Over the last week, I have been confined to bed with excruciating physical pain due to another herniated disc. Exhaustion from thinking I had found the cure to my mobility issues, and the crushing disappointment that My Dr.’s passed on to me for thinking I could ever get better with a medication or a procedure to eliminate nerve pain. Stupidly I thought we had found the foundation to a cure, and launch pad that would catapult us to real results. While down for the count, a document came across my path Published in “Harvard Magazine – The Bits the Bible Left Out” in November, 2018 by Karen L. King. This gave me something to chew on while lying around doing nothing.
Karen is the first woman appointed as the Hollis Professor of Divinity, the oldest endowed chair in the United States. In spending some time with this article, I began to think, and concluded this country, and Christians alike have drifted from their roots in many ways. Cultural shift over time is normal, and thoughts about even the most basic cultural themes change. This prompted me to take a pause on my Exodus study, and my normal travel blog. I needed to answer for myself who we are as Christians, what our role is in society, and to think about my journey of faith. To hold myself accountable to my research and the thoughts that I had during this quest, I decided to document the path I followed, and share it with all those who are interested. If your not interested in this work, that is fine, I hold nothing against you, can read my dribble or go look at LOL cats. Everyone has their thing.
Karen is a highly intelligent lady, she has traveled the globe in search of theological truth. She seeks to prove truth by discovering the truth or fables from other sources outside the canonized biblical account. She is seeking to discover the authenticity of the Bible and the Christian faith. Karen is truly human in that she does not want the canned truth to be forced upon her, she needs to test what she can before accepting, or denying the facts before her. Proper critical thinking is not a cowards trip in which to embark. “Harvard Magazine” does not publish those of whom it believes are not intellectuals, Harvard believes she has the metal of a true intellectual and so do I.
Karen at this point, has come to conclusions in her career that we as Christians are forced to address, as they are not compatible with our faith. One conclusion is that Christ’s teachings alone are our way to a stable society and to salvation. Karen believes, that Christ death may have been an unintended side effect of his teachings. Karen’s ideas are not in harmony with the basic tenants of Christian faith. Not in liberal nor conservative Christian thought. This is a cause for debate not just in Christian faith but in nearly every cultural group with collective morals. History needs to be researched, codified, and normalized in order for any group of humans to have any sort of stability.
In this blog it is my intention to discuss Christ from a Christian perspective, why divine intelligent design matters, why Christ’s death was no accident, and what that means to those of us on the Christian journey. I cannot take on all faiths, so I have chosen to narrow the subject down a bit. Really I cannot in one blog due real justice to the goals I have set. People have been discussing these things well before the time of Christ. In my short life span, I would have some real catching up to do.
In all fairness I believe it would be unfair for anyone reading this article to not have read Karen’s article before going any further. In no way do I intend to put Karen down or belittle her as a human, nor her faith. It would be an honor for me to sit next to her and discuss her past, research, and her faith, though at my education level I fear I would bore her rather quickly. I value hard work and dedication, I do not base a person’s worth on their conclusions and beliefs. As we grow in our lives, often our ideas change over time, we need to be open to logic, and open to changes that effect our faith, yet steadfast in what we know to be truth.
The Bits The Bible Left out
This article is a reflection of Karen’s stance, My stance, and that of many other theological professionals of which I am not. So please read this with an open mind, and consider it in connection with your knowledge and your past experiences and studies. Karen and I have not lived your life. https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2018/11/karen-king-harvard If you agree with Karen, that is fine, it really is between you and your God. If you don’t agree with Karen, fine, but remember to be kind and discuss her stance with gentleness and respect.
