus who loves little children. Warrior Christ,  peaceful Christ, Buddha Christ, liberal Christ, Super Christ, American Christ.  Vindicator Jesus, savior Jesus, Jesus the blood sacrifice. Max von Sydow, Jeffrey Hunter or Jim Caveziel?  Jesus as man, as God or as the Son of God.   Which Jesus died for you?

There is an old Evangelical tee-shirt that mimics the Coca Cola logo and reads: “Jesus-The Real Thing”.  How certain can we be that our Jesus is “the real thing”? Or should we be so confident? Perhaps certainty is part of the problem.

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Which scriptura should I sola?

picture courtesy of Emergent

Probably the most famous example of someone tampering with the Christian scriptures is the so-called Johannine Comma:

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth:the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. (1 John 5: 7-8, NKJV)

The first line was later removed from most modern bible translations so that we typically find just the following:

For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. (John 5: 7-8, NIV)

According to notes in the NIV Study Bible the questionable line was added to the Latin Vulgate Bible and is not found in any Greek manuscript prior to the sixteenth century. The implication is that some scribe or scribes of the Roman Catholic church added it. Which they did, and for an obvious reason: this was the only line ever found in any Bible that directly points to the idea of a Triune God. The scripture was altered by Church authority to bolster a difficult-to-comprehend doctrine.

The reason this line was found in any Greek manuscripts after the 16th century was because Erasmus added it to later editions of his Greek New Testament, the first ever compiled. At first Erasmus didn’t include the Comma, as it wasn’t in any of the Greek texts he found, either. Under immense pressure from Church authorities he agreed to put the Comma “back in”.  Additionally, Erasmus couldn’t find complete Greek manuscripts for certain other scriptures (particularly Revelations) so in those cases he merely translated the Vulgate’s Latin “back” into Greek, errors and all.

(Remember that the New Testament scriptures were originally written in Greek  and it wasn’t until Pope Damasus ordered Jerome to produce a Rome-sanctioned Latin bible in the fourth century BCE that a single authoritative church-wide book ever existed.  But even Jerome’s earliest Vulgate (common) Bible didn’t have the Comma: it was added later.)

This is the kind of thing that many Protestants came to expect of the Roman Catholic Church, with the Magisterium’s disdain for Sola Scriptura. Except, as you can see with the above scriptural quotes, the King James (as well as the New King James) version of the Bible still include the Comma. And most modern Protestant versions of the Bible (with a few notable exceptions) rely upon Erasmus’ Greek New Testament, which is largely derived from the Vulgate. These collective works are known as  the Textus Receptus (a term bible scholars use to describe any Greek text that is not based on the best, oldest or most verifiable manuscripts but on Erasmus’ work instead.)

But scriptural manipulations by ‘orthodox’ authorities don’t end there. In John 5 there is the story of Jesus encountering the crippled man at the healing springs of Bethsaida. Apparently he has waited 38 years to be lowered into the water and be cured. Why so long? Well, he says, every time an opportunity arises, the water is no longer “stirred”. Which is a little confusing: what is this man talking about? What does he mean by ‘stirred’ waters. At some point someone took it upon himself to solve this mystery for us, even though he made it up in order to do so. You won’t find it in most Protestant bibles but you will find it in the trusty old (and New) King James:

For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
(John 5: 4, King James Version)

Even though many still love the King James (and it is easier on the ear – compare its version of Ecclesiastes with the competition’s) many more will concede that it has quite  a few issues.  But it is not the only bible that does.  Which, along with all the other textual changes and scribal errors (and there are many more), poses some serious challenges to anyone who believes that the Bible is the innerant, infallible Word of God, that must be taken literally in order for us to understand God and the universe.

Take the problem we have with 1 Timothy 3:16, which for most of the Church’s history (and in many bibles today) has read like this:

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.

But in the early 18th century bible scholar J.J. Wettstein, upon examining the Greek manuscript this verse derives from, found that one of the word’s had been changed to read “God” when it originally said something like “who”. This altered verse is one of the few, if not the only, explicit statements of Jesus’ divinity found in the Bible. The verse originally read more like this:

Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:

Who was revealed in flesh,
vindicated by the spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.

