Does the Bible Answer All Our Questions? Hardly

There has been another Bible-based controversy in the Republican Campaign season.

Apparently a video was spread by the Cruz Campaign showing Marco Rubio disparaging the Bible. Upon further review, Rubio did no such thing. The video was removed and the staffer who posted it was fired.

The video was about Rubio commenting on the Bible’s ability to answer our questions. Although I don’t care about the presidential race too much, I found Rubio’s quote of interest.

“I know exactly what I said to that young man. I said, ‘The answer to every question you’ll ever have is in that book,’ and then I pointed to the Book of Proverbs, which he was reading, and then I said ‘Particularly that one,'” Rubio told reporters in Nevada.

I find this statement interesting. “The answer to every question you’ll ever have is in that book.”

What am I having for lunch? What shirt should I wear? Why is the sky blue? On the most basic level the statement is wrong. But it’s even wrong on “deeper” questions. Why am I suffering? Why do I have cancer? What happens the second after I die?

I think this statement comes from a sincere effort to uphold the Bible, which is fine, but why we have to use hyperbole, and/or lies to do so is unnecessary.

The Bible itself tells us that God has not revealed everything to us. This clearly has to mean there will be many questions the Bible will not answer.

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever

“Things” is plural. There are many things that are secret, things we don’t know, things God didn’t tell us. Part of faith is knowing we don’t know it all, but we trust the One who says He does.

Job had many questions. Note how God did not answer them!

There are questions all over the Bible, many of which are not answered. Some are answered with “Who are you to ask that?” The Bible doesn’t answer all our questions; it even throws questions back at us!

To say that it does answer all our questions just sets us up for ridicule. It is also evidence of self-righteousness. What Rubio probably meant was, “I can answer all your questions.”

In the book of Job, the guy with the questions didn’t get in trouble; the guys with all the answers did.

This is not some sort of anti-Rubio campaign statement. This is merely a call for some integrity and care when we make such statements that are so easily falsifiable.

God does not need our hyperbolic defenses. He just needs us to trust Him. Go and do that.

Why Do Creatonists and Evolutionists Fear Each Other?

My daughter had a discussion in class yesterday about Creation and Evolution and whether both should be taught in school.

First off, Creationism means something different from Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design is a non-religious, scientifically analyzed theory of how stuff got here, concluding that something Intelligent is behind it.

Creationism has more to do with Biblical Creationism. It is my opinion that schools should not teach religion of any sort. Thus, I don’t want the schools to teach Biblical Creationism. This makes me a horrible person among some Christians, but alas, schools will butcher the Bible, so I’d assume they stay away from it (not that the church does much better, but alas).

However, there is an increasing scientific rejection of Darwinian Evolution and an increasing scientific acceptance of Intelligent Design. I believe these facts should be presented in schools. Science is based on problem solving. Presenting problems with Evolution may actually inspire science to do better work. As soon as science rests on ideology, discovery stops, which is especially why Evolutionist’s antagonism toward questioning their theory is so odd to me.

Secondly, it is amusing how both sides are so terrified of each other. Evolutionists are afraid of Creationism or Intelligent Design, presumably because a Creator implies morality, judgment, accountability to something larger than self or society, or any number of other reasons.

They fear establishing religion. Their disdain for religion and religious people is so violently angry, it does make a guy wonder why so much anger. Me thinkest thou protesteth too loudly.

Before we get all rah-rah bashing Evolutionists, I’m also intrigued by the fear so many Creationists have about Evolution. If you believe God created the world because His infallible Word you supposedly believe says so, why are you afraid of some guy’s theory?

I imagine many an uptight Christian parent believes that exposing their kids to contrary opinions will possibly destroy their carefully crafted faith they laid out for them. If we keep little Johnny isolated, little Johnny will believe all we want him to believe.

I imagine there is some truth to that logic, but I doubt Johnny’s faith will ever become personal. Agreeing with the only option you know is not faith, however. Little Johnny might agree with mommy and daddy all the way to hell.

