My Purpose for Writing
My purpose for writing essays is to clarify Bible passages and to clean up misunderstandings that have built up over the decades. There are many new translations which also help to address the confusion. Rarely have I found them to miss the mark except on a very few but very essential passages. Misunderstandings may exist because definitions of ancient Greek and Hebrew words are still being refined. So, my recommendation is to compare versions, which is easily done with online Bibles — whatever is easy to read. The Bible is meant to be easily read in modern spoken languages. For example, the websites have a parallel drop down arrow, allowing the choosing of various translations. For an example web site: https://www2.bible.com/bible/111/HEB.11.NIV
The Bible is an historical collection of books and letters, poetry and prophecy, and the transcendent story of redemption, the story completed by Jesus of Nazareth. The Jewish Messiah came to reconcile all of Humanity, both Jew and Gentile, to His loving Father, adoption into one family. Basically, I want people to get beyond all the nonsense and arrive at a sensible decision about the existence of God and to arrive at the door of knowing His love for all Humanity.
Reading the Bible can be very tedious and tiresome. So, many people understandably avoid reading the Bible and therefore can never digest its messaging. Also, all the religious words have become quite meaningless. Like “evil,” what does that word really mean? The modern word that should be used is “harmful.” “Sin” is a little bit easier to understand. It means people who are trying to improve themselves and their behavior, but they too are still missing the mark. People who don’t give a crap, willfully causing harm, need the Bible to help them realize the error of their ways. People need to know that God doesn’t want us to miss out on all the good He has in store for Humanity.
In addition, some Bible scholars ignorantly predetermine edits of some passages to fit their personal beliefs. This, of course, causes more confusion and debates. We are ourselves not innocent in this tendency, either. Sometimes our mindsets push for what we want to believe, what is easier to believe, or what we already believe.
Sometimes we hold onto what someone in a position of authority has trained us to believe. It might be something we have feared. We don’t particularly read to discover. We read to confirm, to justify ourselves, our own thinking. I certainly have over-written passages as my mind wanders from the text or overshadows it. It’s not always easy to concentrate, to focus our minds. Maybe reading just a little bit at a time and thinking about what has been read would be more productive. Oh, and I find it helpful to ask God about opening my understanding. In this way, reading the Bible has become enthralling to me, always discovering new gems of truth here and there — kind of like beachcombing for ornamental seashells.
Sometimes we are told authoritatively this is what the Bible says, but when we read for ourselves, we discover it says something completely different. Maybe this is why Jesus had so many disputes with the religious teachers and authorities during his ministry on Earth.
So, this latter confusion occurs when our mindsets resurrect what has been dormant in our heads instead of what is actually written. It is an intellectual type of personal prejudice that has us locked in. Blindness overshadows what we should see and deafness what we should hear.
Scientific arrogance has also contributed to the confusion, largely through attempts to debunk the bunk. The bunk is what is already known to be false and then arguing about its falseness. I guess it’s like arguing one falsehood against another. Circular firing squad? Yeah. Everybody can be right. Right? That seems to be so much easier, too. Everybody is right. Right?
Finally, with a predetermined and prejudiced outcome in the debate, attempting to force personal temporal ideas on the eternal truths is both illogical and a waste of time. Whatever is argued becomes more irrelevant as it dribbles on and on.
On the other hand, Jesus promises an eternal spring of water bubbling up from inside us never to be thirsty again (John 4:4–14) When a person is born again, the Bible comes alive, and the tediousness and tiredness disappear and are replaced by joy of revelation and a certain excitement of discovery. Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
Notwithstanding all that, Scientific discoveries, when applied fairly, often support the Bible. They don’t overthrow it, as many would wish. Archeology and Geology, Biology and Chemistry, even Astronomy have lent credence to Bible stories and therefore the wise truths embedded between its bindings.
