Don’t Take It Literally….

There are many today who believe that all of the Bible must be taken as absolutely happening and the stories are without the possibility of error. But this is not the case with many of us follower of Jesus.. Several of the early fathers of the church warned against taking things literally. One of those was Origen.

Here is a quote from People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diane Butler Bass from him:

The problem with literalism began, according to Origen, in Genesis: Who is found so ignorant as to suppose that God, as if He had been a husbandman, planted trees in paradise, in Eden towards the east, and a tree of life in it, i.e., a visible and palpable tree of wood, so that anyone eating of it with bodily teeth should obtain life, and, eating again of another tree, should come to the knowledge of good and evil? No one, I think, can doubt that the statement that God walked in the afternoon in paradise, and that Adam lay hid under a tree, is related figuratively in Scripture, that some mystical meaning may be indicated by it.

It is clear that Origen was saying that the Genesis story is simply a story to relay a message and should be taken figuratively only.  For those who might want more info about Origen you can see that at my post From Saint to Heretic to Saint Again .  Origen tells us that it is just too simplistic to believe that eating an apple gives one the knowledge of good and evil.

One of the problems with many churches today is that they have boxed themselves into such a corner by their literal interpretations that the only way thing they can do is to deny established science or just plain common sense when it contradicts biblical stories.

Here is another quote from the book cited above to explain what is happening today:

Jesus fascinates millions, but Christianity, the religion that began with Jesus, leaves countless people cold. What happened after Jesus—oppression, heresy trials, schisms, inquisitions, witch hunts, pogroms, and religious wars—witnesses to much human ambition and cruelty. The things people do in Jesus’s name often contradict his teachings. From Constantine to Christendom to the Christian Right, “after Jesus” can be remarkably depressing for thoughtful and sensitive souls. This dismal historical record surely was not what Jesus intended as he preached a merciful kingdom based on the transformative power of God’s love. 

This “dismal historical record” as the author mentions is man-made often as a result of personal power struggles. It is definitely not what Jesus intended. We need to wrestle back the true messages of Jesus so that those who are still fascinated with him can hear the true story about him.

That is what the emergent church is all about.

Genesis One – A book review


With this post I am reviewing a book named Genesis One – A Scientific Perspective by Hugh Ross. Hugh Ross is a noted astronomer and the founder of Reasons to Believe which is a foundation dedicated to reconciling the Bible with scientific findings. This short 34 page book goes line by line through Genesis 1 – 17 and shows how each passage is backed up by scientific findings.

The knowledge that Mr. Ross has regarding the meanings of the original Aramaic and Greek words adds great insight to this findings. I will not be covering each text that was discussed in the book. I will leave that up to you. I did want to include one paragraph about how human history begins:

DNA analysis can now test the Bible’s claim that humanity is descended from one couple living approximately 50,000 years ago. We all get our mitochondrial DNA from our mothers. All men get their Y-chromosome DNA from their fathers. Mitochondrial DNA studies confirm that the human species is traceable back to a single woman who lived 50,000 years ago (taking into account that 10 to 20 percent of the population inherits two types of mitochondrial DNA and less than 1 percent three types). Y-chromosome DNA studies confirm that the human species is traceable back to a single man who lived between 40,000 and 60,000 years ago.

DNA recovered from a dozen Neanderthal species eliminates Neanderthal as a possible ancestor for humanity. It also shows that Neanderthals as a species experienced little if any change with respect to time. Similarly, DNA recovered from human species that date back more than 20,000 years show little, if any, change with respect to time in the human species.

Later in this topic author makes the following statement.

The evidence available today is staggering both in quantity and quality. For the first time in history, science confirms every creation event – and its sequence – as described in Genesis.

 

What this tells us is that if we concede that the earth was created in seven day ages instead of seven 24 hour days then science very much aligns with biblical text. It seems that many Christians link the theory of evolution with the scientific belief of Genesis. Mr. Ross very much rejects that idea. Evolution is very much an unverified theory and has no scientific fact to back it up.

While I certainly realize that this book will not change minds of people who are totally locked into the seven 24 hour day interpretation of the bible it should at least make everyone else appreciate how well science and the Bible are intrinsically linked. We Christian should not fear God given scientific facts given to us by the Holy Spirit as we are able to understand them.