The issue of creation and evolution; scripture and science, is controversial and emotions do run high. Yet is it the actual issue that generates the controversy? Is it not from people controversy issues forth? A lot of difficulty with the scriptures and the topic of this book lie with people; this chapter will demonstrate with scriptures this fact. Once the smoke screen of controversy is seen as a smoke screen and its source uncovered then, hopefully, the issue can be considered in a fuller light. Of course it is always difficult to have one's convictions challenged or overthrown and many people go down fighting. In this chapter it is not my intent to destroy anyone but bring down the vain arguments and strongholds to knowledge of the truth; to only "tell it like it is," (or at least how I see it as). I have tried to give balance to what, at first, may seem as a scathing attack on some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. The worse lies are the ones never told; it is better to say what may be hard to say and hear than not say it.
In the psychiatric and social worker fields there was a long-standing cliché usually posed rhetorically- "What is normal?" For example when staff discuss the mental states of clients and what appropriate measures may be needful someone may cite some behaviour or mannerism of a client and say that it was not normal, someone else would then ask, "Normal! What is normal?" The implication being that although the client's behaviour may seem strange to some, if no harm is being done to any person or property then who are they to say what should be proper behaviour and intervene.
Normal is mal-adaptiveness. Mal-adaption is normal. The writer of Ecclesiastes writes "Behold this alone I found, that God made man upright but they have sought out many devices." Ecc.7:29. People are innately selfish, even their altruism is flawed at times and compassion tainted, they are programmed to be selfish, they have selfish genes.
John 2:23-25 records "Now when he (Jesus) was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; but Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man." Brackets mine. Jesus knew sin to be the norm.
Even in the face of truth people go astray. When Jesus fed five thousand men plus women and children as much as they wanted, from five loaves of bread and two fish, (John chapter six), they then knew he was the prophet who was to come into the world. These people wanted to take Jesus by force and make him king. Jesus withdrew from them. That night Jesus walked on the Sea of Tiberi-as, named after the emperor Tiberi-as, to where the apostles were in a boat. The next day the people sought Jesus and crossed the sea in boats that passed near to where they were. When they had found Jesus they asked him when did he get there. Jesus answered "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me not because you saw the signs, but because you ate your fill of loaves." Jesus went onto explain where they had erred and the true import of himself that the miracle of the loaves and fishes pointed to. Someone once said, "I pointed to the moon and the fool looked at my finger." This is certainly the case in this case. Some of what Jesus explained was difficult to come to terms with and after this many of his disciples withdrew from him. Jesus asked his apostles if they too wished to depart. Peter made a reply of faith in Jesus in spite of the difficulty in accepting the words Jesus just spoke.
Jesus the Lord of Lords and King of kings refused to let the people make him their king. The king they would have made him would be so much lower than the king he is. These people wanted Jesus as a puppet king to their own appetites and base expectations of what this king Jesus would do. Jesus walked over the sea of Tiberi-as, Jesus' name is above all names, and it was not for these people to name him.
The crowd who believed Jesus was the promised prophet with such fervour was wrong, even though they had the right person. Their fervour was fanaticism. We are called to have zeal but we are not called to be rabid dogs. Paul writes in Romans 10:1-4 about Israel "Brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God but it is not enlightened for being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the Law, that everyone who has faith may be justified."
That crowd of people in John 6 was going to take Jesus by force and establish him king. These people did not allow Jesus to establish his reign of righteousness in their own selves. They were privy to the signs just as their forebears were in the days of Moses. Deuteronomy 29:2-4 records "And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: 'You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders: but to this day the Lord has not given you a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear."
Moses told them they saw the signs and then says they have not eyes to see. Even seeing the signs done they did not see.
The way the crowd of people was who ate the loaves and fishes, the way Israel was when Moses led them is the way people are today. The nature of people has not changed; people so often go astray in their hearts.
With regards to the scriptures, just because someone is religiously and fervently into them does not mean that that person is enlightened or righteous by them. Just as the crowd who ate the loaves and fishes were all for the messianic king and knew that it was Jesus but did not come to know Jesus and thereby God so too often is the situation with people who lay claim to the scriptures. Furthermore a person may well be saved with a genuine belief in Jesus but tend toward a bible bashing dogmatism because this is the person's personality coming through. Just because the person is actually saved does not mean their approach is the right one. Some Tee shirts are printed with "Be patient, God's not finished me yet!"
People have a tendency to equate devotion as goodness. When Jesus walked the earth the people most devoted to scripture and religion were the scribes and Pharisees along with the lawyers of scripture. By and large it was these who rejected Jesus and plotted to kill him. Jesus rightly and justly accused the scribes and Pharisees of pouring over the scriptures in an effort to obtain eternal life and yet not coming to Jesus of whom the scriptures bare witness to and so not obtaining the life, John 5:39-40. Jesus said that prostitutes and tax collectors were entering the kingdom of heaven before the Pharisees Mt. 21:32. Some of the Pharisees did believe Jesus but caved in to peer pressure. The bible says they feared man instead of God and loved the praises of men more than the praise of God, John 12:43.
True devotion flows from goodness, which comes from the humble acceptance of God's goodness. In the Pharisees devotion flowed from coveting goodness, they thought goodness came by their devotion, what came was fatal pride. Jesus used the Greek word for actor to describe this going through the motions, this pretend worship: Hypocrite. And these were the people who laid claim to the scriptures. Their bible bashing and obsessive adhering to scripture, their scruples, their legalism and bureaucracy were symptoms of a deadly disease; called Sin.
Isaiah 29:13, "And the Lord said: 'Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote: therefore behold, I will again do marvelous things with this people, wonderful and marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hid.'" This passage is part of their scriptures, it lay open to them but their hearts were closed to it so that they did not see it and so it came to pass. The religious people did not worship God in truth so that they ended condemning Jesus in their wisdom and God brought about the wonderful and marvellous salvation of the cross by it.
According to the Jewish law if a Jew entered a gentile's house, that is a non-Jew, he would be defiled. When the Jews sought to have Jesus condemned to death they took him to the house of the roman governor, Pontius Pilate, but would not enter it themselves, as they would be defiled and unable to keep the Passover feast (see John 18:28). These people wanted an innocent man killed but unwilling to break their scruples. Scruples are moral delusions. They still thought of themselves as clean and could not see how they had sullied their hands and souls with blood.
When Judas returned to the Jews with the thirty pieces of silver he received from them for betraying Jesus, Mt. 27:4-8, he said "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood", and they replied "What is that to us. See to it yourself." So Judas threw the money down and went and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money". They conferred together and bought the potter's field to bury strangers in. These Jews admitted that the money was blood money, they did not dispute with Judas that Jesus was innocent or that Judas was guilty. They refused to believe in Jesus of whom their scriptures testified but hardened their hearts and clung to their ways. The presence of Jesus and his ministry made these elitist religionists uncomfortable because their ways were not right. When faced with the light instead of shedding their darkness they retreated into it, instead of responding positively to uprightness they clung to their devices, they ended up killing, murdering an innocent man in an attempt to stop their evil deeds being exposed. The disease they had became all the more acute; the disease came to a head in them.
The examples of the scribes and Pharisees have been used from scripture in order to demonstrate how people today, claiming scripture, stumble regarding the scriptures. The disease, which gives rise to hypocrisy, fanaticism, bible bashing, false morals and scruples, superstitions and religiosity still resides in people today. The root cause of these things is present in everyone, murder is one of its works but so too is gossip. Even a little of sin is too much sin in God's eyes, God hates sin and longs to purify us of it. If it is by devotion, staunch support of scripture, and carrying out ceremonial practices that people are right with God there are billions of Moslems, Hindus and so on who are saved by their religions. Does it really matter if someone rolls the length and breadth of India, or walk on their knees up the steps to St. Peter's square? Is it by having true doctrine that sets those who are saved apart from others? James 2:19 says "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder." Salvation and being right before God is more than being correct doctrinally.
It could be said that Jesus was the least religious of all people. James 1:27 says "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world". Some people though, make visiting orphans and widows a religion. If only Judas had turned to Jesus and admitted his wrong instead of the Jewish elders and priests how much better off would he be, to be graciously forgiven and lovingly accepted even as Jesus hung on the cross. Judas would have gone on to life rather than death. We see the contrast of the Jews religiosity spurning Judas in his hour of need and the religion of Jesus, which is an all-consuming love for people. By this it could be said Jesus was the most religious of all people.
When Moses led the people through the wildness they were afflicted with fiery serpents and some of them died. Moses prayed and the Lord directed Moses to fashion a fiery serpent out of bronze, the traditional fire metal, and hang it on a standard. Anyone after being bitten who looked to this object would live, see Numbers 21:4-9. This is actually a prophesy of Jesus undergoing the fire of affliction in the crucifixion becoming as sin i.e. like the Serpent so that all who turn to Jesus can be healed.
Centuries later in 2 Kings 18:1-5 King Hezekiah broke this bronze serpent into pieces because the people of Israel were worshipping it. The curator in me did not like reading this, what an interesting museum piece it would be! What a pity it had to be destroyed due to stupid people hanging religion on things.
Nowhere in the Gospels is there a physical description of Jesus' features. All that is said is Jesus was about thirty years of age when he began his ministry in Luke 3:23. From the Old Testament in Is. 53:2 we know Jesus did not have movie star good looks or a Mr. World physique. It is only natural to wonder what Jesus looked like but there are reasons why there is no physical description. What Jesus looked like is not important to the message but also if there were to be a physical description people would attribute Jesus qualities to anyone who resembled the description. This would be superstitious, superstition is not of God. There are enough people already trying to make out they are the Christ, a physical description would be one of the things used to deceive.
There are and have been whole cults purporting to be scriptural based, turning the saving grace of God into regulatory observances, corrupting Christian freedom into religious duty or else license to sin. Some claim to know when the end is or when Jesus is going to return. These cults blithely ignore other scripture in order to assert what they claim a piece of scripture means.
The bible itself is full of examples of people misusing scripture or missing the meaning of the messages contained therein. The bible shows people tend toward scepticism, prejudice, legalism, bureaucracy, scruples, superstition, apathy, fanaticism, and complicated religion. Some of the examples are used above. It is not the scriptures that are wrong but people. The situation today is the same, people have not changed, and there are a lot of distracting voices, confusion and clamour. People are turned off from listening, from hearing, from believing. The truth is in the scriptures but scripture is often handled wrongly. The examples of maladaptive behaviours used above are from the bible and these people were the supposed "in crowd" in scripture and religion.
Conversely even if a Christian is wrong in for example saying the earth is only six thousand years old that does not mean they are wrong before God, God knows how old the earth is in the way humanity count years. A Christian may be factually wrong scientifically speaking but still be right with God in their faith. They might lack financial and business acumen, their personality may leave something to be desired, but if they are willing to claim the blood of Jesus and be open to God's forming and correction then they are well with God.
Anyone who has been a Christian for a while will testify to at least have made several blunders and maybe some major ones. Those who would disagree perhaps need a bit more insight. Take the apostles they are hierarchically as the church stands, the pillars, and the leaders. If we read the bible we see the various mistakes and faults of the apostles, at times trying the patience of Jesus. The apostles James and John were rebuked by Jesus when they wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan village which would not receive Jesus, Luke 9:51-56. Just imagine the headlines! There was rivalry and ambition amongst the apostles Mk 9:34, Mk 10:35-37, Luke 9:46, 22.24. Mark 6:52 says about the apostles that due to their hardened hearts they did not understand about the loaves. In Mark 4:40 and Luke 8:25 Jesus questions the apostles why were they afraid of a storm, had they no faith? Most people know of Peter denying the Lord Jesus (three times), John 18:17, 25&27 and Mt 26:69-75 and this is in spite of claiming to be loyal even if all the other apostles were to fall away Mt 26:33. It was also Peter who cut off the ear of the high priest's slave, which Jesus then healed.
There are other incidents mentioned in the bible about the less than perfect apostles. If even the apostles in their walk with Jesus were fraught with human frailty and weakness at times, and the scriptures do not try to pieties them and cover up these incidents, it is only to be expected of Christians being human will also trip up on occasions. Salvation does not depend on never being wrong, never being mistaken. Salvation depends on God. The apostles had a lot of backsliding but not one was lost except for Judas Iscariot who chose to walk out on Jesus and not return. Part of having the faith through which we are saved by God's grace is faithfulness in continuing with Jesus and, like Peter did alter denying Jesus, turning again to him even when we do go astray. What a God and saviour Christians have who is willing to bear with them in their weaknesses and backsliding. God who began a good work in them will be faithful to complete it, Phil.1:6.
The scriptures are divinely inspired and formed, and are good and true however the people who lay claim to them are human and not always genuine. Some of the people who lay claim to the scriptures are genuine, but also make genuine mistakes. The outcome is that the true issues are often clouded over; scripture is not looked at with clarity of mind. Those outside are not convinced that the bible is true, that Christianity is true or at least use the furore and confusion surrounding certain issues as an excuse for not investigating further.
The danger of this book in the exposing of these aspects is there will be some genuine people bruised in spirit, people who are genuinely mistaken. Take heart that it is not by understanding all mysteries and having all knowledge that builds up but having God's love and expressing it.
One way which controversy is arises in the matter is miss applying human pre-eminence regarding animals. The bible states that people are composed of earth. However for arguments sake if the bible did not say this fact and scientists claimed that people were made of earth, then there would be some that would refuse to believe this- "I am not made of clay!" This refusal would stem from the principle as of the repugnance felt at the concept. This sort of thing can readily be seen in some at the prospect of a son or daughter marrying a person of a different race. Because the bible does state what the human body is made of this is not an issue. However to say there is a lineage with animals often has people raise objections to the thought primary on the principle because they are repulsed by the thought. Apart from pride, at times it is also a misplacing human dignity when failing to discern the physical aspects from the theological. It is only a flesh and blood lineage back to the mud shared in common with the animals, some animals more immediately than others; (Actually Man is categorized among the animals in the bible, being grouped in a living creature like the Eagle, the Ox, and the Lion).
This chapter has so far dealt with those supposedly in the church and the believers of the bible. Of course outsiders are not free of the flaws and idiosyncrasies of human nature; controversy is added to the debate by them as well. Science and knowledge are wrongfully wielded, the same as some wrongfully use the scriptures. Politics often comes into the scientific establishments and there is resistance to some theories and genuine discoveries of science as they are not politically correct, not popular.