“God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing.” (Job 26:7) Without modern equipment, how did the ancients know that? “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens… let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years…’” Astronomers from the East (the Magi) who saw the Bethlehem star understood it to be a sign and followed it to Bethlehem where they found the promised King, the Son of David, at that time, a toddler living with his parents. These men were not superstitious promoters of nonsense as today’s astrologists. They were the Astronomers of their day, making sense out of the sky they studied.
Then, in Archeology, for another example, Bible towns that cynics had claimed did not exist, have been discovered. Find some examples which are discussed on this website, proving my point:
Now, there is an inverted situation of the battle between Bible and Archeological Science. It is found in the existence of civilizations throughout the world — in Asia, in the Americas, the Norse regions and others — populations existing some centuries before the historical story of Adam and Eve. Yet a closer, slower, open-minded reading of Genesis reveals that before God set aside the Garden of Eden and put Adam and Eve there, God had created Humankind. That is written in Genesis chapter One which is, of course, before chapter Two. (Note that also in chapter One, Humans are given dominion over the Earth and all living things in it. That wasn’t specifically or exclusively given to Adam and Eve. They were given their own chores.) Thus, we inherited a view embedded into the altered Creation Story by people advancing their own view, perhaps their own agenda and prejudices, or perhaps just ignorantly. Arrogant. Why do I say “arrogant”? From the artwork devolved from this edited version of the Creation Story, all the people look European to me. Not for nothing.
What is written is true. The altered story is not.
So, after creating Mankind, God carved out a special parcel of land and planted a Garden in it. “The Lord God took the man [Adam] and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Easy. Not complicated. Just don’t even go near the one tree over there. But they did go over there. They ate from it. When confronted by God, they started blaming one another for their disobedience. The whole story brings an allegorical lesson as to what we have become today as well as throughout history. It is convenient to blame others for our mistakes or the declining state of affairs in Society. Taking responsibility is much harder and much more rare.
Nevertheless, that bastardized version of Creation took many forms throughout history, but basically it was arrogant and is revealed in world history and history of the Americas, as in “Manifest Destiny.” which was supposed to justify the slaughter of the original inhabitants. Arrogance proclaimed it to be our God-given right.
Oh, and by the way, it was Adam who named Eve, “the mother of all living.” It was not God. After all, Adam was in the habit of naming living things brought to him. (Genesis 2:19 & 3:20) It is also noteworthy to keep in mind that up until the time they were expelled from the Garden, they had lived a very sheltered life, having no clue that other people existed.
Please note, God’s chosen people, referred to as “the Children of God,” and everybody else, referred to as the “Children of Men,” did not set up any racial superiority, but it only had to do with God selecting a designated group in order to demonstrate His purposes and ways of right living. One of those purposes was to rid Creation of the most vile inhabitants who opposed everything called righteous and doing great harm to both people and the Earth. Europeans were not called to do so, but apparently chose to do so, justifying all their actions as if they were superior to everybody else, hanging onto their misunderstanding the Bible. Arrogant and presumptuous.
This is a bit of a sidetrack, but if you have ever watched the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” you may recall how oppressed the Chosen People were, and that led Tevyev to complain to God, “I know we are your chosen people, but why can’t you choose someone else once in a while?” Sometimes it isn’t so easy to be a child of God. Nevertheless, on we go.
There are the Laws of Physics which indicate by their very existence, intelligent creation as recorded in the Bible. These irrefutable laws indicate in the real sense that a chaotic explosion, by its very destructive nature, could not possibly have created the order so evident throughout our Universe. Why can we figure things out unless everything has commonality?
Still, as already mentioned, we are curious by nature. Now, I have no college degree, but what I can see plainly is a highly ordered Universe. Humanity can explore it in great detail, and I have noticed the more microscopes can see, there seems to be no end to smaller and smaller things. My High School only taught protons, neutrons, electrons. Today it’s quarks. And to boot, all the parts of the atom are energy. So all matter is really energy. What does the Bible say? God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. In addition our Solar System just happens to sit where we can use telescopes to peer out into the entire Universe to a view beyond our wildest imaginations.
