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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shaken to the Core

I've been handling some of the more difficult subjects in Scripture lately. This may come as a shock to you, but I have not received universal applause for it. (I get a lot more emails than I get blog comments.) I feel like sometimes it looks like what I'm saying comes naturally, comes easily for me. I thought you should know that it doesn't. This stuff takes time, effort, diligence, careful examination, and long thought. Sometimes there seems to be the perception, "Well, sure, easy for you to say." No, not so much. The fact is that much of what I know today did not come naturally to me at all. The fact is that close scrutiny of Scripture has managed to radically reshape many areas of reality for me.

The thing is, if you don't find that to be true for you, I wonder what you're reading. Look, the Bible is supposed to be "God-breathed". That, alone, should take your breath away. God breathed it out and some of His people wrote it down in their own vernacular, guided by His Spirit. Now, God is not a man. In fact, one of the things of which He assures us in that God-breathed Scripture is "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa 55:8). So if you find as you read through Scripture that it's all sweetness and light, that it simply confirms what you always thought, that God is just like you imagined and the universe operates just like you thought, I would like to suggest that you're not paying attention or you're not getting it right. Look, no one who ever encountered God walked away with a lilt in their step. No, it was always catastrophic. Equally significant, if you read the Bible and find it boring, you are seriously missing out, because these are words from God -- no small deal.

Now, it's true that you cannot measure truth by "It shakes my thinking." A guru who tells me "It's like the sound of one hand clapping" might shake my thinking for awhile, but then I realize it's because he was speaking nonsense. And I've heard more than once during the writing of this series, "Do you know how that looks to the world???!!!!" Frankly, how it looks to the world is also not a valid measure of truth.

I also need to point out that I am not suggesting that the Bible is hard to understand. That's not the problem. It's not that it's hard to understand. It's that we operate from a sinful mind. Paul commanded us to "be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom 12:2). You see, sin rots the brain and sin is opposed to God and here we are in various stages of insanity trying to look at God's reality, as Paul put it, "through a glass darkly". It's not that it's hard to understand. It's that it is in opposition to Natural Man. Indeed, it is in opposition to the direct efforts of "the god of this world" whose aim it is to blind us. In fact, given the sinful nature of human beings and the attacks of Satan, we'd be out of luck if it wasn't for the fact that we have the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.

Well, you've got your Bibles and you've got time. You ought to see if your world doesn't get shaken to the core as well when you let the Holy Spirit open your eyes to Scripture and let the Word of God shape your view of reality. I am certain it will shift your worldview. I guarantee you it won't be simple or easy. If it is, I suspect you need to meet the Author first.


Rich Griese said...

The thing one has to remember is that Michael F. Bird is not a historian, he does not have a history degree. He is part of the religion industry. He should not be looked to for information regarding history.

Cheers! RichGriese.NET

Stan said...

For the sake of readers (because I had to hunt this down myself), the reference to Michael F. Bird does not have anything to do with the post. It is a reference to a discussion over at Wintery Knight.

Anonymous said...

Oh, sorry. I generally make posts on the pages of the person I am talking to. In the religion field, so many people moderate posts, that it's just better to make the post to the page of the person you are talking to, rather than some community blog. That way... the person always gets the post.


Stan said...

Oh, no problem. I got it. It just took me a moment. All is well.

Anonymous said...

Actually I am a recently retired computer geek, that has been studying Christian origins for just over 20 years now. Now that I am retired, I plan on spending more time talking with others that also study the topic. One of the tricks I have learned is to use comments to build a address book of other people interested in the topic.

So if I find a blog post I want to comment on. I will post the comment, and the blog owner always sees that, then I will also post a comment to folks in the thread that also have blogs. That way I also have a system that starts to add blog urls to my address book, that go into a "religion" group. Eventually I flesh out those entries with names, emails, and skype addresses as I get to know the folks.

I am a big believer in talking to individuals instead of big groups like forums/BBSes. I find when I talk with people via email or skype, I have better conversations. I guess it's the difference between sitting in your living room talking to one friend, or sitting in a crowded room talking to 10 people. It just seems to get more done talking to individuals.

The comment threads are still useful cause it tells me the kinds of people that will be worth talking to more. If some blogger consistently deletes my posts, he is probably not a person I will have continuing posts with. But, the folks that do end up talking, I end up being able to share names and urls of others that might have common interests, and I actually help facilitate different people meeting each other.

At present my interest is the Chester Beatty Papyri, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and all the stuff that was going on right around that time.

I blog worth checking out if that kind of thing interests you is Stephan Huller's. That guy is always thinking, and his blog posts a good majority of the time are very thought provoking.