I believe God created the world, and I’m even one of those weirdos who thinks God created the world in six literal days. I believe that because that’s what the Bible says. Both Evolution and Creationism are based on faith. No Evolutionist was there at the beginning, nor was any Creationist.

As Hebrews 11 says, it is by “faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” It is also by faith the Evolutionist believes the world was framed by chance. The Evolutionist holds Science as his word of authority; the Creationist relies on the Bible. In both cases, you are taking another person’s word for it–both are based on faith.

I am not afraid of Evolution. I have quite a lot of confidence in the Bible. I believe that if a person truly analyzes Evolution they will find significant problems. I believe the Bible, although not answering all our questions, presents an outlook on life that makes way more sense in many ways. I understand why Evolutionists disagree with that, but I do not understand why they fear it.

Fear is a sign of insecurity. If you fear the other side, you are merely admitting your insecurity in defending your side or disproving the other side. Fear and ignorance go hand in hand.

Most who fear competing ideas (whether Evolutionists or Creationists), are admitting they don’t know what they are talking about. If you are one of these people, I suggest you learn a little more about your view and then learn more about the other side (by reading the other side, not reading what your side says about the other side). There is nothing to fear in being informed, other than hard work. But isolating, being afraid, demanding silence to the other side, will do very little and will keep you ignorant and terrified.

The Bible can take care of itself. God is a big boy, He can defend Himself just fine. We can Trust Him. Let your kids know that. Let them know we don’t have to fear alternative views of life. If we truly believe we have Truth on our side, what is there to fear?

A Few Thoughts on Ambition

One of my areas of confusion as a father is how much do I push my children to do stuff, to excel, to dominate, and have ambition.

It seems our world is consumed with ambition. We celebrate people who work 90 hours a week and make a ton of money and buy fancy things and go on nice vacations and post happiness constantly on Facebook.

As a pastor, I know many behind the scenes things about people. I know their debt. I know their family problems. I know their internal turmoil. I know their emptiness that sets in when ambition is realized, or if it is always out of grasp.

I wonder how much of our touting of ambition and excellence is nothing more than selfishness that destroys the soul?

When Jesus told His followers to take up their cross, deny self, and follow Him, He can’t possibly have meant “At all cost, get on the A honor roll, get into the best college, excel at all you do, and take over the world.”

When Paul said, “It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me,” I can’t imagine his intended point was, “Be all you can be. Be the best. Live for respect, honor, and awards. Do all you can to make money.”

The New Testament has so many warnings about money and the dangers of pursuing it, yet most Evangelical preaching tells people to go get it and get it better than others get it. Joel Osteen is no longer an outlier.

I want my kids to do well. I want my daughter to destroy people on the tennis court. I want my daughter to make other piano players give up after hearing her. I want my son to turn awesome double plays, or strike out the side in baseball.

I want my kids to do well in school. Yet I also know that school, sports, instruments, and most other activities are vanity, vanity, because I don’t know if you know this or not, but all is vanity.

Ambition is talked about in the Bible. At least in the English Standard Version. The KJV translates it “strife.” Ambition is putting yourself first, which inevitably leads to fighting and division. Selfish-ambition ruins individuals and relationships.

Yet selfish-ambition is the underlying application of most modern sermons.

One of the greatest uses of this word usually translated “strife” or “ambition,” is in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.”

If you’re going to aspire to anything in life, according to the Bible (that book we say is our authority for life and doctrine), it is to aspire to calm down and mind your own business.

Yes, what you do, do it well as to the Lord. We have responsibilities to care for our biological and church families. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. Work to fulfill those basic obligations.

Don’t do it for the love of money. Don’t do it for rewards. Don’t do it for recognition and praise. Just find your thing and go do it. Let the results take care of themselves.

Any other ambition will ruin you and your relationships, primarily your relationship to Jesus Christ.

As a believer, it’s no longer you who lives. I imagine that means something very practical.

Why is the Pope Called “Pontiff?”