Science, in the way-back-when-I-was-a-boy era, claimed that the newest studies, offering the Big Bang Theory, were nonsense. Nonsense they shouted. Nonsense. Why? It was parallel to the Bible story of Creation. It supported the Bible. They had chosen Science as their God, and their God could not be challenged. That is exactly what I meant by Scientific arrogance. Maybe that is what the Law of Physics means by insisting that every action has an opposite and equal reaction — rejecting sound ideas because of personal prejudices — a line in the sand not to be crossed.
Biological research has found all living organisms have a common coded building schematic called DNA. Even viruses have a similar type of blueprint called RNA. Both are genetic directions for replication of the species. Any way it is looked at, the consistency of it all suggests an intelligent process used by the same architect.
It is like identifying who painted a masterpiece. VanGogh? Picasso? Matisse? Da Vinci? The creator is determined by professionals who look at style, technique, materials, etc. Why? What was created shows who created it. The natural world is uniquely similar. Everything works in the same way and interacts with steady consistency. So, I say intelligent creation by God, not Science. Science is part of Creation, not the other way around. Science can study the Creation because it is not random, but purposed by Who, not by what. Because there is One creator, our studying can develop reasonable and consistent conclusions, not chaotic gobbledygook.
Current Geological discoveries show a possible confirmation of the stories of both Gilgamesh and Noah’s Flood. Check this website: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/evidence-for-a-flood-102813115/ To me, looking back, it was a historical, regional flood caused by the collapse of an earthen dam that created a huge lake at the end of the Ice Age. However, to the people living there, it sure seemed like the whole world was deluged! And that is how they recorded it. So, when religious leaders and scholars insist that the Bible is the inspired word of God and therefore, infallible, that becomes the proof there was a worldwide flood. That is what is called “circular reasoning.” I prefer the Scientific version. Anything that is false cannot become a pillar of truth. Today, the pillar of the truth of Noah’s Flood is Science. The Bible remains infallible, not because of someone’s opinion, but because it is true.
The Bible is infallible. It has been faithfully recorded and copied. It does contain the inspired word, that is, the account of the truths of God and even the actual words spoken by God. However, every single word was not dictated by God and saved to the Cloud. That is a misunderstanding. Widely proclaimed, but it is not exactly the correct concept. It was written faithfully by men telling of their actual experiences of the truth of God. Guided by God, inspired to actually write the oral history down and what they had actually experienced. They lived it, and they were inspired by God to write it down for posterity. At some point, yes, it probably was an oral tradition, but at some point God inspired them to preserve all in writing.
Science says that over billions of eons life evolved. Again however, in the good old days, teachers showed us embryos from various animals, and by looking at them, whether a chicken, a cow, or a human, they were all the same. Again, same artist, same masterpiece.
We were told of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, “The Origin of the Species.” Yet, even today’s version, though using bigger words and more complicated reasoning, is drawn up with that arrogant prejudice against the Bible, and without distinct proof. I see lookalikes but no missing links to confirm the theory. Similar structures, but that points to the same sculptor. What proof we have today is that species become extinct. They don’t adapt to the point of becoming a new and improved species. They disappear from the face of the Earth.
That brings me to a more ethereal question: Why is there beauty? Why can we perceive it? What is the scientific necessity for beauty? Or the clouds? Or colors? Or birds? Or bees? Flowers? Trees? You? Me? Why is this such an existence surrounded by and intertwined with marvelous beauty? Maybe the outside world sheds a condemning light on the darkness of our inside world and even that of the world surrounding us. Maybe beauty exists just for beauty’s sake. Maybe it shows how glorious God’s artwork is and maybe it reveals a part of His character with so much love for us, the crown of His Creation.
It might take a “leap of faith” to believe either version of creation, but that leap should be an informed one, not a blind leap. True Science does not disqualify true Faith coming from the words of the Bible. Rather, it is a reinforcement, a bulwark against cynicism. Choose between Science and the Bible if you want, but they do not actually oppose one another.
