Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Race:

Is it possible that we all came from the same two people?


All contents copyright © 2014 by M.L. Wilson. All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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I can’t help but think this particular commentary is going to be taken the wrong way by a great number of people. There is little which is more sensitive a subject today than that of race. It seems that everything in our daily lives is orchestrated by race. From the number of commercials which feature racial minorities, from the number of job positions filled in a given company by racial minorities to the music which is regarded as most popular. We are constantly bombarded with the fact that as a people, we are made well aware of our differences, but none so vast as our racial make-up. We dance around the subject and refuse to allow a airing of the matter without fear. To be called a racist in this day and age is almost a fate worse then death. Such a mindset doesn't really help the matter at all, but rather sweeps it under the rug. In the end the matter must still be dealt with. 

The election of Barack Obama as United States President was not unique because he is one of the few to ascend to the White House directly from the Senate (there have only been three who have preceded him: Garfield, Harding and Kennedy), nor is his election regarded as noteworthy because of his uneven upbringing. (a product of a broken home being raised largely out of country in a completely different culture with a stepfather who is Muslim) Barack Obama’s election is regarded as noteworthy merely by the fact of his race. Whatever one may think of the man’s politics, his legacy will be as the first black man to be elected to the office of the President of the United States. Nothing else he does (or does not do) will overshadow this one aspect of his being. My question is simple: Why should his skin color matter to anyone? Quite frankly I am confused by this import we place upon race and I suppose I really always have been. We call people racist all the time when really these are people who are merely expressing an opinion. It may be seen as unpopular by some, but true racism? I rather doubt it. Perhaps I should explain.

I grew up in a suburb just south of San Francisco, California on the coast. My first day of school saw me, a boy of English/Irish extraction mixed in with a host of other kids of different races. I thought nothing of it as to me, this was normal. My best friend at that young age was a Hispanic boy and I honestly never gave a moment’s thought to his heritage; I cared that we were friends and nothing more. Perhaps I was simply naïve, but I tended to judge people by how they acted rather than their family lineage. The other kids were no more in control over what race they were born into than was I. To me, we were all just a bunch of kids and this was school. The challenge was to get through it unscathed by the bigger kids and maybe make new friends.

By the time I reached the 2nd grade, my family moved to another suburb farther to the east of the San Francisco Bay Area. This suburb was completely different. For one thing, it was quite a bit more well-to-do. The other thing was that there were very few minorities. For me, this was culture shock. I had never been in a classroom with only white teachers and white kids. My first teacher was a very kind lady Named Miss Roberts who was black. She more or less set the standard for teachers for me. Now being faced with a white teacher in a predominately white suburban town, I wasn’t certain what to expect.

As I grew, I learned that people are people regardless of their skin color. When I entered the Air Force, I was once again in a racial mix of people. I found that I gravitated towards those whose company I enjoyed regardless of heritage. Of course being older, there were impediments to this absent when I was a child. Racism is not only a white on (fill in the race) issue, but is a problem people in general suffer with. While my peers didn’t seem to have a problem with me, I experienced my first real taste of racism from one of my sergeants. He was a black Viet Nam War veteran and—there is no other way to put this—hated white people. Years later I saw a routine by Chris Rock and I instantly thought of my First Sergeant in the Air Force because Rock was describing him exactly.

Rock explained (in his own inimitable way) that the most racist people you will find are old black men. Now his reasoning is explained  in that older black men experienced true racism themselves. Growing up in certain parts of the United States before the 1950s was not a good experience for most black people. The reconstruction period after the Civil War saw the advent of many prominent blacks to positions of real power in local, state and federal offices and thoughts of racism seemed finished. But old ways don’t fade away so easily and within less than ten years, the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan had formed to put the black man back in his "proper place." By the turn of the 20th century, racism against blacks was widespread—and very cruel. The lessons learned which led in part to the American Civil War appeared to have been forgotten.

Older black men who just wanted to make a decent life for themselves and their families faced an uphill battle simply because of the color of their skin. They saw family and friends murdered and treated in despicable ways by the supposedly morally superior whites. My first sergeant—who would have been born right around 1935—experienced all of this. To him, I was a self indulgent, ignorant little white kid who couldn’t find his ass with both hands. The simple fact of the matter is that he was right—to a point. I was not born of wealth and privilege, just born white.  However my First Sergeant’s opinion of me was a description of many of my black and Hispanic friends as well, but his own racism refused to allow him to see that. As far as he was concerned, I was going to pay for how other white people had treated him and his family when he was younger. It was lost on him that by treating me as he had been treated he had become the very thing he hated.

And the cycle continues. Or does it? I never looked at my First Sergeant as a black man; I looked at him as my superior. The color of his skin was irrelevant to me. My direct supervisor was a black Master Sergeant and we got along just fine. He evidenced none of the racism displayed by my First Sergeant who appeared to hate me simply because of the color of my skin. While I didn’t enjoy the confrontation, it was an interesting lesson for me. I’ll also add that it diminished him in my eyes. I never respected the man as a result of such narrow thinking on his part. I respected his rank and position, but he lost my respect as a man. I’m assuming that was the opposite of what he had intended.

But this isn’t so much a commentary on race relations as it is about race in general. Specifically, how is it that as human beings we fractured into different “races” of people. I need to start out by qualifying the term race here. We are all of one race: Human. That we all have differences in appearance does not make us any more or any less than another. I therefore find the term “race” a misnomer. I prefer to use the term "ethnicity" to define our differences; we are all of the human race with different ethnic makeups. However for the benefit of the reader and this commentary, I’ll proceed on premise that we’re talking heritage or lineage when referring to race.

The question remains: If one believes the Biblical account, one is forced to make some interesting conclusions with respect to race in the world today. How is it that if all of us came from Adam and Eve and then later from just the eight people aboard Noah’s Ark, there is such a divergent group of people today? Quite literally, it cannot have happened the way orthodoxy says it happened. Human beings cannot become this divergent in the short span of time since the great flood.

If one follows the Biblical account, the great flood with the Ark took place approximately 4500 to 5000 years ago. I won’t belabor the secular arguments that such a cataclysm couldn’t have occurred for a host of other reasons. For the moment, I want to simply focus on the racial aspect. Archaeologists have uncovered human remains which predate the time of the great flood by thousands of years. These remains are clearly different races. One famous example is remains which were found in present day Kennewick, Washington of a Caucasian man who died approximately 7300 to 7600 years ago. While Native American tribes in Washington State sued in Federal Court to assert a claim as to their heritage and “Kennewick Man,” the Federal Court ruled that there was no genetic justification for their claim. The remains were not of a Native American.

What is interesting about this for me are two things: One, where the remains were found. It was believed that man migrated on a land bridge across the Aleutians from Asian to arrive in North America. Those who migrated would naturally be Asiatic in heritage. Kennewick Man is not of such a heritage, yet there his is; buried in Washington State at a time a when a Caucasian shouldn’t even exist. 

Two is the fact that this time line occurs well before the great flood. Already we have physical evidence of racial disparity existing at a time when most Biblical scholars believe there should be no racial disparity at all; we should have all looked pretty much alike. Even Noah’s sons married second cousins which would have made them all Semitic people.

According to the Human Genome Project, the Jewish people are genetically their own race and have maintained a purity of that race with is unrivaled by any other people on the planet. Thus if one is to follow the Biblical account as orthodoxy has intended, we should all look Semitic in appearance at the time of the great flood; there should be no white or black people running around anywhere. Yet the physical evidence seems to point in a different direction. Not only were there white and black people all over the place, but they were in localities they shouldn’t be. How is this possible? This is where the picture gets a bit interesting—and controversial.

Before I get into the answer as to what I have concluded is going on with the races, I would like to give a bit of a history lesson with respect to Adolf Hitler and the Aryans. Most people are aware that Hitler and one of his chief associates, Heinrich Himmler, believed the Jewish people to be an inferior race. Hitler and Himmler believed that they were born of the superior Aryan race and that mixing with the Jews was decimating his people.  But who were the Aryans and why did Hitler and Himmler regard them as superior to the Jews? This is a rather long and convoluted story of which no one seems to have completely figured out, but it does have a bearing on my conclusions.

German archaeologist and ethnohistorian Gustaf Kossinna (1858 – 1931) is widely perceived as being a catalyst for the ideas of Aryan supremacy embraced by Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler.  This from the Dictionary of Archaeology:

Kossinna was quite influential, in fact; his early arguments attempting to define cultures in archaeological sites by using specific artifact types were an early application of the cultural-historical approach. Where Kossinna went wrong was by going to extremes, as shown by his famous quote, "Sharply defined archaeological cultural areas correspond unquestionably with the areas of particular people or tribes." He used ethnohistory to search for the origins of specific ethnic groups, believing there was a one-to-one relationship between modern and ancient ethnic groups, something modern archaeologists know is not true. Kossinna definitely believed that Germans were the descendants of a superior race he called the Germani; and as such his theories fit right into the Hitler/Himmler concept of the Aryan race.

