Friday, May 28, 2010

The Word of God

There is a question that has often gone through my mind: What exactly *is* the Word of God? People answer this question for themselves everytime they speak the phrase, and it has been interesting to me to hear different people's interpretations.

Many people today equate the Bible with the Word of God. In fact, in my Thompson Chain Reference Bible, there is a subject heading in the back entitled "The Bible, The Word of God: Called, The Scriptures, The Law, etc." It then gives many references to places in the Bible that mention the words of God.

The problem I see with this interpretation is that people are so used to calling the Bible the Word of God, that there is no room for any other thought with regard to it. You can read it, study it, memorise it, quote it, meditate on it, love it, cherish it, but all the while you have a physical book in mind. What happens, I think, is that people limit God to what is written in the Bible. The reformation's slogan of "Scripture Alone!" seems to suggest that this idea was in full acceptance back in the sixteenth century.

Another problem is that if the Bible alone is the Word of God, then what are those passages in the Old Testament talking about?

"For ever, O Lord, the Bible is settled in heaven."

"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the Bible shall stand for ever."

One might argue that these old testament writers were referring to the law of Moses, which, is part of the Bible.

If that's the case, then how can we make sense out of what Job says?

"Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the Law of Moses more than my necessary food."

The problem with this is that Job didn't have the Law of Moses. What Job really says is "words of his mouth". What exactly is he talking about?

Another thought of what the Word of God means is taken from the New Testament.

"In the beginnning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Taken from the Bible, this passage equates the Word of God with Christ Himself. This is a much better thought, I think, because the equivalence is explicitly stated.

"And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God...And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

I see, therefore, no issues with calling the Son of God, the Word of God. It is the truth.

A seeming problem begins when we apply that to old testament passages. Did the old testament writers actually mean Jesus? Is that whom they are referring to? It could be. I am not arguing against that interpretation, however, what are we to do with the following verse in Psalm 105, speaking about Joseph in prison:

"He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him."

To build an entire teaching around one verse is not something I like to do. My question is this though: shouldn't there be some common theme in all these instances of the Word of God? We have the Bible, Christ, the Law of Moses, and, now, what seems to be the trials of Joseph in prison.

My thought is that the commonality is this: the revelation of God to man. Whenever God reveals something of Himself to men, that is His Word. It is true, it is tried, it tests men, and it speaks of Christ.

Surely, the Bible is a revelation of God to man. The Law of Moses was a revelation of God to man, the trials that we go through, though, are they the revelation of God to man? I would say 'yes' to that, for if trials are sent our way to change our hearts, to shape us, to test us, to bring us closer to the way we ought to be, what else can that be but a revelation of God? I have come to greatly appreciate and desire the revelation that comes after I am gone through a trial. God is forever teaching us through the trials He sends our way.

Okay, if the Word of God is the revelation of God to Man, then what else can we call Christ? He was, and still is, the *perfect* revelation of God to us. As part of the Godhead, Christ in His very existence is God's revelation to us on Earth. Not only did He teach us what is right, but what better way can we discover the heart of God, than by looking upon His Son.

God's word is not some stagnant, set-in place words in a book only. His revelation still comes to us if we are willing to listen. Anything He reveals to us today is His word, and will stand forever.

These are my thoughts. God's Word is not something that can be wholly caught and bound up in a book, but is infinitely much greater than that.

I remember listening to a preacher once, who said that he thought heaven was going to be one long Bible study. We would sit at the throne of God, who would be holding a Bible, and God would say to us, "Here, let me show you something in here that you've never seen before." I think this man limits God's Word, much to his hinderance. God is infinite, and therefore the entirety of His Word is infinite.

I feel a lot more comfortable calling Jesus Himself, the Word of God. He is the perfect revelation of God to man. The other, lesser revelations (if you can call them that) are also God's Word, but to get at the true meaning of the phrase, I think we do best by seeing Jesus Christ as the true Word of God, like scripture actually says.

May the Lord bless you all!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Kingdom of God

One of my part-time hobbies is reading the translator's preface and introductions of every English translation of the Bible I can get my hands on, so it was no strange occurrence that I found myself reading the "Introductory Note" of the Kleist-Lilly version of the New Testament last week.