Which speaks more about the mystery of who Jesus was and not the absolute assertion that he was God. By pointing this out (among other questions about scriptural accuracy) Wettstein was shunned from his religious and academic community. And even though this information has been well known for nearly 300 years many bible publishers refuse to make the necessary changes. What type of faith do we have when we need to fall back upon spurious scripture for our religious security?

It seems to me that, all affirmations of Sola Scriptura aside, Protestants have more devotion to non-biblical “tradition” than they would like to believe.  I mean, sola which scriptura, for Pete(r)’s sake?

(Thanks to Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” as the source for most of the above material.)

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Dueling Scriptures

There was a soft, yet urgent tapping at the door.

“You gotta help me, doc.” His voice was a raspy whisper.  It was still dark out.

“What is it? What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I’ve been hit. I think it’s bad.”

I didn’t bother to ask him why he wasn’t at the local emergency room.  I knew why: he wasn’t the first one to come here with questionable wounds. Quickly, I ushered him to my examining room at the back of the house. I told him to take off his coat and lie back on the table while I washed up.

The lower part of his shirt was all bloody and sticking to his skin. I picked up some bandage scissors and gently cut the fabric away. Soon I could see the wound. It was immediately clear what this man had been up to. Just barely protruding from his flesh was the number 4, a colon and then the number 16.

“Scripture dueling, eh?” It was a rhetorical question – the evidence spoke for itself.

“Yeah, doc….high stakes….we were…. fightin’….fightin’ over… the nature… of… God.” Breath ragged and hoarse, he struggled to get the words out.

“For God’s sake man! When will you people learn? How many more must end up like you before this stops?” I said, exasperated. I had seen too much suffering, too much anger, too much bloodshed on both sides. Sides that both claimed exclusive ownership of the truth. Taking a clamp I gingerly tried to work the verse out of his side. It was in deep.

“Ouch! I was doin’-ouch!- okay. Got…off a couple a good ones. Thought I had him nailed when…dammit –ouch!… I shot a Jeremiah 13:14 right in his face. You know….the one that goes “And I will dash them one against another,…. even the fathers and the sons together, ….saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have…. mercy, but destroy …them” ? He suddenly began to cough violently.

“Yes I know it, of course. But context man, what about context?!” I lifted him up so he could drink from a cup of water. I gave him a strong sedative.

“Thanks. Yeah, yeah, you’re right. That’s what he said too. Right after he…blocked my shot with James 5:11. I He  confused me for a second….that’s when he hit me in the gut with 1 John 4:16. That was it. That was all she wrote.”

It wasn’t too long before he fell asleep and I was finally able to remove the scripture verse. It was dug in pretty good and he lost a fair amount of blood. It clanged loudly as I dropped it into the enamel bucket beside the table. Not bad work, I thought. By morning, he’ll be out of the woods. Pouring myself a healthy slug of bourbon over ice I sat down to relax. Just then the phone rang.

“Doc? O’Brien here,  down at the precinct. We’ve got a bad situation  and we need someone who has experience with verse extractions. Don’t bother denying it – everyone knows what you do. But this is real bad and we’re willing to overlook a couple of things. We need your help.”

“What happened? Why can’t the hospital handle this?”

“Doc, it’s a nightmare. It’s Jack van Impe. He’s gotten loose downtown and he’s spraying everything in sight with scripture verses. He’s like a .50 caliber verbal machine gun. He’s got his wife spotting for him and people are down all over the place. It’s mass confusion – a real mess. No one can make sense of all this.”

My God, I thought: Will this madness never end?


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Isn’t it about time we scratch Old Scratch?

Recently on ABC’s “Nightline” there was an interesting debate over whether Satan is for real or just another myth.  (You can link to the debate or read excerpts here.)  Lively, and fun (as Marc Driscoll said) I think they missed the boat by not including a  Jew and a Muslim in the conversation. It might be even more fun, and perhaps enlightening, to hear their interpretations of who Satan is.

Personally, I don’t believe in Old Scratch, for a number of reasons:

1).  The Satanic scenario of good vs. evil is way too similar to many other common myths of the past.