The History of the Universe
Christians see the Bible as earth’s history book which science can prove. Secular scientist see earth as the history book that disproves a living God. This debate has existed since before the early philosophers and will continue until the end of time. Maybe some day the sun will burn out and cause the end, or the return of the Son will be our end. Stand where you wish on this issue, but think about it. Here are some of my earlier articles on Creation and Evolution. If your interested in that debate:
The Authenticity of The Bible
Those articles answer in some part what Christian’s generally believe about the the foundation of our vary existence. They discuss the evidence for intelligent design. There, though is another question of great importance. We really can go no further in our Christian faith until we have attempted to answer the authenticity, the divinity, and the consistency of the Bible. Believe it or not, many Christians have never read the book, much less taken the time to validate it’s message. Truth is most of us could never dive that deep, this in itself would be a lifetime of work. So we have to turn to scholars who are believers, and scholars who are skeptics in order to get some kind of direction. One such group of Scholars that I turn to regularly is the “Christian Research Institute” Chaired by Hank Hannagraph AKA “The Bible Answer Man” or “BAM” for short. One must remember they are researchers and humans, and not God. They are fallible, and many of their conclusions I deeply disagree with at this point in my life. I respect them and their work. Here is some of their thoughts on the Bibles Authenticity The MAPS method for investigating the authenticity of Cannon. Validating manuscripts and determining what belongs in the Bible. Did the Bible leave out Jesus being married? “Mary Magdalene Wife of Jesus“
As with all or most of us, we have been abused by people in the name of scripture. We have seen people abusing scripture to get what they want. I have seen people use scripture and Christ to coerce behavior. “Sleep with me and I will not kill myself and go to hell because of you” and other ridiculous things. I have seen Christians do really awful things to people, and I have seen people determine that these people since they are respected Christians are mirrors of Christ. Some times these fouled people run Churches, Denominations, Nations, and Cultures. God may have even placed them in their roles or just allowed them to enter these roles. Just because someone is a prominent Christian, and a leader does not mean they they corner the market on God and his Divine power. Karen talks about Christian indoctrination and how the Christian values being forced on her tainted her view of Christ.
The Mis-Treatment of Women
Karen points out how women were mistreated in Bible times, and how they are mistreated today. Karen, has a great point in the division that exists between genders, and gives her reaction to gender equality. Jesus believed Karen was right in that women are equally valid as men. Jesus introduced the novel concepts of gender equality to the Hebrew nation of that time.
We have to be careful about letting other Christians influence our view on Christ. Rejecting Christ’s based on the deeds of others, and culture, is a sad way to end up being rejected by Christ. I see the war between good and evil like a great game of chess. We are but pawns, some to be great, some to be sacrificed, and few to really know why God or Satan choose the moves they do. If you were Satan bent on winning the war of good and evil wouldn’t you place wolves in sheep’s clothing in every place where good is represented. It’s not a novel concept, military generals have done this for centuries. This war is fought between two ultimately powerful beings with unlimited knowledge. Gain as much fact as you can, don’t discount a whole culture based on the leaders. I have been deeply hurt by some of these people, but my faith in Christ as the invincible winner, and friend grows stronger as I spend time with him, in spite of the mistakes made by others. We all are fallible, we all make mistakes that hurt others even as we strive for perfection and decency. We must pray daily that we do not crush the faith of another. We all have at one point stepped on others. We are human, looking to be kinder gentler and more like Christ. To those I have hurt, the best I can do is apologize, and learn. All any of us have to look forward to is the Grace of Jesus Christ. In life no one is an island what we say and do effects others for better or for worse. Pray everyday that God will guide us in all that we do. If we are wronged, focus not on the one who wronged us, but on the One who can heal and save us.
In the Hebrew times, women had great value, and no power, not because God took it, but because they gave it up. Consider this article “Women in Biblical History” I see women as of equal value with men, and I can promise, our Lord Jesus does too. Sometimes we have different strengths and weaknesses in our stereotypical gender roles, but certainly neither being inferior for our Job. We encourage women to teach in our schools and discourage their teaching in church. Skilled women teaching in the schools and unskilled men teaching in church. To me, that is a head scratch. Karen was right to ask the question of Gender roles then and now, but her conclusion, made me feel sad. Here is where I believe the Christian church by and large stands today. This too is a long road, presenting a lot of debate with real consequences for all the stake holders.
Biblical World View and The United States today
In our country, which was designed to be a democratic republic, where we the people democratically elect our leaders to represent our nation as a whole. Our leaders make laws which are based on the Judeo Christian Ethic, and run our nation using their best wisdom. We the people do not get to vote on every law at the federal level, these elected officials are responsible for representing the people as a collective group. Since there are millions of people all with varying ideas of the ideal, will not ever be entirely pleased by the outcomes produced by our representative government. We are thus required to live in comprise. These leaders have a Constitution which delineates where the power of the Government begins and ends.
