Act(s)ions Speak Louder than Words

As I was sitting down on a very regular Wednesday morning, I suddenly realized something I had never thought of. I was working on a project to create a Bible reading plan for my church. The overall theme was “With God’s Love to the World.” I turned to the online Bible search function in my native language and typed in “love.” As I scrolled to see the results in the book of Acts, there were no hits. It took a few moments before it sunk in, and the very next thought came like someone was speaking to me: “Wow Anton. You have studied theology in university for five years and read the Bible your whole life and never seen this?”


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12056
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Was it merely an interesting coincidence, fate, or the guidance of the The Holy Spirit that just before I fell asleep last night, I “just happened” to have been reading an article about all the things Jesus DOES NOT love, and that just before reading the “love-centric” article above, first thing this morning?

I’m not a divinity student and have never read the Bible from cover to cover. But I thought 12 years in Adventist Schools and weekly attendance in their churches for the better part of 25 years meant that I understood Jesus’ good news “good enough”.

But seeing last night’s compilation of memory verses about all the people Jesus, and by logical extension his dad, literally detest, made me laugh…at first.

Then I got thinking that the NT is as hateful as the OT version and that rather than than considering either of them as being loving and lovable, cuddly creatures who are worthy of eternal worship, why shouldn’t both “gods” be categorized as, at best, self-contradicting, nearly senile curmudgeons, if not deplorable monstrosities?

I’m still not swayed by the atheist’s argument but I can understand the assertions of those who insist that really reading the Bible would lead one to that the assumption that the version of god described there cannot possibly be real; probably just an eerie Halloween ghost/god story told just to scare kids, right?

If nothing else, and if god is all-powerful, one has to ask why he would allow so much bad publicity about himself to exist?

Unless he subscribes to the old ad man’s assertion that there’s no such thing as “bad pr”?!?!

:wink:

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I too never studied theology in an academic setting, but I did read the Bible cover to cover in my late 20s (about 25 years ago).

What struck me, along with the inconsistencies, contradictions and ambiguities of the text, was the moral ambivalence of God, his changing attitudes (contradicting the texts which claim he never changes), and his unwillingness or inability to communicate clearly and directly to all people (despite a handful of claims in the text to the contrary).

I concluded that the biblical texts are less a revelation by God to man, than it is a revelation by various men about how they happened to perceive God.

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Talk about taking scripture out of context!

So, what’s wrong with atheists?

Trying to break this up into bite-size pieces, but there are so many run-on sentences.

The people who followed Jesus still had one foot in the OT. When you deal with adolescents you have to use language they understand - same here. It’s part of the process. Actually, the quote from Luke 12:51 was thrown at me by an academy kid my first year of teaching. He was a mild form of rebel - long bangs + attitude; but was also bright. His dad was a GC person of some kind - surprise! I don’t remember what I said to him, but he did sign my yearbook, so it couldn’t have been too bad.

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Taking Jesus’ words and putting them down writing is taking them out of context.

To say nothing of 2,000 years of translation and spurious insertions which remove the gospels ever further from their original setting

Much as Matthew took citations from the Torah out of context when he tried to show that Jesus had fulfilled this or that prophecy for a Jewish audience.

In other words, duh, everything in the Bible is out of synch, temporarily and physically, and the hobby of taking things out of context is a tradition as old as organized religion itself.

Also, I have nothing against atheists, it’s just that I’ve seen too much evidence for the existence of a creator of some sort to be convinced that the universe is an effect with out a cause.

As to the run on sentences, I make no apologies as my favorite literary heroes tend to be those who write entire chapters without giving the reader a comma, period or other opportunity to come up for air.

:rofl:

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It’s one thing to say, “I don’t know.”; but another to say “I don’t know what I don’t know”. I’m afraid that’s all we can say about God and His kingdom.

The entire Jesus story came from aural tradition; and wasn’t written down until decades after the fact. On top of that, all kinds of people were writing, using the names of the apostles. It’s amazing there is as much continuity that there is. What keeps it all together is the composite picture of Jesus - a personality that stays true throughout.