Himmler convinced Hitler that they were both descended from this superior race of people and only by restoration of this bloodline, could Germany—and ultimately the entire world—benefit. While there were many political reasons for using the Jews as scapegoats, Himmler was beyond any of that and used the political upheaval in Europe in the 1930s as a pretext for going ahead with the ethnic cleansing he was certain would cure their ills.

Whether one is convinced Himmler and Hitler both misinterpreted the information they used which guided them, it is a fact that they were none-the-less convinced. So if Heinrich Himmler was convinced he was descended from a separate race of people than were the Jews, is there any legitimacy at all to the claim? Can such racial disparity be proven by the evidence? This is where Archaeologists take over and insist that we all descended from a common ancestor which most likely came out of Africa. For a host of reasons, I reject that assertion, but the primary reason is that despite their claims, there is no hard evidence supporting it.

There is a clash between what the evolutionists assert as opposed to what the Biblical creationists assert. But now we also have this competing theory which seems to claim that the races were divided from the beginning. Is this at all possible? Can we even begin to imagine that the individual races (or lineages) of human beings were made separate from the very beginning? Let us explore this a moment.

In the very beginning we find a problem with the Biblical book of Genesis. This is a little known problem to most even within the church, however a schooled pastor should be at least vaguely aware of the situation.  Genesis 1:1 begins thus: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Based upon that one line, we proceed upon the premise that God Almighty created everything. As we continue to read, we see how the universe was created and how human beings were created in what is thought by orthodoxy to be only six calendar days. Without delving into the Young Earth/Old Earth Creationist debate, I would like to simply address one thing about that opening verse in Genesis. That one thing is that our understanding of it is wrong. It does not say, “…God created…” What it actually says in the original Hebrew is: "In the beginning, Gods created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew word "God" (Elohim) is used here and denotes a plurality.

I have read many commentaries as to why this is. The Hebrew scholars usually point to the multifold Spirit of God and owe that to the usage of the plurality in Genesis 1:1. Of course the Christian scholars point to the fact that this plurality is describing the Holy Trinity. Two different perspectives on exactly why the god in the very first line in Genesis is not exactly who he claims to be.

Two things which are readily apparent to me in this opening portion of Genesis are as follows: One, there is absolutely no continuity. Sometimes a plurality is used to denote God and other times it is a singularity. One would think that if Moses wanted us to all be aware of God's multifold Spiritual presence, he would have used the Hebrew "Elohim" throughout rather than switching back and forth as he evidently does. (Notwithstanding the word choice in Hebrew, Moses was conveying a particular idea. I am well aware that Moses did not write Genesis in Hebrew as the language did not then yet exist. Moses most likely wrote Genesis is a form of hieratic or some other variation of Egyptian script. Regardless, later translators clearly saw his word choice and translated accordingly.)

If one can accept that Moses translated the story told to him by his father-in-law, Jethro of Midian accurately, then one must accept that more than one “god” created the universe. Who are these gods if not the Trinity or the many Spiritual “faces” of God Almighty? The Apostle Paul gives us a glimpse as to who these “gods” truly are. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul admonishes about the Rulers, Powers and Authorities over this present realm. (Ephesians 6:12)  In fact, these entities are a focus of much of Paul’s writings. He clearly states that it was these same Rulers, Powers and Authorities which Christ makes a spectacle of upon the cross. (Colossians 2:15)

Peppered throughout the early chapters of Genesis is the impression that there is more than one “god” at work. (Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7) Biblical Scholars press the issue that as the Hebrew language contains approximately only 8700 words, a straight English translation of the meaning is lost. I’ll point out that chronologically, the Hebrew language also came long after the Genesis narrative and the possibility of the same dearth of true understanding from the original language (probably some form of proto-Sumerian) must then be entertained. Looking at the naked evidence of the word choice as put down on papyrus by Moses using a hieratic script (a proto-Egyptian script which came about alongside the more commonly known hieroglyphic script), one is forced to conclude that a plurality in these instances is pointing to several spiritual entities of vast power rather than the many majestic attributes of the one true God. Because Biblical scholars point out the fact that whenever a plurality is used to denote God it is followed by other plural verbs, the lack of these plural verbs buttress their case of there being only one god intended despite the word choice.

My problems with their conclusion are thus: In the instances when a plurality to denote God is used and is followed by a plural verb, it is done so to make quite clear that a differentiation be made between the God of the Hebrews and other gods. Since the Genesis narrative is primarily about the Hebrew people, the god of the Hebrew people is the primary subject. Using Elohim to denote “god” in these instances would then necessitate a clarification. However in the passages where Elohim is used as outlined parenthetically above, there are no “other gods” about whose legitimacy or authority is being called into question. The usage of the plurality is therefore unnecessary in these instances if there is but one god present. Yet, the oral narrative which Jethro imparted to Moses clearly employed a plurality. Again, why not simply use El or Elo to denote Almighty God in these passages? Must we constantly be forced to switch back and forth from denoting His many majestic attributes to simply referring to Him alone? What is the point of this if we are already well familiar with the one true God? The constant reminders of God’s abilities would appear to me to be a useless redundancy. Such parsing on the part of Biblical scholars is nonsensical and clearly shows and agenda leading the evidence rather than the converse.

It is vitally important to remember a few things about the book of Genesis. As I have already stated, it was first a story told orally from one generation to the next over a very long period of time. There was no “reader” when the story was first told. Memorization was of paramount importance so extraneous information was pared down to the essentials. Thus Jethro explained the story of creation to Moses as he had learned it himself. He explained to Moses that “…gods created the heavens and the earth,” because that is what he had been told. Moses doesn’t seem to ask for any clarification with respect to these “gods” and merely takes Jethro at his word on this score. This is truly fascinating if in fact Jethro is introducing a new component to the narrative not already familiar to Moses.

Again the question is asked: Is it possible that more than one god created the heavens and the earth? If so, who are these gods and where are they today? Have they been banished? Do we no longer see them? Are they still around us? Are these “gods” really the fallen angels we so often hear about? These and many other questions are all legitimate. I will endeavor to answer them to the best of my ability. First, however, I think it is important to discuss whether or not such belief goes against the teachings of the Bible. After all, the Gospel of John says that all things came into being through Christ. If these “gods” created the heavens and the earth and such was NOT actually created by the hand of God Almighty, then doesn’t that leave us in a precarious situation? It seems to point out that Jesus is lying. Let me explore that just a bit.

To begin with, we really do need to define the players. Who and what is God Almighty? Is He a being who manifests Himself in multifold ways as the Jews believe? Is God Almighty an individual set apart in some form or fashion from Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit—the Trinity—as the Christians believe? Is the doctrine of the Trinity even legitimate? If any of the aforementioned are true as far as is believed by orthodoxy, then much of what I will write will make little sense. Thus I am going to proceed on the premise that God Almighty is just that: God Almighty. He exists outside of time, outside of space and is as Christ and Paul described Him: “Invisible, living in an unapproachable light which no one can see or has seen.” (1st Timothy 6:16) God is everywhere at once and is in everything we can discern with our five senses. There is nowhere anyone can go to escape the presence of God. The elemental structure of Almighty God is so far beyond our ability to understand, that it was necessary for God Almighty to interact with us through intermediaries. It isn’t that He had to do this; He desired to teach us more about Himself utilizing this methodology. There is a reason for everything God does and when we as human beings anthropomorphize Him, we throw most of Him away. That having been said, how can we in our limited humanity ever see God? God answered this problem in giving us two ways in which He presented Himself to the human creation.

