by Just Another Christian
Philologos Religious Online Books
THE GREAT DREAM
by Just Another Christian
Chapter 1 of : The Great Dream
THE DIMINISHING GROUND OF THE ABSOLUTE
|1 Peter 4:11||If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God....|
Any man who publicly presents and defends his opinions in religious matters is CLAIMING TO SPEAK FOR GOD. If a man is unwilling to PUBLICLY accept responsibility for CLAIMING TO SPEAK FOR GOD, then he should keep his OPINIONS to himself. My brethren, be not many masters (Grk. TEACHERS), knowing that WE (who present ourselves as teachers) shall receive the greater condemnation (James 3:1). Those, therefore, who will present themselves as TEACHERS, have thereby claimed EQUALITY with James, a man that God used to write one of the books of the Bible. He, therefore, who will teach his errors to other men, is in greater danger of judgement than he who keeps his errors to himself. There is no suggestion here that we must claim INERRANCY before we dare to speak for God, but that we must be ready and willing to LIVE BY and DIE FOR whatever we speak to others as God's representatives. To teach and defend what we know in our own hearts as only SURMISINGS and SPECULATIONS, is to commit the sin of the Pharisees:
|Matt.23:4||For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.|
Someone who stands in awe of your claim to SPEAK FOR GOD may very well take your advice and guide their life according to your counsel. If your teaching leads them into ruin, heresy, failure, or misery, YOU CAN BET, friend, that God will call you to account for it. You will do well to never forget that....
GOD HAS AN OPINION
|Ps.11:4||The Lord is in His Holy Temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men.|
God is NOT an OMNIPOTENT, AUTOMATED JUGGERNAUT, but is in EVERY WAY a REAL PERSON. God knows Who He is, and He knows that He is not me, or you. God knows all about us, and He has His own opinions about what we are up to. If God cannot have OPINIONS, then He is less than a man, and even less than a beast-for even a beast has likes and dislikes.
When God, therefore, expresses His OPINION to us: that is what we call THE WORD OF GOD. Whether God's OPINION is written, spoken, or discovered in any way, if it is GOD'S OPINION, then IT IS The Word of God. God LIKES and AGREES WITH some things, and God DISLIKES and DISAGREES WITH other things. You can know, therefore, that I KNOW, that GOD HAS AN OPINION. But........
|Ps.11:3||If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?|
As I began to write this book, I asked myself: Why write a book that refers to the Bible for PROOF and EVIDENCE when no one really cares about what the Bible says anymore? I know about all those people who claim to "believe in" the Bible: I DON'T BELIEVE THEM. I have been ready to discuss, debate, or argue about the Bible for 21 years. I don't think I have met even 10 professing Christians who changed their doctrine, their religious affiliations, their plans, or their lifestyles, JUST AND ONLY because they were shown "what the Bible says". In the past 3 years I haven't newly met A SINGLE PERSON who was ready to make any major changes in their life OR put themselves at any risk JUST AND ONLY because of "what the Bible says".
Theological debate is treated like A GAME WITH NO STAKES: a GAME, that is played by people who are more concerned with feeling like they won an argument than with LEARNING or PROVING any Truth. There is NO FEAR OF GOD in these people: they obviously don't believe there is a REAL GOD "out there" somewhere Who is looking in and judging the matter, and Who will eventually get around to VINDICATING SOMEBODY and REPUDIATING SOMEBODY ELSE. This apparent DELAY in the VINDICATION of the Truth has given men the courage to despise the idea of TRUTH, altogether.
|Eccl.8:11||Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.|
But, this is just another one of those Bible quotations that no one cares about anymore. Even so, for the sake of those who like to amuse themselves with theological trivia, I thought I might venture an explanation for this phenomenon-NOT THAT IT WILL MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE to you whether I am right or not, for we all know, DON'T WE? that theology is just an intellectual amusement for religious people who have a little spare time to waste. Some folks like to play chess, and some folks like to debate religion. In either case, both chess and religion have to wait until after dinner, or after the lawn is mowed, or after we have had our nap; furthermore, if you have discovered that the particularities of your religion seem to have little or no effect on the realities of YOUR life, your first priorities have to be the really important things, like accumulating money, pacifying your family, maintaining your property, and earning the praise of the men of This World (John 12:42-43). NO DOUBT.... after dinner, if your favorite television show is not on, if your car doesn't need washing, if it won't interrupt your plans for the evening, and ONLY if you are SURE that your opinions will not be challenged or contradicted: NO DOUBT...you may spare me 15 or 20 minutes to talk about religion, BUT, I had better not be too pushy about it, or demand a REASON for your opinion: for THEN you are SURE TO REMEMBER something "real important" that you simply MUST attend to immediately.
|Is.8:20||To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.|
Oops! There I go again, QUOTING THAT BIBLE, as if by doing so I will actually prove something! Besides...who knows how long we can argue about what the law is, and what the testimony is, and what "light" means. The words "subject to interpretation" must be the NATIONAL ANTHEM of Modern Christendom, for I hear them more than any other, and by reciting these 3 "magic words", you think to smother any ANNOYING FACT beneath a fog of NOMINALISM. It matters not if I produce dictionaries, lexicons, and heaps of Bible quotations to prove my point. It matters not if I quote from the Church Fathers, or the Reformers, or even from your own favorite scribe, for by THESE 3 WORDS-"subject to interpretation"-every man NOW claims the right to design his own universe and also to change it at his own convenience. Oh! How QUICK everyone is to remember their "rights". They remind me that they only have to answer to "their" god, and NOT MINE. This makes all theological debate into a WAR OF THE GODS, in which, apparently, ALL THE GODS ARE IMPOTENT.