The constitution is a set of rules that guarantees our rights as citizens, set forth the rules of government operations, based on the ideals that were set forth as the inalienable rights of mankind given by God. Though our country was never designed to be a theocracy, we did believe that God had a hand in establishing our nation and its creeds. The United States has managed to stand over 200 years with the same constitution. We have the freedom of press, giving me the right to publish this blog. We have freedom of religion giving us all the right to worship, or not. We have the freedom of commerce, and freedom of self defense, among many other important freedoms. We are free to disagree, free to insult, free to be stupid, free to debate in public, and even free to protest.
Why do I stop and look at the here in now in this manner in a Blog addressing Karen’s article about bits and pieces left out of the Bible? If we lived in a monarchy, or theocracy, Karen may never be allowed to investigate these things. and quality education is what allows Karen to analyze her thoughts, and the humility to change her stances as she goes. Eradicating the bill of rights would be detrimental to the search of knowledge and wisdom. Sadly, these freedoms will surely be eradicated from our country if we do not stop and share the bits of wisdom we have with our young people.
Our top universities such as Harvard and Yale were originally designated to produce pastors, and teach God’s divinity to all. Today all public universities have a different agenda, and many private colleges have changed their views as well. Our young people are not being taught true kindness, they are taught rigid legislation of morals, they are not taught to value their nation, in fact they are taught that nationalism is the root of all evil, rather than the glue that binds the 50 sovereign nations that make up the United States.
Change in Focus of Colleges in the United States Today
Those in charge of our school systems need our prayers and the guidance of those who have the perspective of our founders. Take a peak at these articles: “How we lost the universities and how to reclaim the voice of Christ“; Is education in our country supposed to be a one sided school of thought? Don’t we learn by respectful debate? Seems that even that notion is in danger. “When Freedom and Emotions Collide on Campus“. When we teach our kids that fact is fact, only if it agrees with the political view of instructors and leaders the school has chosen. Truly factual knowledge is squelched, a new pride arises, and critical thinking suffers. This leads to many facts becoming lost on society, if one agrees with the statement “What is sane, unless sane is fact” he would see that history, evidence, and conclusions can suffer great injury, leading to collective insanity. I believe that Karen to some degree living in academia is swayed by this new academic culture.
Prophesy now and Then, Is Christ required?
Does the Bible have prophesy? Can it stand the test of time? I believe it predicted Jesus, and plan for us to join him in a land of eternal peace. How do others see the Bible and the possibility that it even has prophesy relevant to to our time and the future of the world. If we view Christ as Karen’s does, is there hope? I think this film does a great deal of good in validating the Biblical world view, by showing us how the prophesies of Daniel tie Biblical time to modern times. You can watch it free is you have amazon prime. “Kingdoms in Time“. I found this next video to be interesting, there are some interesting facts, but his prophesies in my mind are nothing but a leap of conjecture. “Presidents Policy and Prophesy“. Lastly bringing up movies of prophesy is one call the “The Trump Prophesy” Spends way too much time with a man’s PTSD then sag-ways into how his PTSD lead him to believe that God was telling him Trump would be our next president. Prophesy, coincidence leaping to further conjecture would be my position. The movie once we got out of the man’s nasty dreams I found to be uplifting in that these people love our God, and our country. All things and all claims of the works of God, must be taken and analyzed so that we can categorize them appropriately. For this man and in the eye of the Christians involved this was definitely prophesy. If provided them hope, and affirmation, the danger is what would have happened to their faith if the prophesy had not been fulfilled? True believers, would be able to deal with the dependency, others would have been forever lost. To that end we must be careful about what we tell people as revelation from God. When we hear revelation from God, we must run it through a set of proofs before accepting the message and sharing it. These proofs can be found in the book of Deuteronomy. I think Hank missed the mark on his review of the movie, if you listen to this podcast, you will find his review 19 minutes into the show. Hank missed the the movies real purpose and the point of the movie, I wondered if he even watched it. I think Liberty University was right to aid in making the movie. I am not convinced as to the prophetic value.