I will quickly clarify a point here so that the reader is not taken too far off by what I am saying. I wish to make it very clear that God Almighty is the author of our eternal essence. The spirit which makes up who we are comes from God Almighty. To that end, God Almighty is our creator. Nothing I have ever come across has shown me that this is not true. The body we inhabit on this planet, however, is another matter altogether. Our bodies are a product of this temporal realm. We will not take our bodies with us when we transition to be at Christ’s side. Our bodies remain behind and return to the earth from which they came. They remain behind because they belong here. We are all familiar that death robs us of the person we loved, even though their body very much remains. The essence of the person vanishes from the body. It is this essence—this spirit—which God Almighty created. Do not conflate the body with the spirit; the two are not the same. Christ Himself said,

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
- Matthew 10:28

Christ clearly shows the differentiation between the two separate components which make up our earthly selves. He places far more import upon our spirit than our flesh. As Christians, this fact should remain forefront in our minds. Sadly for too many, it does not and far too much time and effort is wasted by good people attempting to meld the body and soul together. The two are essentially incongruent as Paul pointed out in Romans:

“…but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”
- Romans 7:23-25

Returning to the ways upon which God presented himself to the human creation, the first method God used to allow humans to “see” him was to utilize spiritual entities of almost unlimited power. We call these beings angels, but that is not a terribly accurate term where applied to these particular spiritual entities. An angel is defined more as a messenger. These beings were less messengers than they were administrators. Their goal was to create a realm, populate that realm with a creation capable of housing the spirit with which God Almighty could imbue, and then present the face of God Almighty to that hybrid corporeal/spirit creation.

Genesis chapter one outlines the creation of humanity by the majority of these Spiritual entities. (Such beings are referred to as Celestial beings in 2nd Peter 2:10 and Jude 8) Genesis Chapter 2 begins with an outline of the creation of one particular tribe of human being by one particular Celestial being. This Celestial being is named Helel, which in the Hebrew means, “Light Bearer.” (Isaiah 14:12)

Orthodoxy has erroneously come to the conclusion that Genesis Chapter 1 and Genesis Chapter 2 are just an initial telling and then a more in-depth recap of the creation narrative. However as we have already discovered, the Genesis account was first presented as an oral history passed down from one generation to the next. This went on until Moses wrote it down. Outside of Moses specific tribe of people, however, the story continued to be told orally as it had been for thousands of years. Thus a true reading of Genesis Chapter 1 outlines the general creation of the WHOLE realm—universe, planets, time, et al. Then beginning with Genesis Chapter 2, the focus narrows dramatically and shifts only to the tribe of people specific to those who would eventually become known as the Hebrews. It is these people which the Celestial being, Helel, created and administered over. His job was to present the “face” of Almighty God to this creation. In this manner, Almighty God would have a relationship by proxy with His creation. This was the methodology God Almighty used for a specific, but multifold purpose. Each and every tribe of people created upon the whole earth were created in a similar manner by the hand of a Celestial being.

My lineage is English/Irish. I also have some Germanic and American Indian in the mix as well. I am like most people on the earth in that I am a mutt as far as my lineage is concerned. I am most certain that based upon my conclusions I am not of the creation of the Celestial Helel. That makes me no better or worse, it is simply a fact. My lineage came from the hand of another Celestial being. I do not know the beings name, but I am most certain that just as my lineage was created, so were others. Those others are as much human as I am, but they look differently.

I am going to use an example which most will find lacking or perhaps even gauche, but it will have to suffice for the purpose of this illustration. Consider that an auto maker designs and creates many different looking automobiles. They all fulfill an essential like function: transporting a driver and cargo, but they come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. I have often used a car and driver metaphor to explain the body and spirit. We humans do not realize that we are like the driver of a car. Because of this, we allow the car to drive us never understanding that we have ultimate control. We can step on the brake or the gas, we can steer left or right or straight, we can direct the car forward or put it into reverse. Most of us will spend the lifetime of the car encased within never realizing that all of the control of the vehicle was within our reach the whole time. Then the car finally breaks down for the last time and is beyond repair. We are forced to exit the vehicle and then see with clarity that it was really nothing but a shell; a mindless machine to which we gave over far too much control.

This is an imperfect, but hopefully somewhat adequate analogy between our spirits and our bodies. We can be created by Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Kia, GAZ, Nissan, etc., but we’re all just vehicles. We have different shapes and colors; some of us are faster than others, some of us are larger than others. Some make a different sound than others, but despite the differences, we’re still all the same. We aren’t chairs, we aren’t rocks, we aren’t trees, we aren’t battleships; we’re all a variation of a motorized vehicle which runs on wheels.  The cars may have been created by separate companies, but the drivers are all created and supplied by God Almighty. Because of that, there is absolutely no difference from one driver to another; all are loved equally by their creator notwithstanding the type of car they drive.

These Celestial entities—the creators of our “temporal vehicles,” were our first link with the creator of our spirit “the driver.” But this proved to be an imperfect means by which God Almighty could connect with His spiritual creation within this temporal realm. This is not due to any deficit on the part of God Almighty; He was well aware of the outcome and designed it as such. One of the aspects of the spiritual realm which is lost on most Christians or people of faith is that God Almighty is teaching these spiritual entities at the same time He is also teaching us. By failing to fulfill their obligation to be the “face of God Almighty” to humanity, these Celestial entities realized that the bias they hold against humanity is completely unfounded and misplaced. God was able to show them that they are really no better than us humans. God then removed them from their role as administrators over humanity and took that role upon Himself in the personage of Jesus Christ. Christ freed us from the yoke of the Celestial’s rule and freed us to be with Him upon our passing from this temporal realm. At some point in the future (and I am not going to attempt to blow smoke at anyone on this score; I do not yet know how or when), Christ will take over administration of the entire realm from the Celestial entities as well. Thus far, God Almighty has allowed them to continue in this role, even though Christ has all authority.

Thus in the meanwhile, we will exist here on this planet for a very short period of time as measured against the whole in our different colored and shaped “cars,” all attempting to navigate our way through the world until our cars are no longer viable and we have to exit.

I earlier had mentioned Hitler, Himmler and their affinity for the Aryan race. I return to that now to point out the inherent danger in regarding one group of people as superior to others. Stripped of our bodies, we are all spirit. We are all created purposely by the hand of Almighty God. We are all given an opportunity to visit this realm no matter how briefly. To those of us who are given much, much is expected. This is not to only mean those with money are to use that money to help others. That is certainly a part of it, but Christ is speaking more to the point of what we do with the opportunities this small patch of time on this earth affords us. Will we use our time to attempt to surmount others, to elevate ourselves over other people, or will we use our time as Christ intended and be His face to our fellow man? Can we succeed where the Celestial rulers failed?

The flesh constantly pulls at us. The body is extraordinarily needy. We are so closed off from one another while we reside in the flesh that if we understood the pure unity that is in Christ, I don’t think we could bear to return to the isolation of the body. Much of this isolation could be overcome if we were honest and open with one another in love, but our humanity prevents such from being a part of our nature. Our bodies are a product of this realm. This realm is finite and so is our flesh. Our fleshly order of thinking is therefore placed on a default setting of “finite” which must be consciously changed. In order to change this setting, one must first be made aware of the need for the change. This is the function of the Christian; one who is in a relationship with Christ and who seeks to help others to join in that relationship. This is not a job for the fainthearted or the prideful. When Christ told us to count the cost of being a disciple, He was not kidding. (Luke 14:25 – 34)

Orthodoxy struggles with much of these concepts because orthodoxy is born of people who allowed the “cars” to do the driving rather than taking the control given to them by Christ’s authority. As I have highlighted in other commentaries, the pure truth of the Gospels have long been overshadowed by the agenda’s of man. Does such mean that I am not wrong in my conclusions? I suppose the most honest answer I can give is that I have reached my conclusions through much prayer and research. I had long pondered the situations respecting the various races on this planet and further pondered why if we are all cousins of a kind, we would believe some are better (or worse) than others. Orthodoxy had no adequate answer to the question and really neither did secular anthropology.

I had come to an early conclusion that perhaps the variant in racial makeup came about when “God” confused the languages of the people at the tower of Babel, but moved away from that model as it was simply not tenable. Later based upon finding in genetics, I considered that Adam and Eve were most likely created looking like a mix of all the variant of races which exist now on the planet. Through breeding with brothers and sisters sharing similar features and colors, certain genes were made dominate and others were made recessive. Over years, the dominate genes in these particular groups settled into what we now regard as present day racial make-up. I had to also abandon that model as untenable. It presumed far too much which was not supported by the evidence.

In the end the question remained with no answers. My conclusion with respect to the racial or lineage question I hold at present is not any more fantastic than is the Theory of Evolution, or Panspermia. If one is more comfortable believing these Celestial beings I have described as our creators and initial administrators as extraterrestrials, I suppose that is up to them. To describe a spiritual entity as an extraterrestrial would essentially be correct as they are not native to this realm. That they are in any way corporeal or humanoid in the sense we usually ascribe to ETs, I would have to politely disagree.

In the end, it is important to realize that Jesus Christ is creator God Almighty. He came to free us from our Celestial oppressors and when the time comes when we last close our eyes on this earth, we will become very aware that the variety of races enjoyed by humanity was a gift given to us which we have by and large squandered.

















Friday, March 21, 2014

Noah:

Who was he and did he look anything like Russell Crow?

