Hebrew Worldview in Scripture and Literalism, Pt. 1

Though I haven’t been to the Ark Encounter exhibit in Williamstown, Kentucky, I did once visit the Creation Museum here in El Cajon. It was part of a field trip of sorts while at my undergrad, Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. I was there as a student reporter to document the PLNU science class’s visit. Students were scornful of the idea of the world being no more than 10,000 years old. At the time, I was still in that camp. But the mockery of the science students against the literalists, things like “I guess Jesus rode on a velociraptor,” was insulting to the believers.

A few years back, I was speaking to two friends and told them I didn’t know what to think about Genesis and the Flood. To them, saying I didn’t know was occasion for them to say they would pray for me.

This time, I was insulted.

But the question was about the inerrancy of the Bible story. I admit, I don’t know about many things in the Bible. But that issue opened a can of worms for other problems with a literal view. But the Flood story is such a major part of the Old Testament and the Bible as a whole, that the question of it as an actual event demands an answer.

So I am now thinking about the way the ancient Hebrews saw the Universe. This graphic from the University of Oregon’s Cosmology class can be found in various other versions.

Looking at the graphic above, I believe the scientist view. When a new Earth creationist quotes those scriptures referencing “windows and doors of heaven,” “storehouses and fountains of the great deep,” “waters above the firmament,” “foundations of the deep,” “foundations of the Earth,” or “foundations of heaven,” they tend to think of it some form of poetry, but those lines reference the literal Hebrew cosmology.

The Flood was a local event. Not a worldwide cataclysm. The ark’s size finally works under that interpretation. I have no problem with Cain’s wife being a unrelated woman from a tribe not spoken of in the Bible; I no longer have to defend the idea that incest between Adam’s family was necessary for propagation of the species.

So, it doesn’t bother me if the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe 14 billion. I want to talk more about literalism, a critical matter.

Continue reading “Hebrew Worldview in Scripture and Literalism, Pt. 1”

That I not wail

“Mad and violent; bitterness mistook for frolic, I fought my way by literature and wit.” -Lewis.

O my soul, say you will not wail.
Though I pierce Him every day,
Say the sky will not break,
That there be no longer a shiver up my spine,
His feet brass burned in a furnace,
His voice rushing water,
The seven stars in His right hand.

The sword of His mouth sharper than any two edged sword,
Piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit.

The sun will shine in His strength.
Do not look upon me,
Just let me ascend.

The Biggest Questions

Paschal wrote that the Jew and Christian have the same faith, that of the heart (Pensées). We both know of God through faith. Oftentimes, I hear from the pulpit that the Jew relies on law for salvation. They are depicted as the Pharisees, but not all were Pharisees. Having listened to and read Jewish theology, I see their belief in Malachi: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Is the New Testament reading an addition or clarification?

Abraham believed and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

There is also the supreme bet, which diversion can withhold from, that God is over God is not. If you wager that He is and He turns out to be, you’ve gained the world. If you wager that He is and it turns out that He is not, you have lost nothing. However, if you make the absolute assertion that He is not and He is, then you have truly lost.

Lewis: “(In youth) My judgment…was not so good; but I had all the facts. But as Xerxes wept…not one of that great multitude would be alive a hundred years afterwards.”

Bet on His existence.

On Symbolism

Some think to end the discussion about scripture saying it is symbolic and that we can’t know what it ultimately means.

Lewis wrote that you cannot know that a text is symbolic unless you have independent access to the thing and can compare it with the representation–especially if we are talking about a transcendent, objective reality to which the story is solely referring.

Much of scripture is difficult but can be taken for face value. The idea of hidden meaning in the text is easy to make, the original, which, again, we do not have not access to, being “corrupt.”

Perhaps some “skimmers” arm themselves with these arguments, but a serious look is necessary to reckon with the text. Accounting for the New Testament or Old Testament milieus should be part of the effort in understanding the background of the chosen fines. But I question the initial choice of say NT Wright’s historical scholarship before reading as a “child.” That’s how I grew up. I let the lines tell me instead of putting scholarship over top. First start with the simple things, the meaning of what the writer or character means to the most simple of readers, the child.