Reverend James A. Kleist made it his life's work to to understand ancient Greek and to translate many of the early Christian writings into English. As the culmination of his work, he produced a translation of the gospels that would allow the Catholics of America to better understand what Jesus said than what the Rheims-Douay version offered them. His exact words were that he wanted to provide "an immediate or preliminary understanding of obscure words or passages."

Sounds noble. The problem is that along with Mr. Kleist, about two hundred other eager people wanted to do the same thing. And they none can agree with one another. But that's a discussion for another time.

One quotation I came across while reading the "Introductory Note to the Gospels" was the following seemingly innocent sentence:

"The Gospels are but fragmentary records of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. St. Matthew's account is fullest in details; yet a comparison shows that he omitted much that is told by the other writers. St. Luke states (Acts 1:3) that after the Resurrection, Jesus spoke to the disciples about 'the kingdom of God,' that is, the Church; but he does not satisfy our curiosity regarding the content of these conversations. As to St. Mark, the fragmentary character of his narrative is at once evident, and we happen to know from Papias, the bishop of Hierapolis, that the disciples of St. John were painfully aware of this 'shortcoming' of the Second Gospel."

One of the things I've come to understand more during my stay here in Tasmania is the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God? Is it, as James Kleist has told us, the Church? A few months ago I might not have caught the glaring limitation of the definition of the kingdom of God that Kleist gives us. I don't know how many Christians would.

I read the book of Ezekiel last week. God blessed Ezekiel with a vision of some terrifying creatures.

"The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning."

We read also in Revelation about some more creatures that are around the throne of God:

"And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

These lengthy excerpts detail a different sort of creature than us humans. I've no doubt in my mind that these creatures exist. God, in all His wisdom, did not create just us humans. And he didn't create just angels, either. No, God has created all things in this universe, and all for His good pleasure. The kingdom of God is all that falls under His rule. The trees, birds, rocks, squid, planets, and stars are all part of His kingdom. He rules them all.

Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System, has, under its thick layers of cloud, a deep planet-wide ocean of liquid hydrogen. Somewhere at the bottom of this ocean is the crust of the planet. There, deep in the recesses of the giant planet, where liquid hydrogen meets rocky crust, the kingdom of God is present, in its full force.

Wherever God reigns, that is where His kingdom is.

Makes us seem tiny, doesn't it?

I remember a scene from a Star Trek movie I saw a long time ago. Some of the characters travelled back it time to the point in history when some aliens were supposed to make first contact with humans. The discussion of the consequences of that meeting has always caused me to think:

RIKER: Doctor, tomorrow morning when they detect the warp signature from your ship and realise that humans have discovered how to travel faster than light, they decide to alter their course and make first contact with Earth, right here.
LAFORGE: Sir, it's actually over there.
RIKER: It is one of the pivotal moments in human history, Doctor. You get to make first contact with an alien race, and after you do, everything begins to change.
LAFORGE: Your theories on warp drive allow fleets of starships to be built and mankind to start exploring the Galaxy.
TROI: It unites humanity in a way no one ever thought possible when they realise they're not alone in the universe. Poverty, disease, war. They'll all be gone within the next fifty years.

Knowing that humans are not alone in the universe unites humanity in a way no one ever thought possible. I have often been overwhelmed with the realization that we humans are not alone in the universe. Angels, arch-angels, cheribum, seraphim, strange four-faced creatures, and who knows all what else exist very much in real time worshipping the living God, their creator. The same creator who created us. That thought makes me feel closer to my brothers and sisters, and all the rest of humanity as well. The knowledge that there are other sentient creatures that exist, and God rules them all.

The kingdom of God is...the Church? Us? Well, the sun, planets, and all the stars do rotate around us everyday. We are the centre of the universe, so, yeah, okay.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Picture This

Okay, so here's a picture of what used to be my house before we sold it and moved to Tasmania:

Nice. Here's a view of the top part of the back of my house before we sold it and moved to Tasmania:

Beautiful. Here's a picture of us driving our van down Sargent Avenue a few months ago:

Isn't that wonderful? What's even more "wonderful" is that I didn't even have to take any of these pictures myself, nor did I even have to arrange to have them taken.

Google did it for me.

"Unnecessary" is the word that comes to mind.

"Google commissioned by..." is a sentence I would like to know the entirety of.

I am sure there are more than seventeen conspiracy theories as to why Google would spend the money taking pictures of the view as you drive down McMicken St in Winnipeg, and I am also sure that many of these involve governments of the world and a dissolution of all that is private.