All contents copyright © 2014 by M.L. Wilson. All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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We are in a season of Biblically themed films. Both a repackaging of the TV mini-series, Son of God and Noah are hitting the big screen this year. Obviously there is much which can be mined for a good tale in both of these characters, but there is also much lore surrounding both men and their times. Numerous books have been written about Christ and no doubt more will be written in the years to come. Less has been written about Noah and the world he grew up in, however. His world before the flood is a strange one and not much is widely known. This commentary is about the Darren Aronofsky movie, Noah and my thoughts.

Readers of my books or my blog are already well aware that my book series, The GOD Principle is peripherally about the story of Noah and the Ark. There is much more to the tale, of course, but it winds up predictably for anyone vaguely familiar with the Biblical story. The orthodox explanation goes: Because of man’s evil, God decides to destroy the earth with water. Noah is commanded to build a large Ark, gather animals and his family and climb onboard to ride out the storm. It is upon this premise which writer/producer/director Darren Aronofsky created his epic, Noah.

I had no idea this movie was being considered when I began to write the outline for my series. I conceptualized my novel, The GOD Principle, back in the summer of 2004 after giving many years of thought to writing a book concerning my beliefs of the end times. At that point, I was wrestling with many conflicting doctrines and beliefs supported by orthodoxy.  I had come to some different conclusions and decided to write a story as to how I thought the “Great Deception” (Matthew 24:24, and the Book of Revelation) would be perpetrated. This became the framework which is The GOD Principle. As I began to do research for the book, the entire premise began to change. It did remain essentially a book on eschatology, but I realized I needed to paint a picture as to how I concluded the ending I visualized. This brought me back to a pivotal point in human history; it brought me back to an almost unknown piece of scripture found in Genesis 6:1- 4.

I was raised primarily as a Baptist and my understanding of God was primarily shaped by their theology. There are many paths I have chosen in my life as a result of their teachings which I have struggled with mightily since my teen years. I often wonder whether I would have been better off simply remaining immersed in my formative Baptist theology, or whether the struggles I have endured since leaving those teachings has been the better path. But you can’t unring a bell. What I have learned since beginning my journey over twenty years ago has led me to conclude that my Baptist brethren might be well meaning, but they are very wrong as to the identity of God Almighty. My commentaries illustrate the many differences in belief quite adequately, so I’ll not waste time going over them here.

As I began my research, I was brought back to this point in human history whereupon it appears a particular type or class of angel came down to earth in human form for a specific purpose. This purpose appears to be to create a race of beings who would regard these angels as god, rather than God Almighty. Of course you won’t expressly read this in Genesis, but when the Bible is taken as a whole, it is clear there was a creation which was far more powerful than a typical human being and that this creation subjugated humanity for a time. These were the creations which gave rise to the Grecian mythological creatures called Titans. The entire hierarchical structure of the heavenlies was mirrored in not only Greek mythology, but Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Norse, Chinese—even Native American histories contain this hybrid spiritual-human structure.

As part of my research, I read quite a bit on these mythological histories. I was struck by how easily much of it fit into the Biblical narrative once the orthodox bias was “washed away.” What bias in specific am I talking about? Well in Christian Orthodoxy, the incident outlined in Genesis 6:1 – 4 is dismissed as being misinterpreted. Instead of spiritual beings having come to earth to take human females as mates and have children with them, orthodoxy decided that a better story is that the “Sons of God” (Genesis 6:2) are actually those people who were born from the line of Seth. The “Daughters of Men” (genesis 6:2) are those who were born of the line of Cain.

A bit quick bit of Biblical history: Cain killed his brother Abel early on in the narrative and was banished to a far off land called Nod. Now interestingly enough, Nod was evidently already populated because Cain was concerned the people there would learn of his evil act and seek to kill him. (Genesis 4:15 – 16) God promises Cain that he will not come to harm and places an unknown mark upon him to ward off any malevolent attack. Cain goes to Nod, takes a wife (it is a presumption that Cain took one of his sisters to Nod with him; the Biblical account does not say that) and raises a family. Sometime after Cain and Abel’s birth, Adam and Eve also have a son they name Seth. The Biblical account seems to place this birth chronologically long after Cain’s expulsion, but it is difficult to tell. Since Seth remained “good” and Cain was already demonstratively “bad,” orthodoxy paints the Sethian line as that which is of God and the Cainian line as that which is of men.

I researched this theory to the best of my ability and found that it first gained widespread acceptance after Constantine the Great had usurped Christianity. For Constantine to succeed in his goal (reunification of the Roman Empire under his rule), a clear hierarchy had to be established. Thus any scriptures which gave the impression something else was going on in the spiritual realm were excised. One such book which I relied on heavily for my research was the Book of Enoch. This book discussed the situation which is only hinted at in Genesis 6:1 – 4 in great detail. It not only explicitly states the angels came down to earth, but it gives their names, their spiritual station (Watchers or Grigori) and outlines their reasoning. It also described a spiritual world which would have left Constantine struggling to marry his empire were he to have allowed knowledge of this book to become widespread and accepted. No Old Testament book outside of Isaiah describes Christ with such clarity as does the Book of Enoch. I could not dismiss this book simply because my Baptist brethren had deemed it “as a work of Satan.” It was clear few of them had even read Enoch much less studied it.

When I concluded the Line of Seth-Cain explanation was not only flawed, but simply not tenable when one looks at Peter’s and Paul’s writings. The Sethian line contained some of the most barbaric human specimens recorded in the Bible. How can such behavior by Seth’s offspring even remotely be considered Godly? Paul wrote much about Powers and Authorities in the heavenly realms. He seems clear on the fact that we are not dealing with just one malevolent spiritual entity, but rather several. In the book of 2nd Peter and in Jude, these Powers and Authorities are referred to as Celestial beings. (2nd Peter 2:10, Jude 8)

One by one I researched the origin of various bedrock beliefs held by orthodoxy and came away with the fact that a great deal of it was either poor understanding of the scriptures, or was simply made up. From a “Young Earth Creationist” model to the “Line of Seth,” I kept finding out that what I had been taught as immutable truth was wrong. Were the people who taught me these errors aware of what they were doing? Not all; most were merely teaching what they had been taught. None ever thought to question the source. It is difficult to look at the Bible and decide that in order to really understand it, the entire book needs to be held up to the most strident critical review. Those who have done so in the past have either been deemed heroes by Christian orthodoxy because they side on the side of orthodoxy, or regarded as degenerate heretics because they find fault with orthodoxy.

I found myself in a nether world when I did my research. I wasn’t coming up with the answers which either side had ever come up with. What I discovered seemed to be completely new, except I knew that it wasn’t. I was merely uncovering what had been hidden over for thousands of years. None of what I found out were mistranslations of scripture or made up theology; it is what I discovered.

In my series, I make it clear which I regard as truth and where I take literary license. My series was designed to make the reader aware that the story of Noah they had learned was only a small portion of the whole story and even at that was not the truth. By writing the story the way I did, I wanted to educate people as to the events I believe are closer to the actual truth of the situation. This has placed me at odds with not only my Christian brethren, but surprisingly with the Atheist community as well. Let me explain:

As I researched my book and found out that many of the “truths” I had learned were not actual truths, I also found out that many of the arguments which my atheist friends had embraced dissolved. When I removed these arguments from the equation, they suddenly found themselves without a foundational basis for NOT believing. Rather than please my atheist friends, it enraged them. Thus in their hatred of my conclusions, I managed to place the Fundamentalists Christians and the Atheists on one side of the aisle opposing me on the other. It may be irony at its finest, but was not my goal.

This refusal to explore theology outside of what was codified by the Ecumenical Councils, led Darren Aronofsky to consider none of what I discovered in the making of his film. He borrowed bits and pieces from the Book of Enoch, but doesn’t understand the significance of the bits he used. He remains as clueless to the truth as do many of my longtime Christian friends. Even schooled pastors and Doctorates in Theology have frowned on my conclusions, but refuse to point out to me why they believe them to be in error. If anyone has ever worked hard on a particular project, presented it for vetting, told it was incorrect, but NOT told why it was incorrect, one can appreciate my present position—and frustration.

In the tale of Noah and the Ark, Noah is a surprisingly peripheral character. I did not realize this at first. As I learned more about the antediluvian world in which Noah was born, I came to the realization that there were more important characters in this drama who have been forgotten by history. Noah came along more or less as part of a “mop-up crew” after the fact. Noah’s name means, “Rest.” His sole role in this drama was to provide his people rest from the hundreds of years of misery which had been visited upon them by the errant actions of the Watchers and their hybrid offspring. Now to be clear, there is also symbolism in the structure of the Ark and how the entire situation foreshadows Christ. However much of this symbolism is lost if one does not regard the Watchers and their offspring as a part of the equation. This brings me to my next point.