2).  The original authors of the Bible were Jewish and Jews historically have considered Satan to be a metaphor.

3.)  It makes no sense for God to conjure this fellow up – we have all the resources at our disposal to do evil without the need for some supernatural being devoting his existence to leading us astray.  And it is too darn easy to blame our evil on the Devil.

4.) It’s almost impossible to tell where real scriptural support for a ‘living’  Satan (if there is any) ends and folklore begins.

5.) What difference does it make? I mean, does a belief in Satan help you become a better person? Or perhaps…

It was surprising to read in the above linked article that 70% of Americans believe in Satan. Until I considered the prevailing content of the 400 or so cable channels on my TV as well as the pulp magazines  that face me at the grocery store check-out. I don’t know that our nation’s level of sophistication is altogether that high. I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that the same 70% believe in guardian angels. (Maybe Michael Landon is performing a miracle somewhere at this precise moment.)

I don’t think it necessary, however, to discard the idea of Satan completely, as long as we recognize that it is a convenient trope – an anthropomorphism.   For the sake of discussion, it is useful to refer to things as having the characteristics of an individual personality:  the fury of Mother Nature, the whims of Lady Luck or the blindness of Justice.  Satan is another useful metaphor – the mere mention of ‘him’ sums up the thrust of  a psychology text,  but without all the big words.

This is because Satan so easily embodies the characteristics of our selfish and wounded personal egos, as well as what the owners of those egos are capable of doing.  He knows that his destructive behavior is ultimately futile, but he just keeps on being bad. This is the main reason, I think, it made sense for Jesus to use the concept of Satan in his teachings (whose students, by the way. were Jews who may or may not have believed in a distinct person called Satan).

One of the participants in the “Night Line”debate, “New Age” spiritualist Deepak Chopra put it this way:

“Healthy people do not have any need for Satan. Healthy people need to confront their own issues, understand themselves and move towards the direction of compassion, creativity, understanding, context, insight, inspiration, revelation and understanding that we are part of an ineffable mystery. …So I would say be done with Satan and confront your own issues.”

Making an important point about the difference between belief and experience (which, from a spiritual perspective, might be called ‘faith’)  he later said:

“All I have to say is belief is a cover-up for insecurity,” Chopra said. “If something is real, you don’t have to believe in it. You should be able to experience it. And the most fervent believers in the world are the cause of all the problems in the world right now, OK?”

I have to agree. When considering many of the more egregious acts committed by religious people around the world, they all seem to have this one superstition in common: they believe in the Devil.



…but Jesus liked rich people, too.

Clive Christian No. 1 perfume seems to be the world’s most expensive over the counter perfume available starting at just under $2,000.00 USD for a 1 oz. bottle.

We all know the story in John’s gospel (12:1-8) about how Jesus attends a dinner party in Bethany, and afterwards the host, Martha, washes Jesus’ feet with some expensive perfume and then dries them with her hair. For more than a few reasons this was scandalous to those present, especially Judas, who being the materialistic guy he was, knew exactly how much money was being wasted:

“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”

Now, a denari is thought to be a typical day’s wage of that time, so the perfume Martha was using amounted to almost a year’s salary for most people. Today, in my very affluent home town, the median income is $74,167 ( I, for one, am the reason why that figure isn’t higher). So no matter how you slice it, this perfume cost a lot of money. A LOT of money.

So if Martha could afford to own perfume that cost that much, she must have been wealthy. Rich. Loaded. And Jesus liked hanging out with her.

Never thought of that before. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on ‘em myself. Probably just sour grapes.

Still, a $74,000 perfume?! That’s pretty damn excessive. ( A top of the line Porsche Cayman costs that much but at least you can drive it around for a few years.) Maybe dumping it all over Jesus’ feet was more than just a symbolic act of love. Maybe this was also a sign of her repentance – a radical change in her values.

Yet I wonder if the perfume really smelled all that good- if it was worth price. How could it be? And I wonder if maybe Jesus felt a little self-conscious later on, walking home and encountering friends in the street, about his excessively aromatic feet.



If God Cannot Tolerate Sin, and if Jesus was God, then how come Jesus only got pissed off at religious people?

