Some Christians believe that each and every word in the Bible is literally true and without error. Even though I did not believe in a literal Bible I belonged to one of those churches at one time. I often asked embarrassing questions during our weekly bible study. Questions the clergy leader really didn’t care to try to answer. Asking those questions is probably one of the reasons they tossed me out.
I never got to ask the question in the title of this post but I would be very interested in knowing how they might answer it. According to the biblical account Adam & Eve were the first humans. They had a lengthy relationship with God before they obtained the “knowledge of good and evil”. Some of their conversations seemed quite deep indeed.
Of course those who take Adam and Eve account as being literally true must then deny the existence of cave men, cave writing, ancient artifacts, and other forms of early man. They even insist that the earth itself is only about six thousand years old! They must say all that evidence discounting their beliefs is either outright fraud on the part of our scientists or just God trying to trick us. They go to extreme lengths to hang on to their literal and inerrant stands. I do feel sorry for those who must deny so much of our history and archeological evidence. They have a hard time reckoning their version of history with established evidence. To that end most seem to treat science as an enemy of religion instead of being a God given tool to mankind.
But more sadly they spend so much time trying to justify their interpretations that they miss out on so much that the Lord tries to teach them in this day and age. And of course in their stubborn insistence in literal stories they turn many away from learning about their creator. The Bible has much to teach us about God and how he wants us to love him and love every one of our neighbors. It is a shame they don’t concentrate of the overall message and let some of the early biblical stories just be stories that teach us lessons about life.
Getting back to the original question, I would guess that the literalist’s answer to my question would be that they spoke some form of Greek or Aramaic.
I have had a Sojourners membership for a number of years now and enjoy the monthly magazine. One reason is that it shows me that I am not alone out there in believing what I do about Christianity. Jim Wallis, who is the editor-in-chief of the magazine always has an editorial at the beginning of each issue. This month is was about how the word “evangelical” means to the world in general. In the editorial Jim opens with the following words:
Here we go again. Presidential elections are coming, and the role of ‘evangelicals’ is predictably becoming a hot political story. Voices on both the Religious Right and secular Left describe evangelicals as zealous members of the ultra-conservative political base.
Why? Perhaps because some conservative Republicans want to claim a religious legitimacy and constituency for their ideological agenda, and some political liberals seem determined to portray religious people as intellectually flawed, right-wing crazies with dangerous plans for the country.
He goes on to say that while there are evangelicals as described above they do not define the overall evangelical community. He has been stating this view for many years. But from a personal experience I, like many others in this world, have trouble getting the secular view of evangelicals out of my head. For a couple of decades I was a member of an evangelical church and for the most part the majority of its members held radical right political beliefs. I always felt like the odd-man-out in our weekly bible studies especially when the discussions turned political in nature. It seems to me that the “social conservative” values of the these right wing political groups runs very counter to what I read in my bible? I knew a few others in those studies felt as I did about being my brother’s keeper and doing good works but for the most part they sat silently while the majority, among many other topics, ranted about personal responsibility and those lazy “freeloaders” who just need to get a job.
So, while I want to believe what Jim says I just saw very little evidence of it in the Christian world immediately around me. This is one of the reasons I have divorced myself from that group and no longer call myself a Christian but instead say I am just a follower of Jesus Christ. I seem to be more attuned around the following message by Susan Isaacs (her message here also came from another Sojourners source)
While I may detect a difference between “evangelical Christian” (theological connotation) and “evangelical” (political connotation), a person outside the faith may not. Tell an agnostic you’re an evangelical — meaning you believe in the words of the Apostle’s creed — and he may assume you’re anti-gay, anti-Obama and pro-British Petroleum….I don’t know if we’ll ever divest “evangelical” of its political connotation. We might have to ban the word the way Germany outlawed Hitler as a surname. Which is sad, because the Greek root, evangel, means “good news.” – Susan Isaacs
I like Susan think maybe it is time to ban using the word “evangelical” in a theological mode. It has just been too polluted by the political sphere and that is a terrible shame as the word actually means “good news”. The words “evangelical” and “Christian” just don’t seem to mix together anymore. They are like oil and vinegar.