Orthodoxy has laid the entire failure of humanity at the feet of mankind. In short, mankind was such a wretched creation that on their own, they screwed things up so magnificently God was forced—once again like the old man power washing the mold off of his driveway—to destroy the earth with water. How obtuse must God be to create something so flawed that He has to wipe the slate clean after only a couple of thousand years? One would think that Omniscience would mean just that with God. Evidently such is not necessarily the case. This seeming conundrum is a favorite of my atheist friends, by the way. From the early days of the Epicurean Riddle, atheists have loved pointing out how much God is either a clueless buffoon, or a malevolent bastard to treat humanity in the manner He has. By realizing that none of what occurred with the destruction of the earth was by God Almighty’s hand, I have enraged both camps; believers and non-believers.

If one reads the Gospels and truly understands Christ, one can see very clearly that the Old Testament god and Jesus Christ seem to have different goals and methodologies. Orthodoxy has fought valiantly to keep most of humanity from seeing the truth of this structure, but more and more people are becoming aware of the truth. My commentary on the Holy Trinity explains this in greater detail and is very much worth the read. Whether one agrees with my conclusions or not, the questions need to be asked and the orthodox answers need to be explored without fainting away. You can find that commentary here:


The essential reason the earth was destroyed in that antediluvian time was not because “Mother Earth” was upset at the flea-like human beings disrespecting the planet; it was destroyed because the true rulers of this realm—the Celestial beings—were trying (emphasis on TRYING) to rid their world of a pestilent creation called the Nephilim. The Nephilim were the “heroes of old, the men of renown.” spoken of in Genesis 6:4. Perspective is everything and if one understands the narrative, one becomes familiar with the fact that by the time of the great flood, most of the Nephilim had become larger than life figures which were worshipped and adored by most of humanity. These Nephilim—especially the first generation Nephilim—were incredibly powerful figures. They were not only physically stronger than an average human, but they were more intelligent; more cunning and shrewd.

But these creatures were oversized in other aspects of their personalities as well. Reading through mythology, one can see the Titans being given over very easily to their base passions almost without thought or care. This proved to be the weakness of the Nephilim. These were beings that were creatures of this realm. Humans, by contrast, are not. We are merely sojourners on this planet. Whether one wishes to believe in the spiritual realm or not, it is without argument that as humans we are here for only a brief period of time. A human being is essentially spirit. We belong to God Almighty. We are not a creation of this realm and that is what began the schism between the two creations. It also illustrated the strength the humans had over the Nephilim. Humans could listen to the whisperings of the Spirit for guidance from their God whereas the Nephilim could not.

Aronofsky squandered the opportunity to explore these conclusions. I cannot help but think that had he sought out those who knew just a little more about the subject matter than he did, his movie could have been so much better than a mere special effects display. I will applaud his choice of Russell Crow as Noah, however. Someone like Crow is visually what I imagined as I wrote my series. The Noah often portrayed as a bent over old man is not accurate and Aronofsky chose Crow wisely.

Writers may be maligned in Hollywood, but there is no movie without a script, and there is no script without a writer. Aronofsky wrote on a subject in which he had little knowledge. His epic Noah will suffer as a result. I realize that writing this commentary before the movie’s release puts me in a precarious situation. I could wind up looking like a fool if Noah becomes a block buster movie, but I don’t think it will happen. After you strip away the special effects, what have you got? No one who sees this film will walk out of the theater afterward having learned anything new. In this day of CGI, even the special effects—spectacular as they are certain to be—aren’t so special any longer.

I am not yet decided as to whether I will see the film. Having worked so many years to research my series and knowing that because of my particular station in life, I will most likely never have the opportunity to present it to the masses as has Darren Aronofsky, I find seeing yet another tedious telling of Noah and the Ark uninteresting. Perhaps once it is out on DVD I will rent it and take a look, but I highly doubt I will be one of the throng sitting in the darkened theater.


My point of writing this commentary is not to keep any from going to see Noah; people want to be entertained and will go and see it regardless anything I say. My point in this commentary was simply to make people aware of the fact that the story has so much more to it than anything Christian or Jewish orthodoxy is willing to reveal and far more than the atheist community is aware. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised and Aronofsky’s Noah will spur people to search more on the subject; to seek out the truth. That may lead them to me and my conclusions. Perhaps I may have my opportunity yet. That is largely up to all of you.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Hermeneutics:
What is it and why do we use it?

All contents copyright © 2014 by M.L. Wilson. All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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Through the course of writing my various commentaries on the Bible, I have been accused by more than one person of not adhering to various established disciplines while interpreting Biblical scripture.  The concern of these well meaning folks is that I am interpreting in error and thus am giving an erroneous explanation of what is going on in the various Biblical accounts I’ve thus far shared. I can certainly sympathize with their concerns; I have found myself more than a little perplexed from time to time from interpretations given by noted, lettered Biblical scholars. The list of these various interpretations in which these established disciplines were utilized is quite long from Dispensationalism to Kingdom Theology. I will not go too deeply into these two schools of thought except to say they stand in complete and absolute opposition to one another, yet the conclusions of each were reached utilizing these established Biblical disciplines I am accused of NOT using myself.

The foremost of these disciplines is called Hermeneutics. This is word which sounds far more intimidating than it really is. This from Wikipedia for expediency’s sake:

Hermeneutics /hɜrməˈnjuːtɪks/ is the theory of text interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts. The terms "hermeneutics" and "exegesis" are sometimes used interchangeably. Hermeneutics is a wider discipline that includes written, verbal, and nonverbal communication. Exegesis focuses primarily upon texts. Hermeneutic, as a singular noun, refers to a single particular method or strand of interpretation (see, in contrast, double hermeneutic). The understanding of any written text requires hermeneutics.
Hermeneutics is derived from the Greek word ρμηνεύω (hermeneuō, 'translate' or 'interpret'). It was introduced into philosophy mainly through the title of Aristotle's work On Interpretation, commonly referred to by its Latin title De Interpretatione. It is one of the earliest (c. 360 B.C.) extant philosophical works in the Western tradition to deal with the relationship between language and logic in a comprehensive, explicit, and formal way.
The early usage of "hermeneutics" places it within the boundaries of the sacred. A divine message must be received with implicit uncertainty regarding its truth. This ambiguity is an irrationality; it is a sort of madness that is inflicted upon the receiver of the message. Only one who possesses a rational method of interpretation (i.e., a hermeneutic) could determine the truth or falsity of the message.
Here is a clearer understanding of the discipline by Daniel Little, University of Michigan:

There have been two very different approaches to social explanation since the nineteenth century, and they differ most fundamentally over a distinction between explanation and understanding or cause and meaning (von Wright 1971). This distinction divides over two ways of understanding a why question when it comes to social events. “Why did it happen?” may mean, “What caused it to happen?”; or it may mean, “Why did the agents act in such a way to bring it about?”.  
 The hermeneutic approach holds that the most basic fact of social life is the meaning of an action. Social life is constituted by social actions, and actions are meaningful to the actors and to the other social participants. Moreover, subsequent actions are oriented towards the meanings of prior actions; so understanding the later action requires that we have an interpretation of the meanings that various participants assign to their own actions and those of others. So the social sciences (or the human sciences) need to be hermeneutic: researchers need to devote their attention to the interpretation of the meanings of social actions.  (Central contributors to this tradition include (Dilthey 1989), (Weber 1949), (Ricoeur 1976), and (Gadamer 1977). See (Sherratt 2006) for a very good treatment of hermeneutic philosophy of social science.)
Hermeneutics is named for the Greek god, Hermes, son of Zeus. Hermes is a god of transitions and boundaries. He is quick and cunning, and moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. Given the subject matter of Judeo-Christian scriptures, utilizing the discipline named for a mythological Greek god set forth by a Greek Philosopher (Aristotle) is rather curious.  I’ll circle back to that later.

While the discipline of Hermeneutics associated with philosophy dates to approximately the time of Aristotle (360 BC), Biblical Hermeneutics came about much later and initially broke into two separate camps: Jewish interpretation and Christian interpretation. While Christians embraced the Old Testament scriptures as well, these scriptures experienced quite a bit over overlap with their Jewish brethren. However given the starkly different beliefs of the two camps, the interpretations were vastly different. Clearly the Jews did not regard Christ as the Messiah, thus any interpretations of scripture using Talmudical Hermeneutics  (מידות שהתורה נדרשת בהן ) painted quite a different picture.