I listened to Alistair Begg on the radio this morning ( it’s always good to hear the other side of things – helps to affirm me) and he was preaching on how God, being perfectly holy, can’t even stand to look at sin.  That’s why he had to send Himself,  as Jesus, to pay the price (God’s price, btw) for all the world’s sin. In fact,  at that  point, hanging on the cross, in which Jesus “took on” all of our sin (whatever that means) God completely abandons Jesus, his Son (whatever that means).  “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

But if Jesus was God (or at least bearing the character of God) then where was his wrath for sinners?  If, like God, he would recoil in the presence of sin, then why did he seem to prefer hookers, thieves and a whole slew of other sinners over the upright and uptight with their 1st century crew cuts and their clean white sneakers?

I read a great line in Sarh Mile’s new book “Jesus Freak”: the pastor asks the congregation  “Who believes that God is merciful and just?”  A bunch of hands fly up.  “Wrong” he says.  “God is merciful”.

Can’t be both.

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Prescription for a Pauline Headache

The Word of God proclaims, “women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35  (as quoted on

“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” - Romans 16:7

“…It ought to be said that from a biblical standpoint, there is no tolerance in Scripture for women leaders in the church, apart from women leading other women–older women teaching younger women and leading their children and so forth.” –John MacArthur

“About the injunction of the Apostle Paul that women should keep silent in church? Don’t go by one text only.” – Theresa of Avilla

This subject of a woman’s authority has been a thorny issue for the church for a very long time. Entire denominations have split over this. People’s lives are ruined over this. Which perhaps is understandable, if, as many Christians believe, Paul’s writings are The Word of God. Because if they are the words of God, how can God contradict himself so often?  And apparently contradict Jesus, too?

Paul’s words were used over the centuries to justify Antisemitism, authoritarianism, slavery, misogyny and sexual bigotry. He also wrote tender love poems memorized by people around the world.  Which Paul should we listen to? Or should we listen to him at all?

Now, I think there is an enormous amount of good stuff in Paul’s writings. There’s a lot we can learn from what he has to say and a lot (but not all) of his advice is well worth heeding (even though he is really not advising “us” who came 20 centuries later – Paul thought the end of the world was just around the corner). It’s even been said that Paul, and not Jesus, was the true founder of the Christian religion.

But a lot of what he says just doesn’t make sense to contemporary ears and a lot of today’s Christians have dismissed Paul as irrelevant or even dangerous to the faith.  I even considered doing so myself but then remembered that Paul’s work is the earliest known written account of the Christian faith, years before the earliest Gospel. If the Gospel writers were likely influenced by Paul then how can we ignore him? And then how do we reconcile him to the Gospel? This used to give me terrible headaches.

Unless I stopped trying to make this first-century square Jewish peg fit into our Western culture’s round holes I would always  bog down in his words. Instead of some iconoclastic mouthpiece for God I needed to see Paul as the man he was, when he was, and where he was. Paul needed to be put back into the scope of real history, freshly scrubbed of all the unfortunate doctrines and dogmas that his writings are the source of. I believe that many of Paul’s words are taken so far out of context that the resulting Christian theology is tragically flawed -so flawed that the world has suffered terribly for it. This theology has become the conventional Western Christian wisdom and, using circular reasoning, is now the distorted lens through which we view Paul – as well as Jesus.

That’s why I am excited about this upcoming series on Paul and Empire at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center.  I’ve read a couple of Crossan and Borg’s books and they were mind opening; intelligent and scholarly – not written for seminarians, but in a way I could understand. I’ll admit it was hard for me at first because they so thoroughly skewered ‘truths’ that I once held to be sacred. But when I began to learn about Paul and Jesus’ “back stories”, the story of Israel under Roman domination, everything began to make sense. The now obvious parallels to our day and age began to emerge and I was able to understand better what Jesus meant by the ‘coming Kingdom of God’ and what my minor role might be (or how I might be standing in the way).

But more importantly, the headaches are gone.

(originally posted at Gounded and Rooted in Love )

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The Bible as Dictionary Auto-Antonymica

From Wikipedia: An auto-antonym (sometimes spelled autantonym), or contranym (originally spelled contronym), is a word with a homograph (a word of the same spelling) that is also an antonym (a word with the opposite meaning). Variant names include antagonym, Janus word(after the Roman god), enantiodrome, and self-antonym. It is a word with multiple meanings, one of which is defined as the reverse of one of its other meanings.

