Monthly Archives: November 2011

Jesus didn’t write a thing… (George MacDonald)


This is a short piece I’ve been meditating on, and wrestling with:

Our Lord had no design of constructing a system of truth in intellectual forms. The truth of the moment in its relation to him, The Truth, was what he spoke. He spoke out of a region of realities which he knew could only be suggested—not represented—in the forms of intellect and speech. With vivid flashes of life and truth his words invade our darkness, rousing us with sharp stings of light to will our awaking, to arise from the dead and cry for the light which he can give, not in the lightning of words only, but in indwelling presence and power.

How, then, must the truth fare with those who, having neither glow nor insight, will build intellectual systems upon the words of our Lord, or of his disciples? A little child would better understand Plato than they St Paul. The meaning in those great hearts who knew our Lord is too great to enter theirs. The sense they find in the words must be a sense small enough to pass through their narrow doors. And if mere words, without the interpreting sympathy, may mean, as they may, almost anything the receiver will or can attribute to them, how shall the man, bent at best on the salvation of his own soul, understand, for instance, the meaning of that apostle who was ready to encounter banishment itself from the presence of Christ, that the beloved brethren of his nation might enter in? To men who are not simple, simple words are the most inexplicable of riddles.

[George MacDonald, unwritten sermons I: "I shall not be forgiven", p 24 of this link]

Truth, with a capital T, is not mere information. Salvation is not some mystical change in some ‘book of life’ where a box is unchecked that says ‘send to hell’. Those views never made much sense to me, but more and more I start to realise that if salvation is not a real change in our lives, a real healing of our relationship with God, our fellow humans and all of creation, it does not mean a thing at all. It would make no sense to spend an eternity with a God if we don’t care to know Him… He is the ultimate reality, and it’s about knowing Him, not knowing information about Him… which may also end up in something that can be considered ‘mystical’, but not in the pejorative way I used the world earlier in this paragraph…

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and more real than we can realise. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Why would God then ever be impressed with our theology systems and our ‘cathedrals of thought’? If it does not draw us towards knowing the real living God, (no knowing about Him) it’s all useless, less than nothings…

peace

Bram

 

Mammoths, speed-evolution, and the Ark of Noah…


Let me start by saying that I don’t have any problem with Christians believing in either 6-day-creation or evolutionary creation, even though I might have a problem with making ‘isms’ out of this kind of ideas. My own position is that the Creation of the world is bigger than what we can investigate scientifically, and that we’ll never know all of the story, no matter how long we dig and measure and theorise, since the visible is not made out of what we can percieve, to paraphrase the letter to the Hebrews. That said I do tend to be convinced by an older earth, and by the general idea of evolution, but the most important thing is to acknowlegde that God is the creator… In the end all our theories about how He did create the world are probably cute and funny to Him, but not really to the point…

A problem can exist when people do have to believe a certain position on this subject to not be dismissed as either a false or at least compromising Christian (with the fundamentalist side) or a dumb idiot that cannot be taken seriously (the liberal side), and I see both of these on the internet all the time… Indeed, the problem is that there is a form of 6-days-creationism that runs rampant on the internet, which isn’t only rigily exclusive (all other views are heretical and make the bible worthless!) as scientifically completely nonsense for people who have done more studies than a simple secondary school curriculum… So people encountering this view might dismiss christianity completely, and I would do the same if let’s say Ken Ham or Doctor Dino would be able to prove me that his view was the right Christianity. I would just not at all be interested in Christianity… And it would have nothing to do with Christ… (Christ Himself should be the reason to accept or reject Christianity. All in Christianity should lead towards Him)

I once had an online discussion with a guy who was a strong believer in a very rigid form of 6-day-creationism. Unlike the view I had a teenager, which believed in an earth of at least 12.000 years, he believed in an earth of approximately 6.000 years. And he surely would have seen my former creationism model as compromised and not biblical, even though it was much more scientifically convincing, let alone more coherent. Which his model wasn’t if we went into details.

One funny discussion we had was about mammoths. As everybody knows, the Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenus) is a hairy elephant which roamed most of the northern hemisphere, and of which a lot of fossils (and even intact frozen specimens) have been found. But somehow the species dissapeared, and now we don’t have any of those hanging around anymore…

In his view the earth had to be completely repopulated with animals and humans after the great flood, some 4000 years ago. And all the mammoths are too recent to be from before the flood, so they are from after the flood.

Especially because, according to a view that some call baraminology, all elephants come from one pair of proto-elephants on the ark. Including the woolly mammoth. Noah did not have much place to put more pairs of elephantids on the ark anyway, and anyway mammoths are actually closer related to the Indian elephant than the 2 living species of African elephants are… (if one can believe phylogenetics, a field of science that is not epmloyed much in the strict creationist camp)

In his time table, the ‘ice age’ was shortly after the flood. And the mammoths were wiped away by the ice age…

Now there are 2 problems:

first there is the problem that it takes a lot of time to fill the Northern hemisphere with mammoths. Elephants are slow breeding animals. To think that they would fill 3 continents in a few hundreds of years, and then all die out because of a climate change is quite extra-ordinary in my view.  Anyone who knows about population statistics will agree with me…

The second problem is the problem of micro/macro-evolution. According to baraminology God created the animals all ‘after its kind’, which later ‘evolved’ into a broader group of species. So a doglike animal would be the forefather of all dogs, wolves and jackals (and foxes?), just like the proto-horse would be the forefather of all of the Equus genus: horses, asses, zebra’s and probly the now-extinct 3-toed fossil specied too… Likewise all elephants are considered to be of one baramin. (the word itself is bad use of Hebrew) So the proto-elephant pair that came from the ark must have evolved really fast in Indian and African elephants, and our Woolly mammoths… So this kind of ‘micro-evolution’ must have gone really really fast just after the flood…

In the end the one pair of proto-elephants from the ark had to evolve really fast in the different species, of which the mammoths had to spread to almost everywhere on the northern hemisphere… And they had to fill those 3 continents, just to die out, and all of that in a few hundreds of years…

I have no idea how he’d explain the numerous exctinct elephantids that are known to man. Except with a theory that ‘micro’evolution happened very fast before and just after the flood, but for some reason slowed down a lot after that… And then the whole theorie sometimes seems to hang on the impossibility of macro-evolution…

All I can say is that I’m glad that my faith does not depend on this kind of weird theories…

shalom

Bram