There are, no doubt, people trying to take over the world, but as to Google's involvement, I cannot be certain.

Even if it were so, there is a God in heaven of whom it is written:

"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure."

If we are scared of how much Google can see, then let us be reminded as to how much God can see. He can see all that Google sees, but he also can see into the very depths of our heart. The place where our motives lie. Let us be sober-minded about how we spend our time, what we see and what we hear.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Comments Should Now Work

Hi, folks! Apparently some of you have had some difficulty commenting on my blogs. That is the second weirdest thing I have ever heard. The first weirdest thing was that some of you want to comment.

Well, I think I fixed the issue, so, you may go ahead now and surprise me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Whaddaya Know? Einsten *Was* Wrong

One of the more interesting theories to be developed in the twentieth century was the theory of relativity. When Einstein first proposed it many thought he was crazy. Over the years it has come to be accepted as fact. I have disproven it. The flawless argument proceeds as follows:

1. According to the theory of relativity, anything that has mass cannot travel the speed of light, nor exceed it.

2. If it can be shown, therefore, that an object with mass could travel faster than the speed of light, the theory of relativity would be shown to be absolutely false.

3. Analog Clocks can be created.

4. An analog clock is a circle, and the second hand is the length of the radius of the circle. The distance the very tip of the second hand travels is the circumference of the circle, which of course is a function of the length of the second hand itself.

5. The formula for the circumference of the circle is 2&pi r, with r being the length of the second hand.

6. The tip of the second hand travels the circumference of the circle in exactly one minute.

7. Since analog clock can be created, create one with a second hand that is 3 billion meters long. The distance it travels is therefore 2 * 3.1415926535897932 * 3,000,000,000 = 18,849,555,921.5 meters. It does this is one minute. Since there are 60 seconds in one minute, we can get the number of meters per second the tip of the second hand is travelling by dividing by 60.

8. 18,849,555,921.5 / 60 = 314,159,265.359 meters per second.

9. The speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second.

10. The second hand on an analog clock has mass.

10. Therefore by the truth of point number 2, the theory of relativity is completely false.

It's too bad the theory has been believed up until this point, when it is so easy to disprove. It's a good thing this blog has enough room to contain it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Purest, Most Noble of Emotions

I have a lot of time to think while I pull weeds out of garden beds these days, and today my thoughts turned towards the subject of greed. What is the first thought that goes through somebody's head when they see a person acting greedy? Here at Rocky Cape we have two pigs that get fed old bread and table scraps, and when we arrive with the bucket of slop, the pigs go nuts because they know they will soon be eating. They seemingly cannot wait the few seconds it will take me to carry the bucket over to their feeding pan. They want their food NOW! When the slop gets poured into the bucket, the larger of the two pigs eats first as much as she can, then the smaller pig gets to eat the leftovers. If there is anything more disgusting than pig slop it's pig slop leftovers. The interesting thing is, though, nobody judges the large pig's behaviour. It is the way of pigs.

Darwinists would have us believe that over the process of about two million years, a ground-dwelling ape-like creature turned into humans by a process known as natural selection, the idea that only those individuals who are the most fit will survive to produce offspring, and those individuals who are least fit will die off, leaving no mark of their ever having been born except for those lucky enough to have their skeletons fossilized. This is what is observed in groups of animals, so the natural thought for the humanist is to assume that's what has happened with humans in the past.

But wait! If that is really how we arrived on this planet, then why are each of us imbued with a complete set of morals?

An example will suffice:

There was an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 that featured a creature known as a ferengi whose name was Quark, and his brother, Rom. The ferengi are a race of sentient beings that apparently spend their lives trying to acquire as many riches as they can before they die. The Star Trek writers would usually focus on the ferengi when a slightly more humourous episode was needed, or as comic-relief as a sub-plot to a very serious episode. There was one episode in which the leader of the ferengi had his behaviour altered by a higher race of aliens, which made him quite charitable instead of greedy. In one scene, Rom and Quark had the following conversation:

Rom: "'s time for the Ferengi to move beyond greed."
Quark: "Beyond Greed? There's nothing 'beyond greed!' Greed is the purest, most noble of emotions!"

To which everyone watching laughs.

Why do we laugh? Because we are seeing some beings that are the complete opposite of ourselves. We laugh because in reality this is the opposite of what everybody in the world knows to be the truth. What is the opposite of greed? Selflessness. Everybody inherently knows that there is nothing beyond selflessness. Selflessness is the purest most noble of emotions.