Here are some examples of these words, from A to W:

  • apology – admission of fault in what you think, say, or do; formal defense of what you think, say, or do
  • aught – all, nothing
  • bolt – secure, run away
  • by – multiplication (e.g., a three by five matrix), division (e.g., dividing eight by four)
  • chuffed – pleased, annoyed
  • cleave – separate, adhere
  • clip – fasten, detach….
  • rent – buy use of, sell use of
  • screen – show, hide
  • seed – add seeds (e.g., “to seed a field”), remove seeds (e.g., “to seed a tomato”)
  • skinned – with the skin on, with the skin removed
  • strike – hit, miss (in baseball)
  • table – propose (in the United Kingdom), set aside (in the United States)
  • transparent – invisible, obvious
  • unbending – rigid, relaxing
  • variety – one type (e.g., “this variety”), many types (e.g., “a variety”)
  • wear – endure through use, decay through use
  • weather – withstand, wear away
  • wind up – end, start up (e.g., a watch)
  • with – alongside, against

Now, most of the words I find in my Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary have more than one definition.  And a surprising number of them have meanings that, though they are not necessarily opposite, are in no way related. Many of these differences have to do with the cultural and technological changes that take place throughout history.  Some words may become obsolete in less than a generation (“phonograph needle” and “phone booth”)  while others take on completely new meanings as jargon and common slang work their way into our vocabularies ( “bad” and “mouse”).

Imagine if we read the dictionary like many of us read the Bible (though it seems to me that most people read the Bible like a dictionary, but that’s another discussion).  We would have factions refusing to accept the idea that one word or phrase could have more than one definition. We might have some people using dictionaries with Old English definitions –  the first definition is the only correct one.  ( Of course this ignores that the ‘first’ definition is really a synthesis of other definitions from other languages and cultures.)  Others might ignore any definition that is not in conventional use, refusing to accept what they consider outdated.  In ether case, conversation between these two groups would prove difficult.

Now, if it came down to  over which dictionary (or its reading) would be ‘right’ and which would be ‘wrong’,  what would it be- the Old or the New?  I think it is pretty obvious that whatever definition is in the forefront of most people’s minds would now be the best way to use that word.  But forgetting the earlier definition would make it almost impossible for us to study the past and perhaps learn important lessons from our ancestors. We would have to leave that up to the ‘experts’ and thereby lose an important part of our ability to decide things for ourselves.

And isn’t this kind of what has happened with people of faith and the Bible?  Some just want one ‘simple’ understanding of scriptures that does not take into account changing times and utter ponderous sentences in attempts to force archaic ideas on contemporary lives. (Whew! Just like that one!)   And others seem to want to take ancient concepts and simply change their meanings to fit only what they can understand today, resulting in increasingly one-dimensional and shallow language.

Seems like there should be another way.

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Scripture Cinema

Not long ago I saw a movie on Netflix called “Passengers”.  At first I didn’t like it all, it seemed formulaic and cliché.  I was ready to write it off but I hung in there. Near the end was a surprising twist that completely changed my understanding of what I had seen earlier.  Seeing the end of this movie changed the entire movie –  it now made sense. If I’d told someone what it was about, only seeing half of the film, I would have been completely wrong.

I think all good movies are like this.  If I were to study just one part of John Ford’s great Western, “The Searchers”(like the part where Ethan finally confronts Scar in his camp) I might think the movie was about the brutality of the Comanche and the best way to deal with them – that the only good Indian is a dead Indian.  I would have missed John Ford’s entire point and also misread his personal views on the American Indian.

I think that’s what most of us do with the Bible.  We read the book like a dictionary.  We aren’t so much interested in how the story turns out or how the end of the story changes the thrust of each chapter, but instead we focus on the paragraphs within each chapter independently, like entries in an encyclopedia, hoping to find meaning in them. We can’t read a story in this way or we just won’t get it.  One look at the shape of this world says that we haven’t. Not even close.

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