Layer on the accouterments later, but remember the first impressions.

From the outposts

Out here on the edge of the internet, we see accouterments of what our culture is. All of us sending dispatches, present-day Kiplings and Twains.

We have overcome the old and started new. Euro festivals become praise in nondescript white-walled buildings, a core that is our culture.

But the continent has its own transformation: European cathedrals become apartments and Amazon shipping hubs.

Here or there. Are things changing for the better or?

I’ve already expressed my recognition of the goods of British healthcare. In conservative circles there is criticism of socialism, but not much investigation of “good” socialism. Clearly there’s a gulf between Venezuela/Cuba and Sweden/U.K?

This deserves more exposition.

Little wooden cross

In Israel, I felt at home. But recently I have been thinking of social media and the stars thereon. Christ becomes smaller every day, and more and more ordinary. At least that’s what I think. But when I look for help, He is there. It takes faith to believe that.

This small man executed in some first century backwater. Armies have moved and every knee has bowed. Every tongue confesses day after day. God is alive despite statements to the contrary.

On Finishing Books

Finally got back to finishing two books tonight.

The first was from Joseph Prince on Psalm 119 called The Prayer of Protection: Living Fearlessly in Dangerous Times. It’s more than a verse-by-verse, offering anecdotes as well as comments on the Hebrew. It’s *not* a scholarly work by any means, but it was uplifting.

The other was Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health–and Improving Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD, and More. Christopher Palmer advocates research on the cells’ mitochondrial factories as intensely involved in the metabolic processes. He suggests that along with contemporary treatments (drugs, therapy), metabolic regimens, diet, exercise, and social and personal changes should form a rounded-out set of treatments for everything from depression to manic depression to schizophrenia to substance abuse. He closes with a request for readers to take up arms to promote his findings and beliefs.

It’s easy to be cynical when reviewing books like this last one because there’s always someone trying to say they’ve found the true secret to mental health. But I commend him for making mention in the closing chapters that his discoveries are not to be taken in isolation, but as one among a group of tried and tested methods as well.

Evolution and the Spirit

Lewis wrote in passing, in a few places, about evolution. He didn’t seem to see it as a problem when viewed against the biblical narrative.

In my nondenominational upbringing, being “spirit-filled” is a statement that one has experienced supernatural gifts in one’s life. We also believe the Bible to be inerrant and infallible.

So taken together, does the “spirit” require a 7-day / 7000-year creation?

I’m interested in the feeling or perception that the bible is literal in that way. Can you oppose the “spirit” and be wrong? Clearly, emotion can be misleading. There are various other questions that arise from this conundrum. Can we judge other churches that are not “in the spirit”? Can mere guidance in life be possible? Can we get guidance on things such as a certain political contest? Continue reading “Evolution and the Spirit”

The Omissions

There’s much to be said about what we have not done. Isn’t it that we repent every day and need grace to repent again. Day after day we realize how much we have not done. Aren’t we just hypocrites who must see more clearly our iniquities before we attain heaven?

Guilt is a heavy burden. Only what we do not see can help us with what we do not remember. We need to realize the farthest is East from West. Self is a killer.

The enemy reminds us only of what we have done and only what we were. That is all he has.

Reflection of Heaven in Revelation

Luke 11:20 “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.”

It’s already here with us. Of all the books in the New Testament, Revelation is dense and metaphorical. As a kid, I knew Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth. It was on my grandparents’ shelf.

Reinterpreting the scripture is every generation’s, but the idea of the Kingdom of Heaven (and if I will conflate the two, the Kingdom of God) is a steady constant. We are destined for perfection in a perfect place of splendor and love.

Each preacher, pastor, evangelist may interpret–and spin–differently. Their individual ideas can provoke thought of differing types and degrees. We must keep our eyes on the prize.

This is not to say that every relater of the Revelation should be listened to. We must test the spirits.

But we should not fear. That is my struggle.

The pleasant streets we will walk on.
The pains of ours are gone.
The light will shine on and in.
The farthest from us is sin.
Here and there as one,
We are walking in the Son.

