Wait. What? Things I Didn’t Know About the Bible

I was raised in church. I’ve often joked with folks that in the church of my youth, the pastor had to push his way through the our family to get the doors unlocked. That experience formed me and gave me some connections that have lasted my lifetime.

We changed our church affiliation when I was 13.  The involvement didn’t change at all. I did the Monday evening visitation where we’d go and knock on neighborhood doors to talk to folks about Christ. I sat in Sunday School. I sat in Sunday Morning Services. I sat in Wednesday evening services. I was taught all the standard things that I assume almost every other Western Evangelical was taught.

I don’t remember anything being taught to me about the sons of God taking daughters of men as wives. I was not taught that chapter 6 in Genesis records an episode where a divinely established order was violated and resulted in the birth of part-spirit being, part-human giants (nephilim).  I wasn’t taught anything about the divine/spiritual realm other than about Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Satan. I was certainly never taught anything that included “other gods” in any meaningful way.


For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:3

But without other gods, if they are nothing and non-existent, what is this verse saying? Is it saying the LORD is a great King above made up beings? Above nothing? Further, what do we do when the god Dagon 1 is referred to in the same manner, with the same word,  as the LORD 2?

Along with this what was left out, there were things I was warned away from. To me, apocrypha might as well have meant anathema. I came to the conclusion that these books were deceptive and had no value. They weren’t scripture, and were therefore useless. They were to be avoided and I obeyed. I remained willfully and intentionally ignorant of their content.

Maybe we should treat them like bible commentaries or Christian books written today. That was my moment. Wait. What?

That’s what started my latest journey in understanding. I’d noticed that some quotes in the New Testament didn’t have the little letter and the note referencing the scripture that was being quoted. Many did. I use my references and always try to check them. Once in a while, you find new testament writers quoting a work that existed outside of scripture. Jude:14-15 for example.

I was a bit stunned to find that some were quotes from the Book of Enoch. You know, one of those books to avoid. I ended up stumbling across this guy, Dr, Michael Heiser 3 and some of his teachings. The understanding his teachings give has helped the Bible make much more sense to me. I’d challenge you to listen to some of what he teaches.

This is longer than I intended so I’ll end it now with a summary of what he says to relieve any ideas he may be heretical:

  • The Book of Enoch is not, and should not, ever be part of the Canon;
  • God, our LORD, is a unique being and there is no other being like him;
  • God is the creator of everything, including other divine beings;
  • Jesus Christ is/was/will be God and is the sole pathway to salvation.

Notes:

  1. 1 Samuel 5:7
  2. Exodus 3:18
  3. https://drmsh.com/

“They” are Us

Paul wrote in the book of Romans about men who rejected God. God gave them over to their desires. We get a view of what such men look like. I read his description and compare them against daily headlines and can’t help but think God has given this country over to our desires.


They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Romans 1:29-31

That’s What I’ve Been Saying

Over the years I’ve mediated disputes (not legal mediation) between people. On several occasions I found it interesting that they both had the same position but the same vocabulary. The words they were they were using to express themselves were not registering with each other. On those occasions I found the words and would ask, “So-and-so, are you saying this?” When they responded “yes” the other would say, “That’s what I’ve been saying.”

The point here is that sometimes we need to find another way of saying what we are saying to get the point across. Sometimes, it takes someone else to do it for us. When I read this post, I thought, this is exactly what I’ve been saying. What I’ve been saying in particular is how we (the church) gloss over the difficult parts of scripture rather than contemplating them and working them out.

We simply cannot let the passage say what it says and do what it is meant to do.

Jim ELliff, Reading Scripture Rightly

Elliff makes the point that we sometimes are too quick to look at certain passages and immediately try to counter it with another passage that seems to state the opposite.

I think we could liken this to the skill needed when counseling people about work performance. Often people want to turn the conversation from their performance issue with statements like, “Yeah but he/she did it too,” “we’ve always…” or “I was trying to…” As humans, we will do about anything to get out of the discomfort of having to confront  our own shortcomings.

One of the saddest things as a supervisor was always to counsel someone and have them walk out having not owned up to the issue they were having. You could watch them walking away from their career because they weren’t willing to face their own difficult issues. Do we do the same thing with our faith? Do we refuse to correctly understand scripture because doing so challenges our beliefs and makes us confront our own shortcomings? If so, do we walk away from what God truly wants of us?

Thoughts on Yoga

I used to belong to the school that you could probably perform yoga moves without getting into the spiritual aspects of it. I guess I thought you wouldn’t be “doing yoga” unless you were concentrating on the Hindu aspects of it. I no longer think those things.

The difficulty is that yoga, as traditionally understood, doesn’t work that way. In traditional understanding, yoga is  itself  a religious act. The postures  themselves  lead the practitioner to God, whether the practitioner intends this or not. In traditional understanding, in other words, one can’t separate the religious and secular aspects of yoga and one really shouldn’t try.

https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/12/yoga-in-public-schools-american-and-indian/


The process of yoga is an ascent into the purity of the absolute perfection that is the essential state of all human beings…

The guidance of a competent teacher is required to learn methods for awakening the serpent-like vital force that remains dormant and asleep in every human body. 

samij.com


To those in the know, for example, the yogic asanas, or positions, retain elements of their earlier spiritual meanings – the Surya namaskar is a series of positions designed to greet Surya, the Hindu Sun God.

BBC


It should be noted at the outset that the word yoga itself refers to “linking with God.”

krishna.com

Draw your own conclusions.

For me, I’m not sure it’s a great idea for a Christian to participate in an activity designed for the purpose of linking to God. I certainly disagree with the statement that “absolute perfection is the essential state of human beings” and think processes designed to help you reach that realization are an insult to the sacrifice of Christ.

Rather than honoring Hindu gods and awakening a “serpent-like” force found in every human, I’ll just do some stretches from my pee-wee football days if I feel tight.

Psalms

Several months ago I set out to read one of the Psalms each day and spend some time quietly thinking about it afterwards. I have missed a few days here and there but have mostly stuck with it.

I’ve been struck by how deep into depression David sank. Yet he never loses sight of God’s supreme authority over all creation or the love he has for us. Strangely, while going through a rough time myself, I think these sometimes rather gloomy sounding prayers were very helpful.

Now, as I near the end of them, I experience some sadness that I must leave them behind for a while. At the same time, it’s like the end of a race and I feel energized. I have to resist the urge to rush through the last few.

ἐπιεικής

Greek word for the week, ep-ee-i-kacé.

This word is Strong’s #1933 and means mild, gentle, moderation, or patient.

It is found in Philippians 4:5 where we as Christians are admonished to live in such a way that this is a trait we are known for. I read that verse and it made me wonder, how can I be sure if I am known for something?

I attended a co-workers memorial service the next day and listened to everything that was said about her. Those were the things she was known for.

I thought about whether or not at my funeral people would say “he was gentle and mild” and I’m not too sure they would. Would they for you?

May we who call ourselves be known for being mild, gentle, and patient. What a mark that would make, especially in today’s social environment.