Even within Christianity, the application of Hermeneutics has had an uneven history with respect to adhering to strict disciplines. Grammar and exegesis utilized as a point of proof seems to take a back seat to presupposition and there is the main problem with the application of Hermeneutics to faith. People of different faiths believe different things. How sincere will one be to follow the evidence provided by a strict application of Hermeneutics if it begins to run counter their belief? In truth, not too many.  Thus a sort of “safety net” is first put into place; parameters which will ensure that the evidence leads to only one conclusion. This is the presupposition.

In Catholicism, this presupposition (coupled with the necessities dictated by Constantine the Great) led to the Apostle Peter being regarded as the first Pope. Because of misapplied Hermeneutical interpretation, when Jesus said to Peter, “…and on this rock, I will build My church...”  The Ecumenical Councils found justification in imposing an earthly hierarchal structure, placing layers between man and God. The whole scripture passage doesn’t appear to me to impart that message, but I don’t have an agenda to fill as did Constantine the Great.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
- Matthew 16:13-19

Biblical interpretation under the direction of Constantine created a meaning not readily apparent to the Spirit-filled Christian reading that passage. Could it be interpreted to mean what Constantine decided it had to mean? That certainly seems to be the case as the 1.2 Billion Catholics throughout the world according to census figures compiled by the Vatican in 2013 can attest. But to a good majority of Protestants today, that Hermeneutical derived conclusion remains in error; Protestants do not see Christ naming Peter to be the specific head or director of the church on earth.

I will slightly digress here to allow my opinion on the matter. What I personally see in this passage is Christ speaking about believers in a general and Peter’s belief in Him as a specific example of faith. It was upon that rock of faith Christ would build his church. How radically different the two meaning are. The true meaning was completely lost due to an agenda and a presupposition. The truth was buried for approximately twelve hundred years, and to approximately 1/7th of the world’s population, it still is.

This is the essential problem with the modern application of Hermeneutics to the Bible. Once again I realize that I am opening up myself to a hail of criticism for having the temerity, the unmitigated gall, the unbridled hubris to attack such a tried and true discipline. But I stand by my claim; it is a poor discipline to be applied to divinely inspired works and I will give you my reasons as to the why by the end of this commentary. In the meantime, I am going to do my utmost to lay out my argument, begging the reader’s indulgence.

As I have already pointed out in just two areas of belief above, these are the essential reasons for the uneven history of the application of Hermeneutics to the Bible. In matters Biblical, it appears prior to implementing the discipline, one MUST have an idea of where they desire to go; a presupposition. Once the path has been constructed, the Hermeneutical discipline is applied to present the “proper” interpretation and give such validity. If one believes Christ wanted the Apostle Peter to be the Pope, one will utilize the proper Hermeneutic interpretation to arrive at that conclusion. If one does not believe that Christ intended for the Apostle Peter to be the first Pope, the same utilization of Hermeneutic discipline is applied. But is this how God wanted us to learn? Ah… and there is the rub.

Entering into the study of Hermeneutics, I would like the reader to consider this small example of the problems inherent with application of a presupposition. Consider this passage from Luke:

And he took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  
- Luke 22:19

In Catholicism, this passage has been interpreted into the doctrine of Transubstantiation. This means that at the time of the Eucharist, the bread and the wine literally become the fleshly body and the blood of Jesus Christ. This was a doctrine first conceptualized in the 11th Century by Hildebert de Lavardin, Archbishop of Tours. It was held up as legitimate by the Council of Trent in 1551, being called, “…that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood – the species only of the bread and wine remaining – which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation"

Catholicism, interprets the scriptures such as the one from Luke above along with the Eucharistic discourse given by Christ in John 6, and in 1st  Corinthians 10-11, where Paul equates the body and blood of Jesus with the "bread" and "cup of benediction" used in the Eucharist. Suffice to say that Protestants did not arrive at the same conclusion as did the Catholics on this matter, despite the standard rubric utilized by both parties to ferret out error. Why would this be? My answer comprises the remainder of this commentary.

The Bible as a unified compiled work did not come into being until Jerome’s translation of the Latin Vulgate circa 382 AD. Under the direction of Pope Damasus I, Jerome was commissioned to transcribe the Greek Septuagint and make revisions to the Vetus Latina (old Latin translations) of the four Gospels from the best of the old Greek texts they had available. Though it wasn’t his intent to make a new version of the Bible, the very nature of the work and the constant revisions necessary are reflected in voluminous correspondence. Latin was the official language of Rome, especially among the schooled and nobility, thus the Vulgate was transcribed and we had our first sanctioned codex of scripture—the Bible.

How exactly was Hermeneutical discipline applied to these works prior to this time? How exactly was Hermeneutical discipline applied to the transcription under Jerome’s care? What of the many epistles which may have been written, circulated about the Empire, but were lost prior to compiling any of the works which make up the New Testament? As an example, between 1st and 2nd Corinthians, it is quite clear the Apostle Paul received a letter from the Corinthian Church. 2nd Corinthians is an answer to their questions, but is it reasonable to believe that the letter written to Paul would have been just as important as a part of scripture? Would those early Christians not have been just as divinely inspired to write what they did if Paul felt compelled to answer them?

Take for example this passage from the Paul’s letter to the Colossians:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than Christ.”                                                          - Colossians 2:8(emphasis mine)
In theology, there are three classical interpretations for what it is Paul was saying here. I wish for the reader to pause for a moment and reflect on what I just imparted to you: There are three classical interpretations rather than one. Ruminate upon that while I continue. I will cover the three in brief here as they are covered in greater detail elsewhere. 

(I have provided a link to one source here: http://www.xenos.org/essays/stoich.htm )

·         The first view is that Paul is talking about the Old Testament Law.

·         The Second is that Paul is referring to Demonic spirits.

·         The third is that Paul is talking about religious principle, primarily those which existed before Christ. It would appear there is some overlap between the first and the third.

There are a host of theologians over the course of centuries who have all fallen into different groups regarding this point Paul was trying to make. So what is the truth? It would seem that based upon the various adherents of any one particular belief, the truth is what you agree with. Hermeneutical discipline was merely a tool to utilize in order to buttress the given argument.

Obviously I have my own opinion which I have given in earlier commentaries. I arrived at my conclusions through years of study and prayerful contemplation. Paul makes much of the fact throughout his letters that our realm is ruled by unseen Powers and Authorities. Since Christ came to this realm to redeem us back to Himself, it would appear as though we were under the rule of someone or something else.

The author of Hebrews makes an interesting claim with respect to Christ and the Rulers and Authorities:

It is not to angels that He has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.                                                                          – Hebrews 2:5 (emphasis mine)                   
Clearly the author of Hebrews is stating that angels—spiritual entities—have no place or rule in the world to come, implying that they already posses such rule here and now. In 1st Corinthians, Paul seems to reiterate this thought:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then when He comes, those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, Authority and Power.
- 1st Corinthians 15:22-24 (emphasis mine)                   
The Greek usage of the word “Dominion” or “Kingdom” here is Basileia (βασιλεία). Strongs defines this word as:

royal power, kingship, dominion, rule;
not to be confused with an actual kingdom, but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom;
of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah;
of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah's kingdom; a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah
- Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #932 (emphasis mine)
The implication is clear. Paul regarded his world post Christ’s ascension as still being under the rule of spiritual entities of vast power. This condition would persist until the end whereupon Christ would remove these spiritual entities from power. Given the wealth of evidence just in Paul’s own writing, why would any believe Paul was merely talking about the strictures of the Old Testament Law? The answer, of course, is presupposition. If one would faint away at the thought of there being spiritual entities of vast power who are the true rulers of this realm, then one will “read” the evidence in such a way as to make such entities disappear. This type of parsing of scripture using Hermeneutics is akin to an ostrich sticking its head in a hole in the ground in an attempt to hide.

Hermeneutics was first applied to philosophy. While I will admit that I may be on somewhat shaky ground here, I will state that human philosophy as such is a singularly human construct. It does not mean that a philosophy is absent any truth; I find quite the contrary. But one usually will not assert that philosophy is a product of divine inspiration. (I did say I was on shaky ground, didn’t I?)  So what is divine inspiration? Why would I separate such works from that of philosophy? Let me endeavor to explain the difference—at least to my mind.

This from Wikipedia for expediency’s sake:
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. In more casual speech, by extension, "philosophy" can refer to "the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group".
The word "philosophy" comes from the Ancient Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom". The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and "philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.
I am going to state clearly that when one is dealing with Spiritual matters, human logic and reason may sometimes not apply. (cue the groans from all corners) What do I mean by that? Actually it is quite simple. As a point of human logic and reason, Jesus Christ should not exist. How can one be God AND a man? How can an individual exist in eternity AND exist simultaneously in a given, finite place in space and time? From the laws we understand in our temporal realm, that would seem to be an impossibility. Human logic and reason presupposes a certain “end game” if you will; it presupposes that certain truths remain absolute. Hermeneutics where applied to philosophy would follow that end.

