HealingRooms

The Bible – Pt. 1

The Bible is considered to be the greatest selling book of all time. It can be read in under a year by spending just 20 minutes a day covering its pages. It has often been banned by dictatorial governments throughout the world. Missionaries to this day smuggle it into countries where they believe its truth will change hearts, minds, and whole societies. Many churches still sing the song “The B-I-B-L-E, that’s the book for me.” More recently (although not totally accurate), it has been described as “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” Despite the fan-fair, a lot of questions about the Bible exist.

A Problem

In my ‘trade,’ I find that the Bible is open to misunderstanding, on two fronts. The first front regards the Bible as a document itself. The second front is if we can adequately understand the text. The thrust of the first question has to do with history. The thrust of the second question is about consistency, linguistics, and context.

The first ‘front’ must be met head on for readers to even think the book has import for the 21st century. The second question must be ‘saddled’ well, lest we fall off the interpretive horse and create injured communities following quirky ideas. Each question has good, long, and sophisticated answers. Each question spawns dozens more.

Getting to Know the Bible

Before getting into either question above, we should discuss what the Bible is in the first place. The word “bible” means “book.” In the case of the Christian “Bible,” it means the book which contains the sacred writings of the people of God throughout the centuries. The whole thing contains 66 books which consist in various forms. The forms include letter writing, historical recording, songs, wisdom sayings, erotic poetry, rhetorical pieces, narratives, prophecy, apocalyptic writings, and more. Depending on the size of the font, the Bible contains about 1,000 pages.

Although the Bible contains a diverse group of literature, there tends to be one clear focus. The centerpiece is how God has revealed himself to his people through the centuries, especially as Jesus Christ of Nazareth some 2,000 years ago. The oldest parts point forward to the coming Savior and the more recent parts expound and explain the Savior.

The first book of the Bible is Genesis which is about the beginning of times and the last book of the Bible is Revelation which focuses on the end of times. The earliest portions began to be written about 1400B.C. Some of the content, within the oldest parts, dates much earlier. The last book of the Bible was written around 96A.D. Cover to cover spans 1,500 years of authorship.

Well, that’s enough for today. Over the next couple months, we will peel away the binding on the Bible and see how well it holds. Until then, perhaps the best place to begin with learning about the Bible is…well, the Bible.

 

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What should we believe?

When examining the historic biblical Christian faith, there is no better place to start than with what C.S. Lewis called “Mere Christianity.” Mere Christianity is that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.” What beliefs have Christians always held for 2,000 years? Well, here they are…

  1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
  2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
  3. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary:
  4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died and buried: He descended to the dead:
  5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
  6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
  7. From there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
  8. I believe in the Holy Spirit
  9. The holy catholic (Christian) church: The communion of the saints:
  10. The forgiveness of sins:
  11. The resurrection of the body:
  12. And life everlasting. Amen

The universal church has spoken that these are their beliefs. And I say, “Mine too!”

You might say, “Well Isaac, where is the statement on the Bible in the Creed?” My answer is that the Creed assumes a very high view of the Scriptures. The Creed’s teachings are in the Bible. However, for clarity sake, here is my view.

My view of the Bible, as well as that of the historical Christian church, is that just as Jesus Christ is both truly God and truly Man, the Bible is both truly the product of God and of man. I wholeheartedly believe in the inspiration of all Scripture.

Approach

Although Christians have the freedom to approach culture in varying ways I go with an ancient model. There are other avenues to get people thinking about God than using the Bible alone. Things like logic and evidence are common tools between the society and the Church.

My approach is the same as the Apostle Paul’s, “I become all things to all people so that I might by all means save everyone” (1 Corinthians 9:22). To the Jews Paul used the Old Testament (Acts 17:2-3), to the Greeks Paul used Greek literature (Acts 17:23, 28), to the Romans Paul used Roman categories of speech (Acts 26). As Christians, our approach is benefited by remembering who we are trying to reach.