Worship and Conduct

Prager says God is worshipped through moral conduct. Christians say by belief.
Prager says God brings people to his moral law. Christians say to Christ, who is the Law and the Prophets.
“Those who come to Him must believe He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Prager often says this. How does he know when he is approved is what I wanted to ask.

Breakfast and Confidence

Went out with four of my prayer buddies today and an Indian man came in and started to debate incessantly. I was asking him questions to see where he was, but the guys cut it short. Turns out this was the same man who sat next to my mother once in church and just kept bringing up objections.

I later realized that my questions were pretty much pointless in this case.

Spiritual discernment can be difficult. Your worldview affects (mental illness affects even more). But the spiritual things are foolishness to the world. Questioning can add nothing if the hearer does not want faith.

Still thought I could have some positive effect. Am I being too much in the flesh?

You can also speak with knowledge, but be ignored if you don’t have confidence. Outer strength shows inner strength to the listener. Fake it til you make it.

Respect comes to the confident. Recognition to respect.

How many great minds and hearts are unrecognized because they doubt themselves? Perhaps in writing one can show confidence and be read. If you meet the author, sublime text can be lost on you.

OK, so the world can be unkind. So with my other thoughts on spirit versus flesh, the spirit can give you that confidence that you lack. You will have listeners, at least some. You can know when it’s pointless to argue (pearls to swine).


There are some Brits I know that don’t see a modern purpose for the monarchy. I just think it’s a wonderful thing. The faith aspects are tremendously uplifting. They couldn’t get away with not having other sects participating, but the Christian elements are marvelous.

Here’s to the fam and friends. Some fond memories here.

Prehistoric v. Fallen

As Lewis points out, prehistoric man is only known to us by his gathering and hunting. But to him, the first civilizations that made artifacts seem superior. Our society, in turn, would look superior to the first civilizations because of the things we make. Lewis calls this the “idolatry of artifacts.”

But what we consider virtue becomes only what science terms the “herd instinct” of man, wherein we watch after our brother. Prehistoric man sins only against society. But the traditional concept of sin became that which is only against God.

God gave man a new consciousness wherein we became rational and aware of things like time passing and were first like Christ. But man became proud when he set himself as separate, falling when he turned from God to man and became a “spoiled species.” Today the fact we are “vermin” (Lewis) is legal fiction.

It’s easy to place our time as above the past, but sin in its essence has not changed since man gained consciousness. All the agendas in error today look on the past as inferior. This in itself is sin. We try to set ourselves apart as something more pure. Pride changes in its details, but not in its essence.

The problem is how to express adherence to the goodness of God in spite of our prideful rebellion.

New Babel?

There are international, human values that can enable a tower of Babel today. But a new language of science wants to unite under its banner without the core values.

One’s philosophies and beliefs manifest the trajectory of one’s life, and human language is a necessity. If our previous, foundational values varied too broadly, a new language would not be possible.

Focus should be on base communication, in my opinion. A lack of proper education has created individuals more separate from core critical skills. We do not need more skilled professionals who cannot function separately from technology.

A new Babel would only successfully build on core skills.


More infectious enthusiasm from Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Tyson says we are part of this universe, we are one with it, but that more important than either of those two statements is his belief that the universe is in us.

I won’t say this is New Age, but it is interesting that a lauded scientist makes an almost spiritual statement about a material universe. He does say that though he doesn’t like labels, he would be most close to an agnostic.

In his two short books “Letters from an Astrophysicist” and “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” he contends that we have a duty to our fellow man. As good as that sounds, I don’t know from where he draws that idea. But it sounds religious to me.

Tyson is a darling of secularists and in some ways, rightly so. He’s bright, seems personable, and brings a lightheartedness to a dense topic. I’d love to have a couple of beers with him and learn.

It is/is not written

It’s irksome, the idea that destiny is written. It’s a great thing if you have faith enough. He promised the work would be completed. It is written.

Yet, if we sin and fall into judgment, is that written?

So that is a known problem.

I aspire. I hope. Let that not die.

But is the history of ideas written, ideas that can contradict Him? We open our mouths, and we contradict.

It becomes difficult to function if you think too much. And I know my thinking. To be free of that kind of thinking.

Let go. Let go my soul.

“Bring him my ring and coat.” Let me glorify your name.