Was it a thermonuclear explosion that created the well-ordered Universe? Was it an origin where the all-powerful God of the Bible created and purposefully ordered the Universe? We all know the Universe exists, but we still question whether God exists.
We are stubborn. God is patient. We don’t like the idea of answering to anyone. Jesus will answer the door when we knock. We relish our personal freedom. Jesus came to set the captive free. We put our rights over our responsibility, independence over loving our neighbor. That is the rub, isn’t it? It is a malignant outgrowth of false pride, but Jesus came to heal all who are diseased.
People try to contradict the Bible with Science and vice versa. The cynical — whether religious or secular — the cynical minded have not studied either the Bible or Science. Perhaps they have waded into the shallows, but they have only gained a cursory knowledge. So, they are not properly equipped to criticize or to compare or to debate. They do anyways — even when the waters deepen over their heads. Stubbornness, burgeoning from false pride. Isn’t it?
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.” (Hebrews 2:6–7 and see Genesis 1–2)
Humanity is a curious species, adventurous with a knack for exploring all parts of existence, all dimensions of our Universe as well as all the dynamics of our inner selves. Exploration starts as soon as we are born. Babies explore their mothers’ faces and cuddle to their warmth. As soon as they learn to crawl, off they go. Parents fuss over them and learn how to respond to their needs. Kids explore their neighborhoods. And on it goes.
We live. We die. Then what happens? First of all, the Bible records Jesus’ teaching that we cannot see past the noses on our faces until we are given new eyes to see. Born by our mothers for life in this universe, born again by the Spirit of God for life in the next universe. We cannot experience this worldly realm until we are naturally born. We cannot experience the heavenly realm until we are supernaturally reborn. Otherwise, we are left with a very short and rather meaningless and pathetic existence. “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) Wouldn’t it be good to know that there is more to life than meets the eye? Instinctively we know that there is more, perhaps much more. It is not wishful thinking. It is instinctive Reality. “God exists and rewards those who seek Him in earnest.” (Hebrews 11:6)
That has been my experience anyways. My experience is that Jesus is like a hands-on type of tradesman. His earthly family worked in the trades, handcrafting useful items for the working class. I think that that was not just happenstance. God has plans. God’s blueprint. Remember?
God is still busy making useful items, even using discarded human beings, making them useful and part of his architecture. That’s been my experience, and since I had been most useless, dull witted, corrupt and collapsed inside with no practical purpose, empty and without love … Then, I asked Jesus’ forgiveness and His presence in my life. Now I have a purpose: writing these essays in the hope someone hears and sees and discovers and responds — not to me, but to God. Jesus is calling. You need to answer your cell phone.
Now, for me, it might be three steps forward and two steps back, but before I was granted a second birth, it had been two steps forward and three steps back. For sure, I still trip on the stairs occasionally, but even if my hand also slips off the railing, there is another, stronger hand. Jesus grabs my hand and does not let go, helps me up, dusts me off, and away I go again, safe in His watchful care over me. Jesus is lovingly hands-on. So, thank you, Jesus.
That’s been my experience for the past fifty odd years.
Finally, the Old Testament of the Bible and the first five books of the New Testament are preserved for everyone’s enlightenment. The letters of the New Testament are primarily for the benefit of Born Again Believers. I say that not to discourage reading the entire Bible, but to point out it may be a lot like window shopping. Do you like what you see? Maybe you should go in and try it on, look in the mirror, and then decide.
Another thing the letter writings of Jesus’ disciples does for everyone is to emphasize the enmity between this world’s thinking and God’s — the new thinking Believers are supposed to develop. “For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16) So, there is a choice set up in the passages of this New Testament section of the Bible. The choice is between the material rewards of existence in this world or the character development for spiritual rewards in this life and the eternal life Jesus has promised.
There is so much more to share, but it would be so much more beneficial for individuals to read the Bible for themselves and seek Jesus’ presence in life.
(Besides comments, questions for me can also be entered, and I will try to discuss them with you. If it’s a mystery to me, I’ll say that, too.)