Not only am I following the example of the great Apostle Paul, I am living the command from the Apostle Peter who told all Christians to “Be prepared to give an answer/defense for the hope that you have within you to everyone who asks you for the reason” (1 Peter 3:15).  Peter never said, “Quote Scripture till they are converted.” Instead, he told us to provide an answer.

That is what I am doing. I hope more follow in his footsteps (See 1 Corinthians 11:1).

 

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Science and Faith Pt. 2

 

Photo Credit https://natashabou.com/

In reference to ‘science and faith’ we learn two very important things from the ancient creeds (getting to them below). The Creeds represent the universally agreed upon doctrines of the church. These beliefs are rooted in the apostle’s doctrine and expounded in the centuries to follow in creedal like statements. These ‘creeds’ are helpful guides for staying true to the ancient faith.

Here is what the Apostles and Nicene Creeds say on ‘creation.’

Apostles Creed “I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth.”

Nicene Creed “I believe in one God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

One thing we learn is positive and the other is negative.

1. Positive – God created everything, both see and unseen.

2. Negative – We are not told ‘how’ he created it.

The historical church of Jesus Christ, that church which brought forth and canonized our Bible, laid down the lines for necessity and freedom. The necessity for Christian believers is believing that God did in fact do the creating. Christians are free to come to their own conclusions as to ‘how’ God did the creating.

Some people may question why the Creeds did not mandate a particular view of ‘how’ God created the heavens and the earth. However, studying the history of the both the church and ancient Israel, there has been universal disagreement on ‘how’ God did the creating. Thus, if the historical church allowed freedom on the issue, why can’t we?

There is an ancient phrase which seems to apply here. On Essentials Unity, Non-Essentials Liberty, and in All Things Charity. The ancient church saw that it was essential to believers that God created all things and at the same time allowed liberty to Christians as to how they thought God chose to do the creating.

Click here for science and faith part http://livingwaterflows.com/2017/02/08/science-and-faith-pt-1/

-Pastor Isaac

 

 

 

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The Problem of Prejudice

Prejudice is a bad thing. Most people should agree on that. However, the problem is a problem of awareness. We are not totally aware of our own prejudices. There are ways of overcoming this. Tests which weigh our individual perceptions may help. Self-reflection is a very powerful tool as well. The reason we need to all reflect on our views and perceptions is that it is very easy to deceive ourselves. We have great motivation to make sure we are correct about something. Oh the horror when we discover something we are wrong about!

Recently I was chatting with someone. He had pointed out the many prejudices in the contacts that he had. There was several examples of racism in some of the people he encounters. He mentioned how he also had contacts that were prejudiced over the issues that relate to homosexuality. I can only take him at his word. These were his stories and not mine. What we agreed on was that prejudice does exist and is a problem in our world. We covered many more issues and although I typically enjoy a good discussion on ‘the issues’ the point of the meeting was different. I therefore avoided taking any of the ‘baits’ presented.

However, near the end of our time together this kind person exposed one of his own preconceived opinions that was not based on evidence. He made a comment about a political leader ( I will call him/her Political Leader A) who was celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This political leader was supposedly nodding his head during the celebration in agreement with the various speakers. The man I was meeting with could not believe that Political Leader A could in fact support ‘equal rights’ or join in that heritage. In other words, the ‘head nodding’ was fake.

I then commented that Political Leader A’s heritage was Christian. My point was that Political Leader A actually stood for good principles, especially when it came to race. Political Leader A is actually someone I have met, is a Christian, and a champion for the most basic right of our society. Especially for all of us these days, the temptation to be prejudiced toward political leaders who are on the ‘other side’ is quite powerful.

My reasons for pointing this out is that 1) We all need to be aware of our prejudices and work to give them up. 2) That prejudice is a double edged sword. It can cut both ways. 3) That all of our beliefs need better warrant than a simple opinion with no evidence. One of our responsibility’s should be to make sure we have more correct beliefs than false ones.