This "flight into nominalism" is what makes theological debate so vain and tiresome. In modern Christendom, you can always forecast who the so-called "winner" in any religious debate shall be, by inquiring into how much freedom each contestant has to despise his opponent! The one who can afford to show the most contempt thinks he is the "WINNER" EVERY TIME.
All of this just goes on and on, while people live and die around us like rats. Even when someone has misery, failure, tragedy, self-destructive habits, and conspicuous sin in their life, they no longer see this as evidence of any error in their faith, for the modern philosophical convenience of a mechanical universe that ignores EVERY religion, and that ONLY and ALWAYS obeys the dead, cold, and impersonal laws of science (1 Tim.6:20), allows them all to demand pity and call themselves "innocent victims". The denial that there is only one Plain Truth before us, and that IT IS OBVIOUS to all, amounts to a denial that God has made a revelation to The World. The Bible is no longer received as a plain and clear description of reality, because IT DOES CONTRADICT science, falsely so called (1 Tim.6:20), AND BECAUSE, in religious matters, words are no longer held captive to their ordinary definitions. I do not anticipate, in writing this book, to convert ANYONE to my point of view. You who read this will only be hardened into whatever you already were.
|Jer.6:16||Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.|
One wonders if it has always been so. How can I know, since I have only lived in my own lifetime. Of course, we have BOOKS that tell us about how things used to be, but being BOOKS, these also are "subject to interpretation". Besides, us "modern folks" know everything they knew, plus a lot more, DON'T WE?, so those ancient promulgators of ignorant superstition cannot dictate a world-view to us! Those people lived in a world in which whatever was SIMPLY OBVIOUS was TRUE.
Certainly, no one from those ignorant days, before we made science superior to religion, can have anything to say to us. No, we must have our microscope to get to the truth, BUT WE DON'T HAVE THE MICROSCOPE: the scientist has it! We'll let him tell us the truth, but then, even when he tells us, we DARE NOT COMMIT OURSELVES, for there is a bigger and better microscope in the works. When the scientist gets the "new and improved" microscope, he will tell us the real truth, BUT STILL, we will wait until we have checked with all the other scientists, for they have been known to disagree with each other. Even after we have finally consulted with hundreds of scientists who all agree, there are good reasons to wait, and not commit ourselves. There might be one scientist we missed, and then, they are still working on a better microscope.
This is THE DIMINISHING GROUND OF THE ABSOLUTE: when the longer and harder you look, the more faint everything becomes. In religious matters, this is illustrated by what has happened to the Bible. After 1500 years of arguing, squabbling, and research, Christendom produced a Greek Text for the New Testament called THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS. It was from this text that we got the King James Bible. All was supposedly settled in the matter, and for the next 300 years, the King James Bible was regarded as authoritative and final by the Protestant world. There were 9 minor revisions, and 4 major revisions of the King James Bible between 1611 and 1769: none of which went any further than minor adjustments to the English translation. There were never any significant challenges to the text from which the translation was made, and none of the changes that were made through these 13 separate revisions affected doctrine or theology in the least. Very few people today are aware of these revisions, or that the King James Bible, as originally issued, included the Apocrypha as a separate section between the testaments.
The English speaking world had a settled, sure, and RELIABLE Bible. This established an AUTHORITY FOR TRUTH in matters of doctrine, to which all Protestants publicly obliged themselves to submit. The King James Bible became THE GROUND OF THE ABSOLUTE for Christians: the UNIMPEACHABLE authority on every matter of faith, morals, ethics, and doctrine. The general acknowledgement that there was ONLY ONE SAVING TRUTH and that it was CLEARLY expressed in The Bible received the blessing and affirmation of God, in that what resulted were the greatest missionary efforts, and the greatest revivals of personal holiness, in history. Christians TRUSTED their Bible: they were CONFIDENT that it was THE VERY WORD OF GOD.
But NOW, Christendom is completely saturated with a veritable HOST of "trendy translations", and "revised revisions", and "polished paraphrases", which not only differ from the King James Version in form and expression (which is not always bad), but also in SUBSTANCE and CONTENT (and this, is very bad). So-called "Modern Scholarship" has told us that the Bible we have now is NOT RELIABLE: So, these new "versions" completely omit, discredit, or change, scores of Bible verses that once stood as the walls of a canyon around the narrow way (Matt.7:14) of truth. On every page there are all those LITTLE NOTES that tell you that you CAN'T REALLY TRUST WHAT YOU'RE READING. We are told that these DOUBTS and questions about the CONTENTS of the Bible are the product of "better scholarship and recently discovered evidence."
I GUESS WE BETTER WAIT, AND NOT COMMIT OURSELVES: for these "scholars" are sure to get around to introducing another "new and improved Bible": one that shall FINALLY tell us the real truth. This is THE DIMINISHING GROUND OF THE ABSOLUTE: when the longer and harder you look, the more faint everything becomes.
Anyone who consults these "new and improved" versions will be led to believe that NO BIBLE can be trusted. Not only do these "scholars" challenge and discredit the King James Version, but they challenge and discredit all the other "new and improved" versions. They even discredit their OWN VERSION, by inserting all those LITTLE NOTES. In essence, they say: "We have an APPROXIMATELY correct Bible".
is going to risk their MONEY, their CAREER, their HEALTH, their FAMILY, or their very LIFE, on the counsel of a Bible that admits to being full of errors, and which MAY OR MAY NOT BE CORRECTED LATER?
If I say, THE BIBLE SAYS THIS: they say, "That verse was added in the 10th century, so it has no authority".
If I say, THE BIBLE SAYS THAT: they say, "My version doesn't read like that".
WHERE DOES THIS END?
It ends.....in APOSTASY.
|2Tim.3:16-17||All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.|
|17||That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.|