But how does that same discipline apply to writing which doesn’t rely on human logic and reason? How can one apply human logic to Christ walking on water? The basic laws of physics would negate His being able to walk on water. The polarization of the molecules of water create surface tension—a type of skin—which is strong enough to allow very light object to remain on its surface. (a leaf, small insects, et al) The weight of a fully grown man, however, would far exceed this molecular bond and he would fall through. We all know this as a matter of fact, so logic (which presupposes this outcome) dictates.

I have outlined in an earlier commentary my thoughts on scripture. I regard them as divinely inspired, but they are not the inerrant word of God. (That commentary can be found here: 

http://thegodprinciplebook.blogspot.com/2014/02/is-bible-inerrant-all-contents.html )

It was more than twenty years after Christ’s ascension  that we can date the first of the known works which make up the New Testament, that being Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica circa 52 AD. While it is quite possible that there were other letters sent back and forth during these early years of the infant church, without evidence to support that assertion, there is no way to know. But whether there was the written word or not, is not the point. For the majority of the existence of the Hebrew people from Noah on (to be fair, from Adam and Eve on), there was no written word to chronicle these people and God’s admonitions to them. Such did not occur until approximately 1485 BC with Moses. If one opts to place the birth of our earth and people at approximately six thousand years that would me that approximately half that period we were without any written record; there was nothing to hold up to critical analysis.

The intent of Christ was not that we necessarily compile a written word; the intent of Christ was that we form interpersonal relationships. These relationships were to be centered on the Truth of Jesus Christ. As we enter into this relationship with Christ and by extension other Christians, we are to widen that circle to include those who don’t yet share in that relationship. This was the Church which Christ told Peter He would build—on that Rock of Faith. At this time in history, there was no critical analysis of the letters which were being written, no critical analysis of the Gospels which had been penned. These were people in a close, Christ-centered relationship which wrote what they knew as a result of that Christ-centered relationship. Their works were the result of “Divine Inspiration,” an outgrowth of that Christ-centered relationship. How does one decide on a matrix which will quantify the results of these inspired works? Certainly it would seem that employing a man-made construct would be the absolutely wrong thing to so. Let me explain:

In the book of Acts, we see a situation whereupon the Bereans (a people who lived in what is now known as Veria in Greek Macedonia, northern Greece) were preached to about Christ by the Apostle Paul and Silas. Upon hearing their words, the Bereans searched through the Hebrew Scriptures to make certain that what they were being told was truth. As Paul and Silas were preaching Christ, they utilized a common thread with the Hebrew Scriptures to point out His validity within them. This did not sit well with the Jews who were in Thessalonica. That Jews in Berea were being converted based upon the evidence in the Hebrew Scriptures was simply too much to bear. As far as they were concerned, the Hebrew Scriptures were NOT to be used to validate Christ. Period.

While this stirred some discord in Berea, Paul was sent to Athens where he continued preaching. There he ran into philosophers and the stoics. Upon hearing what he was saying, they became perplexed. Paul was alarmed at the plethora of idols all about the Greek city and was advancing the idea that there was only one God and He presented Himself in the personage of the Christ. To the Athenians, this was interesting enough for them. However when Paul got to the resurrection, most of them begged off. To their logic and reasoning—their Hermeneutic discipline negated any validity of a man dying, being buried for three days and then coming back to life. Hermeneutical discipline failed to buttress the validity of the Christ by the very people who pioneered the Hermeneutic discipline.

So the Jews who had their own method for interpreting the scriptures failed to agree with Paul on the nature of the Christ. Likewise the Greek Philosophers who spent a great deal of their time ruminating of various philosophical disciplines failed to agree with Paul on the nature of the Christ. Would not an unbiased view of the account offer up only one true interpretation regardless the people doing the interpretation? “But that is not fair!” one may say. “People are free to believe or disbelieve. They are free to ignore the evidence presented before them.” True enough, but Paul handed them no Hermeneutical argument as such; Paul simply told them what happened as he was taught it. As any good Bible student is aware, Paul was taught by the risen Christ.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.
- 1st Corinthians 2:6-8 (emphasis mine)
And that brings me to my next point. Paul and his conversion, his teaching via the Spirit is really the model for all Christians. We can learn the truth the EXACT same way Paul learned the truth. I would be so bold—and confident to say that there have been people on this earth who have lived in the years since Paul who have learned from Christ in the exact same way. These are people who had no formal training or schooling; they were ignorant of such words as “Exegesis” or “Hermeneutics.” Yet they were given information directly by God Almighty. These were people who because they were not puffed up with knowledge gleaned from the hallowed halls of academia God found open and willing. These were people who could hear the truth because they were not too busy listening for the applause of man.

When modern teachers of theology dismiss their Christian brethren so quickly for revelations because they have not been properly schooled, what exactly are they saying about the early church fathers? What are they saying about Christ? Clearly the imposition of these restrictions put in place by these self-anointed “gatekeepers of the truth,” would keep even the Christ from being eligible to preach on His life.

Geerhardus Vos (1862 – 1948) was a Dutch Reformed pastor and a Calvinist. He was educated at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids Michigan and then Princeton Theological Seminary. He received his doctorate in Arabic Studies from the Philosophy Faculty of Strassburg University in 1888.  “He was probably the best exegete Princeton ever had,” Benjamin B. Warfield once told Louis Berkhof. Abraham Kuyper was so taken with his academic acumen that Kuyper offered him the chair of Old Testament studies at the Free University of Amsterdam when he was only twenty-four years old. J. Gresham Machen commented that if he knew as much as he did, he would be writing all the time. Cornelius Van Til considered him the most erudite man he had ever known.

By all accounts, Vos was most comfortable studying and teaching, avoiding attention as a result of the response to his many works. His area of expertise was eschatological studies. Briefly, eschatology is the study of “end things,” in this case, the end of this present realm. For all his accolades and education, Vos had a difficult time looking at the broader picture and instead focused on marrying the God of the Old Testament with that of Jesus Christ. This isn’t to dismiss Vos’ work; quite the contrary. But it is to illustrate that despite his advanced education and accessibility to the best information of his day, Vos remained mired in tradition which severely clouded his studies. His Hermeneutical conclusions always supported his beliefs rather than the evidence.

I firmly believe Vos was a man of God and followed the leading of his heart. I am also not above seeing that God uses people and circumstances which best fit the age they exist in. It could well be said that Geerhardus Vos did just as God wanted him to do to properly answer the questions put before those within his particular sphere of influence. Vos had to fight back against the onslaught of very Liberal theologians who, goaded by Darwinian logic, sought to diminish Christ and His works, distilling everything down to a moral equation. Despite Vos’ stilted view, his goal was to elevate Christ and keep people aware. Perhaps a gentler hand in that chaotic era wouldn’t have sufficed.  

Vos was very firmly attached the idea that human beings were a sinful creation, destined to hell lest they come to know Christ and repent of their evil ways. Liberal theologians of his era didn’t care for such an outcome, but had no more understanding of scripture than did Vos. Like the atheists of today, they simple found it more expedient to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” and reject God’s deity altogether.

The problem as I have already pointed out in my commentary on the “5 Points of Calvinism,” is that such a stance, no matter how well intentioned, relegates the majority of humanity - since the very foundations of the earth were laid - to a fiery hell. Such is not of God and will only be supported by Hermeneutics if one enters into the study with a presupposition. (The Atheist argument has also been addressed in my commentary, “Do Atheists Have A Point?”)

With all due respect to Geerhardus Vos—and others who have dedicated their lives to academic study of God whether it be to prove or disprove, I would say that not stepping back to analyze God from the perspective of God has taken them off the path of truth. God is not human. To anthropomorphize God in any way outside of the Christ is to build upon a flawed premise which will lead to a flawed conclusion. As Christians, we’re called to a very simple life. We are to emulate Christ in all we do. We are to allow others not already in a relationship with Christ to be able to see Christ in our actions. If we are not doing that, it really does not matter how many degrees or letters one has after his name. Paul pointed this out in 1st Corinthians 13:1:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
Theologians, teachers, pastors and other learned individuals know where to find the verse in the Bible by heart, but they NEVER think it applies to them. They have placed themselves above such humility because God has already validated them by virtue of their positions, degrees and letters. Well then call me Nathan, because I’ve got news for such people.