Have a good day everyone…I am off to do a little self-reflection. 🙂

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Science and Faith – Pt. 1

Phot Credit : Natasha Bouchette at https://natashabou.com/

In my Christian life there have been numerous topics that come up for discussion. One of the most brought up, questioned, and wondered about topics that I have participated in with others has been ‘science and faith.’ There are all sorts of questions that relate to this discussion.

In the last year I have sat down with many students and processed the questions together. My goal has been to help them to see how the two streams of faith and science may go together. Moreover, my litmus test on these subjects doctrinally speaking is “What has the church taught through the centuries?” If the church has had some major focus points of agreement, we should hold to that agreement. Moreover, if the church has allowed freedom to think what we want about certain matters, then we should also allow that freedom.

After processing the questions about science and faith, the comments that I receive typically go like this, “I was not sure if my brain could ever come to harmony on these topics” or “I am just so happy that God himself could encourage me in the sciences.” Each of these conversations were from students who love God but also love science. The church needs to do a better job about having open and honest conversations about science and faith. We need to encourage young people in the sciences.

Recently, I was at a conference where there were three scientists who received their PHD’s and are working in various fields. Each of them loved science and I found out later that each of them loved God. They were Christians. I think we need to continually highlight examples like these three women. We need to give our young people a chance to meet them and hear from them and others, so that they can know that Christians have a lot to offer the sciences and science has a lot to offer humanity.

Perhaps one good starting place for Christians is to get immersed in what Genesis would have meant when it was first written near the time of Moses 3500 years ago. Here is a good video that can be our starting point.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQI72THyO5I&t=72s

-Pastor Isaac

 

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Animated Movies and Zootopia

                I enjoy watching animated movies for several reasons. First, I enjoy technology. Animated movies take good sized teams of people with cutting edge equipment. They literally have computer farms to process all of the data the animators create. Second, I enjoy them because of the story’s they tell. Animation has the power of translating us into totally new (and old) environments to create their setting. Totally new characters can arise (just think of the Minions!).

                There are certainly some things to avoid in the entertainment industry these days. I however (in this blog) want to focus on the powerful themes that communities can interact with by watching, listening and then conversing about. My favorite animated film of 2016 was Zootopia (Albeit I am a little behind in my viewing of movies). Having a chance to witness this little Bunny (Judy Hopps) fight for her place in society is compelling. Perhaps all of us can relate to wanting to make our mark on the world and then being surprised as to how big the world really is…?

                Risk, friendship, deception, equality, and much more are all addressed in this movie. It is not my position that everything in every movie is good. However, it is my position that what we do get a chance to see, we can find bits, pieces, or even blocks where we can build positive or challenging conversations out of. Let’s take another look at Zootopia.

In the movie the Bunny has to take risks in order to succeed. There are times when she seriously fails (sound like life?).  Moreover, even when the main character does succeed at becoming a Police Officer, she is not really living the dream. She is a meter maid. This is disheartening despite her parent’s gladness for the safe position. Even more, she experiences a little discrimination. She is a bunny. There are no bunny Police Officers on the force. The existing force does not even act like she is there at first. She is marginalized.

Yet the film goes even deeper. On one level it truly tries to triumph the idea that living together, with all of our diversity is better than the opposite. And, at the same time it does not deny the depths of the problem exist within ‘the species’ themselves. The Mayor, who is a Lion, covers up his operations, which are actually trying to solve the city’s problems (great time for a conversation on ‘does the end justify the means.’). The Assistant Mayor, who is one of the marginalized, a small sheep, is actually behind the evil plot to destroy the ‘strong animals’ to begin with. Will the main character ‘do right’ even if doing wrong may help her position in society?

                We could go on with more diverse themes. Her foxy friend’s heart change, the time off from police work to search her soul, and much more. My point in all of this is not necessarily to get you to watch a particular movie. Rather, the point is to highlight that movies, in this case animated ones, can have the power to address difficult life topics that touch both the heart in the mind.

                Next time you are at the movies, let it be ‘mind growing’ rather than ‘mind numbing.’  

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”