I came across this snippet in a commentary by John Walvoord, I do not know enough to validate its accuracy, but thought it was intriguing enough to look into. Here is his quote:

Crowns in the shape of a fish head were worn by the chief priests of the Babylonian cult to honor the fish god. The crowns bore the words ‘keeper of the bridge,’ symbolic of the ‘bridge’ between man and Satan.

This handle was adopted by the Roman emperors who used the Latin title Pontifex Maximus, which means ‘major keeper of the bridge.’ And the same title was later used by the Bishop of Rome. The pope today is often called the pontiff, which comes from pontifex.

I have come across one Catholic source that says pontifex means “bridge builder,” but they include nothing about fish gods.

The Latin Vulgate translates “high priests” of the Jewish religion as pontifices (plural) or pontifex (singular). This is more likely due to the already accepted notion of pontifex referring to a church leader when the Vulgate was being translated.

I have verified that early Roman Emperors after Christianity became the official religion, used the title.

I also came across an article talking about the pope’s hat that looks like a fish’s head, which is traced back to the Babylonian fish god, Dagon. It goes something like this:

popehat

 

popeheadThe problem with such things is that, although there may be a grain of truth in the pagan origins of much Catholic tradition, there is also a lot of conspiratorial witch hunting.

A lot of Evangelical commentators during the 1950’s had a field day with Catholicism, including My Boy, Harry Ironside, who said the pope is “the direct successor of the high priest of the Babylonian mysteries and the servant of the fish god Dagon, for whom he wears, like his idolatrous predecessors, the fisherman’s ring.”

Certainly there are threads of continuity with pagan religion, I find that to be undeniable. To say this is “direct succession” might be a stretch. However, it has more to do with Dagon than direct succession with the Apostle Peter.

In the end, there are many reasons I am not Catholic. This is one more.

A Few Thoughts on Recreation

I am currently on level 490 in Candy Crush. Candy Crush is an app where you match kinds of candy in challenging puzzles to achieve the goal. It’s fun. It is also a colossal waste of time.

However, every life has some time to waste. I enjoy playing Candy Crush while listening to podcasts. I enjoy playing a few games while waiting for my wife  who said she was leaving “in a minute.” It’s a nice diversion while in waiting rooms or sitting in the car waiting for kids.

It’s still a waste of time, but most of the time, it’s time I’d be wasting anyway. And, yes, I know, I could be reading my Bible or memorizing. I got that covered already.

I consider Candy Crush to be recreation. If you think about the word “recreation” you will notice it’s made up of two parts. Re and creation. It literally means “to refresh by means of relaxation and enjoyment, as restore physically or mentally.

You know you have successfully recreated when you feel more alive afterwards.

Sometimes we think recreation is a waste. That depends. Some things we consider recreation really aren’t.

There are times when I watch too much TV, or play too much Candy Crush, or watch too many videos on YouTube, where I certainly don’t feel more alive afterward. In fact, sometimes I feel awful and horrible about existence itself.

One man’s recreation is another man’s waste of time. I know people who judge my football watching even though they obsessively watch movies. People think running is stupid, because everyone should fish. Your recreation is not a standard others should be judged by.

One of the greatest things in life is finding something that gives you life that is also helpful to others. For me, preaching and writing, when it goes well, is recreation. It gives me a charge. I feel re-created after a good, rousing sermon.

One of the reasons I have maintained this blog for so long is that I simply enjoy writing. Whether anyone reads it, not really the main point! Even less of a point is whether anyone liked it! I just like writing.

We all have down-time in life, and those who don’t have down time have issues. We need down time. We need diversion and recreation. We need rest. We need to unplug the brain at times. This is not a bad thing.

Christians tend to get obsessed with “Redeem the time” guilt trips. “Every second must be spent for eternity. People go to hell because you are crushing candy.” Lighten up. God rested, I imagine we should too.

But all things can be abused. We should think carefully about our time choices, but we should also refrain from obsessing about being productive every second of existence. You’ll give yourself an ulcer. There is a time to chill.

Find that time and find something that recreates you.