In my more than half-century of life, I have seen enough in religious circles to know one thing with absolute certainty: Not a one of these lettered theologians knows the actual details of what went down during Christ’s ministry, or the time of the formation of the early church. This is where secular history is extraordinarily valuable. It is one of the main reasons I immerse myself so much in the history of the entire world, and not just what was recorded in the Biblical texts. It isn’t that I don’t regard these texts as legitimate, but it is that they were usually written to a select group of people for a specific purpose. Biblical Hermeneutics dismisses all of this because prior to the execution of a particular study, the predetermined objective is already decided upon. The discipline of Hermeneutics is merely misapplied to buttress the predetermined objective. This will be argued heatedly by my detractors, but consider the multitude of religious thought just within Protestant denominations. There are quite a few. Some major ones raise to the top like cream, but there are lesser ones as well.

Now consider that the seminaries which school those pastors and Doctors of Theology all have classrooms and teach their version of Hermeneutical disciplines. Employing Hermeneutics, one group will stake their life on a doctrine called “The Rapture.” Employing Hermeneutics, another group will stake their life on a doctrine which asserts that it is the responsibility of Christians today to “cleanse the earth” so that Christ can return: Dominion Theology. When one examines these two theologies, one will quickly see that they stand in direct opposition to one another. The former doctrine holds to a view that at a certain point, Christ will whisk His children off this planet so they will avoid the calamity He is about to visit upon the earth. The latter doctrine holds to a view that in order for Christ to return, this present earth must be cleansed of all evil. Can you imagine the objective of this particular movement? That which is not considered of God, must be excised so Christ can return.

Let me reiterate: Two different conclusions reached using the same Biblical scriptures and the same Hermeneutical discipline. How is this possible? The answer is one I have already given. The objective of each was already laid out and both the scriptures and the discipline were merely tools of validation.

So what was missing that this could happen to cause these two diametrically opposed conclusions? First, be aware that it is not just these two views, but a host of others which lie in between.  What is missing is the Spirit. I know that sounds far too simple, but that is the answer. It is the ONLY answer. Man-made constructs act to nullify the ability of the Spirit to work in our hearts and our minds. When we utilize these various disciplines in place of the Spirit, we are telling God that we know how to get closer to Him better than He does.

For Peter and John to confront the “Doctorates of Theology” of their day with the teachings they’d received from the Spirit took tremendous faith. But in Acts 4:8, it doesn’t say, “Then Peter, filled with the knowledge of years of study and verifiable Hermeneutical harmony of the scriptures…” Instead Acts 4:8 begins, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them…” The religious leaders were astounded. Despite what they may have thought about their own pedigrees, it was clear they were standing before two humble men—who just happened to know a great deal more about the subject matter then they did. The reason goes back to that explanation in verse 8; “Filled with the Holy Spirit.”

In my commentaries I buck quite a bit of tradition. I don’t necessarily like having to point out how much we’ve allowed the works of man to seep into and replace what should be solely the abode of God, but someone has to. In my younger days, I lamented not having had the opportunity to go to seminary and learn. I dearly desired to study with others and bounce concepts off of learned scholars, but my life’s path was to take me elsewhere. Of course I never lost my curiosity and while I still do not understand God to the degree that I would like, I do try to trust Him. When God tells us that He will impart His wisdom to us through His Spirit, when He tells us to seek Him first, and then all the rest will be added to us, then I have to believe Him.

Thus in my various studies, I have seen many good people who have suffered terribly because they have done exactly what I am endeavoring to do now. I don’t regard myself a modern-day martyr and let me be perfectly clear: I do not covet such a position. However I realize there is cause and effect. Both Peter and John were threatened by the “Doctorates of Theology” in their day as recounted in Acts. These "learned theologians" were men who simply could not abide these bedraggled Christian upstarts who had no formal schooling coming in and telling them they were wrong. To concede such would have been bad for their business. To be certain, business for those religious leaders—just as it is for those in the business of religion today—was pretty good. Unfortunately for the “Doctorates,” too many of the “simpletons” (read Christ-believing people) in the crowd were in agreement with Peter and John and what they had preached. It forced the religious leaders to begrudgingly back down after issuing a few more threats.

Academia has its place and I am well aware of that. However just like with how we as Christians have remade the image of the church into that of an angelic hierarchy, we have also done the same with our institutions of higher learning. We do not teach our seminary students truth; we indoctrinate them and call it truth. After careful examination, it would seem that “truth” is a relative term. Every seminary teaches their version of “truth” and their version only. Every seminary uses the same tools, but only to buttress their version of the truth. When the sought objective is already decided upon, of what use are the tools? If one were to have given Michelangelo a block of marble already sculpted into a figure, he would have little use for the chisel and sanding cloth. Such tools may have made it look as though he did something, but he’ll know that he did not.

Christ desires a relationship with us. He loves us and wants our lives to be lived for the brief period of time we are on this planet with purpose. As a people, we are more content when we have purpose. Our purpose as Christians is to usher as many of our fellow human beings into the same love relationship with Christ we experience. We are to revel with them in their victories and cry with them in their sorrows. We are to comfort them and support them through the good and bad times in their walk—and they’re to do the same for us. This is the truth which has been lost by the influence of the teaching of angels which Paul warned us about.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
I want you to know, brothers that the Gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
- Galatians 1:6-12
Need I be the one to point out by virtue of that dialogue Paul would be invalidated as a leader or teacher in the modern church? The mere fact he asserts the claim that he learned from no man is enough right there. What is a seminary if not one man teaching another? Does the Spirit figure in this instruction? I would dearly like to believe so, and despite my seeming issues against orthodox methodology, I know the Spirit can and does still work. But like the Pharisees of old, their resistance blunts the effect.

There is no way I could make it through seminary today. It is not that I couldn’t write the type of papers they want to see and pass their exams; rather it is that like Paul, I would not be doing so to please man, but to please God. In order to do that, I would have to present something other than what is taught in seminary. God has placed these thoughts and observations upon my heart. I realize this will put me at odds with those who hold to orthodox views; they have much to protect. To cede the fact that what they may have learned is in error takes such people out of the pulpit and places them in the pews. Such is a little like always having had the benefit of flying first class and then facing the prospect of having to ride coach; you just cannot go back.

Let me be clear about something while we’re on that subject.  I have no desire to be anything other than what I am: a witness for Christ. The thought of leading a huge church or organization is an anathema to me. I realize that this is the sole motivating goal for a great many of our religious leaders today, but such is not of Christ. While I’ve got the time, I will endeavor to impart these thoughts to any who bother to read them. I am not desirous of tearing down the citadels of religion just to take over and build my own; I desire to see such fall away to be replaced by Christ. I know that this is mostly wishful thinking. Human beings simply aren’t that humble. Few are the men and women I’ve come across who have looked at the edifice they’ve built and walked away from it because they recognized the barrier it truly proved to be between them, their congregation and Christ. (To be fair, I have known a few who did do this.)

Do I believe that Hermeneutics can be used as an accurate tool to help to understand scripture? I believe that understanding the historical context, the proper definition and usage of the word and its attendant meaning within the narrative context, understanding the culture of the people who wrote it and to whom it was intended is vitally important. I have used such discernment when putting together my own commentaries. What I do not regard as useful is the application of such tools to prove a presupposition. This, I believe, I have proven occurs far too often within theological academia by virtue of the examples I have presented. The reader will have to ultimately decide whether my opinion has merit or not. To the students presently in academia, I would suggest pointing out the conflicts of the various doctrines to your instructors. Ask why such exists if all are applying Hermeneutics without a presupposition?

This brings me to my next point and really the most important one on this particular subject: The power of the Spirit. It is my firm belief that the best “Hermeneutical” discipline one can employ in attempting to understand scripture is the Spirit of the Living God. We were given the power of the Spirit, but the simple truth is we don’t really believe in the power of the Spirit. It is a given we don’t trust our fellow Christians to properly utilize the power of the Spirit; that is just too much spiritual freedom. “Someone has to keep a lid on things!” One can argue to the contrary, but the mere fact we continually use man-made concepts to understand that which Christ said He freely would give us proves the truth of my assertion.

The proof of a Christian is in their fruits and those fruits are easily manifest to those who already possess them. Preach Christ crucified and now risen; preach His love for all mankind, preach the relationship He so desperately wants and I’m pretty certain you’ll find very little need for Hermeneutical discipline. Scripture only gives a faint verification of what is already known in the heart through the Spirit.

I would urge those who have taken issue with my commentary to read this essay by Dr. Donald G. Bloesch Ph.D. While I do not agree with all he concludes, I was frankly well pleased by the fact that I had found his essay after I had completed my own and realized he had said many of the same things and raised similar issues. His essay can be found here:

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=0