Salvation by Following the Teaching of Christ
Harvard Magazine is a bit off base with the Christian doctrine. Lastly I have to address Karen’s asertion, that all we need to do is follow the teachings of Jesus Christ to be saved. If this is the case, we are all doomed. No one is free from sin, no man other than Jesus has lived a blameless life, bring me a blameless man, and I will show you at least one liar. The Scribes and Pharisees were in Karen’s camp, and Jesus came to break apart that very notion. Jesus really taught nothing new. He teachings is where the rubber met the road. He extended women’s rights well beyond where Jewish culture permitted. He laid the groundwork for extending his love to the Gentiles. He did teach a lot of wonderful and very controversial things. Karen asserts that Jesus died on the cross was an unplanned side effect of his ministry. Had he been really of God, he would have not died such a death. There are millions of people who take this view point. Scripture tells us otherwise.
God did not intend for Jesus to Die
Jesus’s death on the cross was no accident, it was planned and it was deliberate. I believe God had a plan for our redemption before the fall of man. John 1:1 says Christ was there at our creation. See this article on the plan of salvation “The Messianic Thread” I would bet Christ’s death on the cross was the plan from day one. Christ states John 19:30 “It is finished” just as he dies on the cross. This was no accident! This was a man with a plan!
The ESV Study Bible comments,
“It is finished proclaims that all the work the Father had sent him to accomplish was now completed, particularly his work of bearing the penalty for sins. This means there was no more penalty left to be paid for sins, for all Jesus’ suffering was ‘finished’ (see Heb. 1:3; 9:11-12, 25-28).”
The gospel involves Jesus’ death on the cross as the sin offering to fulfill the Law’s righteous requirement (Romans 8:3–4; Hebrews 10:5–10). Under the Law, animal sacrifices were offered year after year as a reminder of sin and a symbol of the coming sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:3–4). When Christ offered Himself at Calvary, that symbol became a reality for all who would believe (Hebrews 10:11–18). The work of atonement is finished now, and that’s good news.
In the end, I suppose Karen and the General Christian church are both right. Who in their right mind would not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ? Jesus paid the final sacrifice for us, obeying him is the least we can do. It takes belief to follow Christ’s teachings.
Justification by our obeying the law of Jesus or Faith alone?
We are justified by faith, but faith without works, is dead! We cannot truly believe in Jesus if we are not willing to follow him. You can not identify as a member of the Christian faith if you deny one or the other of these facts, Grace, Belief in the final sacrifice Jesus’s teaching is a package deal.
James 2:14-26 New King James Version (NKJV)
“Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [a]your works, and I will show you my faith by [b]my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [c]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made [d]perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was [e]accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”
The purpose of this article was to look at Karen’s work from afar, and point out that the Christian faith does not support many of her assertions. Some of her assertions would actually nullify the validity of the Christian faith. She like all of us are a work in process. She has righteously formed her conclusions, most using a valid scientific method, never the less, I believe she has more study to do. Will she ever come to terms with biblical Christianity? Hard to say, I hope so, because I believe she will not partake in eternity with Christ with out belief in his grace. All sin(Not following God’s Biblical laws and the law of love) little or big has the same wage, we will receive death. Satan wants us all destroyed with him. Christ sacrifice makes up for where our best efforts fall short. Karen is right in Christ calling on all of us to be kind and gentle. This is hard to do when we are questioned and abused by the world, and from those within our fold.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40)
What is the meaning of being a Christian anyway? Here is an awesome movie Rendition of allegory written from a prison cell in 1600 AD -John Bunyon’s “The Pilgrims Progress” it is amazingly insightful and so true even today.
The take away from this blog is our Anchor, and Commander and chief. We can’t always know why what is happening today is happening. We can’t trust our doubts, fears, and the actions of others. Our faith and duty is in Christ alone. We are not to be casualties of what has been done to us in the past. Our past emotional traumas do not reflect the ultimate will of God. Our wants and desires need to be thought out in terms of Christ, and weighed against the greater good of his people. We are all in this together, and in many ways we are like children trying to educate each other on what we have not seen nor heard. We must trust and obey, while educating ourselves in a way that uplifts our Creator, Lord, Friend and Savior. We are called to love and accept everyone as God brings them to us. We are not called to endorse wrong or enforce right as that is the job of Jesus Christ. We are commissioned to love, and lift up Christ in all things.
Have a good evening and a good night….
Further study on the Bible’s authenticity, contradictions and other interesting issues: