Second-Hand Thinking…..

A man in the country does his own thinking, but you get him into town and he soon will be thinking second-handed. – May 1, 1926  Will Rogers

Second hand thinking seems so prevalent today especially in our nation’s capital. Each political persuasion has their own set of key words that must be spoken during any discussion of their ideology. Most of these words come from their party leaders or other talking heads such as Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. They have honed their lists of words that cause the highest emotional response (especially fear) and they use those words as much as possible. Second-hand thinking is just another way to say that many people parrot the harsh rhetoric given them. No one cares to go against the leadership of their political party.

Recently I have been studying about how the Christian Bible was gathered together during the fourth century under the ever watchful eye of a Roman emperor called Constantine. I will be posting some words about that in my RedletterLiving blog soon. The point I wanted to make in reference to the post here is that while the bishops were discussing the concept of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) there were three bishops who strongly opposed that idea. They insisted that it was not in any of the documents they had gathered together for consideration but was instead an invention of the committee. Their objections were ignored and the concept of the Trinity was adopted. Not long after the Nicene council, as this gathering was called, had decided the bible contents and issued their new creed that everyone in the Roman empire was commanded to learn, one of the three bishops who opposed the concept of the Trinity was shipped off to the equivalent of Siberia! The other two were subsequently executed!!   This seems to be the same thing that is happening today in our congress without the executions that is. If the rank and file disagree with the leaders they are shipped off to the equivalent of Siberia of the congressional halls and committee assignments. Second hand thinking is required for members in congress today. No original thinkers are currently welcomed in those hallowed halls.

So Will I agree with you but I think your quote would be even more accurate today if we substitute the word “congress” for the word “town”.

But what do I know…

Religious Malevolence…

It greatly saddens me to see the degree of religious malevolence in the world today. I am particularly saddened by the Christian variety; Jesus taught us otherwise. I need to go no further than my Facebook page to see a proliferation of it!. The Christian Bible, like most other religious documents teach us to love one another; to take care of each other. So to see those who call themselves Christians spouting off mean spirited and sometimes even hateful words at those who they disagree with either politically or philosophically is very painful for me. It is just as painful as seeing what Al Qaeda has done with the words of the Muslim Koran. Since I am a follower of Jesus Christ I expect Christians to rise above malevolence.

While Facebook is a valuable resource for us to stay connected with each other it also unfortunately provides a forum for words that do nothing but harm human relationships and institutions. I am not talking about those few wackos out there that spend their lives focused on hating others; instead I am talking about my friends, my neighbors, my fellow Christians. I am focusing on the supposedly Christian ones in this post. I daily read the words of Jesus and they tell me to love everyone, even my enemies. It tells me to act in a way that makes others wonder why I have so much joy in my life. When I see other Christians trashing people in the public forum of Facebook and similar sites it puts a bad face on the person of Jesus. When I see other Christians using malicious words towards others I wonder what those in the secular world think of that.  I imagine it is something like  “Oh those Christian hypocrites are going off the deep end again!!” So instead of projecting God’s love on others they are espousing the opposite with their public words.

Maybe they need to spend more time reading their bibles and less time spouting off in public forums. That is especially true for the clergymen I see there. Yes, there are others of different religious beliefs that are doing more than criticizing those outside their faiths but that does not mean that Christians should do likewise.  An eye for an eye is old covenant talk that was replaced with “love your neighbor as yourself”. Let’s never forget that. Trashing others not only puts a bad face on you it also puts a bad face on the Body of Christ.

Book of James….

According to most Biblical historians the Book of James is one of the earliest letters/epistles written. It is believed to have been written by the brother of Jesus in the year 45AD or so.  James was one of several brothers of Christ, probably the oldest. At first he did not believe in Jesus and even challenged him and misunderstood his mission. Later he became very prominent in the church.I believe that this letter is probably one of the few that might have been untarnished by others. For that reason it holds a lot of prominence for me. It is also one of the most direct in saying what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Some of the Reformers, particularly Luther, did not have a favorable view of this book. I believe that that is mainly because it is heavy in “works” and that ran contrary to Luther’s basic beliefs. He called it a “book of straw” or in today’s terms a fake. He did not believe it belonged in the Bible!

I am going to spend the next several Sunday posts bringing you clips from this important document. I will only put up the words for you; interpret them as you wish. I myself tend to take them literally in most cases as I think James intended.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 

Why Didn't God Write a Book?…..

Why didn’t God write a book or maybe I should say scroll?  Of course many of you Christians will mention the Bible. Many Muslims will point to the Koran. Many Jews will say the Koran.  But I guess I have a different understanding of those documents. Yes, they have God’s fingerprints on them but they were not written by God himself. There is one religious establishment, Mormons, who claim their books was dropped from heaven but I have some very serious reservations about that claim.

One possible answer why didn’t God write a book came from a Quaker friend. He said that if God had written a book then man would have a relationship with a book and not with God. God want us to come to him not to a book about him. That is a great answer but I still wonder what if God were to write a book what would it look like? Of course I am painfully aware that I certainly don’t know the mind of God. That is something that man can never really know. Our minds are just too puny for that task. But that doesn’t keep me from speculating some of the possible answers to my question.

  • If God were to write a book there would be absolutely no mistake that it was from God…. With our current written text know as the  Bible theologians throughout the ages have constantly shown doubt about the authors of almost every book of the New Testament.  We just can’t seem to decide, and there seems to be little evidence, of the true authors of the documents that make the Bible.
  • There would be no hidden messages…. Compared to Him God knows we are all very simple-minded people who need simple-minded instructions on what God expects from us and what we can expect from God.
  • It would be a book that is constantly changing…. ( I can just hear the jaws drop on this one :) )It would be a changing book in that would it would give us different messages as we move along our road of life and our journey with Christ. It’s messages would be as clear to a four-year old as they were to a life long follower of Christ.
  • There would be no need for all the theologians around today… There are literally thousands of theologians  of different spiritual persuasions around today to help us understand our religious documents. But, one of the problems with that is that no two seem to have the same answers. So it depends on which is our favorite flavor of theologian as to what we think God says. If God were to write a book this field of occupation would be senseless. There would be no need for us to rely on others to know the meanings of a book written by God himself.
I believe that the Bible we followers of Jesus Christ currently use to try to understand the nature of God is an awesome collection of works. Yes, they do give us a basic understanding of the nature of God at least from the perspective of those who penned the words.  And quite frankly, without that book we would be hard pressed to know much of anything about the mind of God. But being a book produced by inspired men and not God, the Bible is often misunderstood, misquoted, and misused. Being a collection of works written by different men at different times it is not a very unified document many pieces of text seem to say completely opposite things.  If God had indeed written a book none of these problems would exist. It would be perfect as God is perfect.

God did not intend us to have a relationship with a book but a relationship with him