Selflessness is to not seek one's own needs, but rather the needs of others. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that Love seeks not her own. True selflessness comes from love. And the world over knows it. Everybody you meet will understand that it's better to love than to hate. Sometimes it's very deep, but everybody knows it to some extent.

And when I think about selflessness, the person who comes to mind first is the man from Galilee, sent by God the Father, to take away the sins of the world, by becoming sin for us, and allowing himself to be humbled by death, even death on a cross.

The creator of all things gave himself for us. We are asked to do the same. Act in love towards all people. That is the purest, most noble of emotions. But love is much more than just an emotion. It is a way of life.

Do we love the folks around us? Are we mirroring that love that Jesus displayed when he took on himself our sins and was punished for it, Him who did no wrong at all?

I fear I get greedy sometimes. First it's me, then it's my neighbour. We have to change that to be: First it's my neighbour, then it's my other neighbour.

I have a long way to go.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do You Want to Die?

I have been reading the ante-nicene fathers lately, and while reading I came upon a fellow who has some pretty intense words for the Ephesians to read:

"For it is not my desire to act towards you as a man-pleaser, but as pleasing God, even as also ye please Him. For neither shall I ever have such [another] opportunity of attaining to God; nor will ye, if ye shall now be silent, ever be entitled to the honour of a better work. For if ye are silent concerning me, I shall become God’s; but if you show your love to my flesh, I shall again have to run my race. Pray, then, do not seek to confer any greater favour upon me than that I be sacrificed to God while the altar is still prepared; that, being gathered together in love, ye may sing praise to the Father, through Christ Jesus, that God has deemed me, the bishop of Syria, worthy to be sent for from the east unto the west. It is good to set from the world unto God, that I may rise again to Him."

"May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me; and I pray they may be found eager to rush upon me, which also I will entice to devour me speedily, and not deal with me as with some, whom, out of fear, they have not touched. But if they be unwilling to assail me, I will compel them to do so. Pardon me [in this]: I know what is for my benefit. Now I begin to be a disciple. And let no one, of things visible or invisible, envy me that I should attain to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocations of bones; let cutting off of members; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the dreadful torments of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ."

"All the pleasures of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing. It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth. “For what shall a man be profited, if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?” Him I seek, who died for us: Him I desire, who rose again for our sake. This is the gain which is laid up for me. Pardon me, brethren: do not hinder me from living, do not wish to keep me in a state of death; and while I desire to belong to God, do not ye give me over to the world. Suffer me to obtain pure light: when I have gone thither, I shall indeed be a man of God. Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of my God. If any one has Him within himself, let him consider what I desire, and let him have sympathy with me, as knowing how I am straitened."

"Do not speak of Jesus Christ, and yet set your desires on the world. Let not envy find a dwelling-place among you; nor even should I, when present with you, exhort you to it, be ye persuaded to listen to me, but rather give credit to those things which I now write to you. For though I am alive while I write to you, yet I am eager to die. My love has been crucified, and there is no fire in me desiring to be fed; but there is within me a water that liveth and speaketh, saying to me inwardly, Come to the Father. I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life."


Who was this man? His name was Ignatius and he lived from about A.D. 30 - 107, and there is a (possibly untrue) tradition that states that he was the young child that Jesus picked out of the crowd and placed before His apostles in Matthew 18:2. He was the bishop of Smyrna and he wrote several letters, and this excerpt from his letter to the Ephesians details quite nicely where his thoughts lie most of the time.

How can a man so long for death that he would compel wild beasts to devour him? He was so in love with the Father that he it was his only goal in life to become a martyr. Why? How can someone think that way?

Maybe he realized what this life is all about. That it is but a short stepping stone to eternity. He was utterly convinced in what he believed, and it drove him to near insanity: at least that's what most people today would call it. Imagine longing for death? Wanting to get eaten by wild beasts for the masses to enjoy?

Doesn't he know that God wants us to be happy and safe, and free from all forms of suffering? We're His children and he wants us to "have our best life now".

Boy, too bad Ignatius lived way back then and only had the apostles of Christ to learn from. Good thing we have "proper" theologians today who teach us what a Christian really ought to do and to think.

Poor Ignatius.

(Note: the preceding blog entry used an immense amount of verbal irony)