In a small book The Acts of God by Wright and Fuller, it’s pointed out that Jesus came as a Jew, acting out within his life the promises God made in the OT. All the bells and whistles required in the OT were foreshadowing the REAL, yet to be. Jesus kept referring to the OT as an identifier, asking “Who do men say I am?” The point being, to go beyond the rote religion of the OT do’s and don’ts, reaching down into who we are, rather than what we do to be accepted. Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus pretty much answers what the goal is. The rest is window dressing, based on what these people were used to believing, and what we are tempted to believe.

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Not at all surprising given that the canonization process weeded out any and all of the other gospels (at least a dozen) and epistles (who knows how many) that didn’t adhere to what the editors claimed was orthodoxy, then labeled everything else apocryphal and/or heretical.

But then again, you’re taking the story of Nicodemus out of context and claiming it’s a summary of Jesus’ gospel, just as religious people have been doing for at least a few millennia, and with absolutely no proof that any number of other memory verses are not more germane.

Just curious. Who are these favorite literary heroes?

Samuel Becket is an oldie but goodie, as are Umberto Eco and James Dickey.

Greatest of all time?

Salman Rushdie.

On religion?

Alan Watts.

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How uplifting all of these comments have been. SIC

If I took the two testaments and EGW as my only revelation of God…I would be outa here long ago. But nestled in these pages of scripture is a God who is trying to save the universe from an inevitable destruction. Note “I will make a new heaven and a new earth”. We have all focused on the new earth part, but I think, being an amateur astronomer, that the entire universe has been infected. I have observed galaxies colliding, super nova’s wiping out a radius of hundreds of lightyears. I think we are the universe’s ant farm. All the creatures are watching to see how this plays out. Because of this, and because we have become the guineapigs for this process, I am sure that God isn’t going to leave us here and wipe us out because we behaved badly. I think He will be much more merciful than any of you above realize. The 2000- to 3000-year-old writings, from another age are almost like reading a letter from another planet. God demonstrated just how much he is willing to forgive and save us by coming down and dying. He isn’t going to leave any of us unless we totally reject Him. The only thing required for salvation is BELIEF. It says it over and over.

As pointed out in the article I copied, the Bible also says over and over that god requires all sorts of other behaviors and obedience from us in order to obtain his love.

I don’t find this depressing or sad, however. Instead, one of the greatest joys of my life came when I abandoned the confusing and contradictory truths of the Bible, EGW and organized religion and found expressions of my maker’s affection for his creatures and creation in his first book, Nature.

For example, and as I mentioned above, the James Webb Space Telescope has been providing pictures of the cosmos which are at once astounding and perplexing as they are not precisely what The Big Bang Theory predicted. To me, this is the best news possible as it shows once again that the universe is not only more complex than we had imagined but that it is probably more fascinating than we can imagine!

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Brilliant. I will remember this lesson as I seek to act with love. It also reminds me of the Hebrew concept of hesed, which I recently explored via Michael Card’s book, “Inexpressible.” All of God’s love is action through scripture. The challenge for us is to act accordingly now. Grateful for this essay.

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Based on all evidence available to date, none of the gods ever wrote one word of scripture.

However, our maker’s expression of himself and his love for his creation is constantly demonstrated in the essentially active gifts of nature.

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Bruce, I agree with you. Being an amateur astronomer, I have spent many hours viewing as well as imaging the night sky. The things that go on out there are majestic and at the same time unexplainable in terms we can understand. I guess I am saying things using different words than what you said. But the one thing they have discovered recently because of the Web is that some of these galaxies that are over 13 billion lightyears distant are very well formed with some very old suns (determined by their redshift) which would mean their formation was considerably farther back than the big bang. Like you said, God has made an amazing and immense universe and we are still perplexed with trying to understand it.

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There is really nothing further back than the Big Bang, But you are seeing the glory of the heavens, as David noted.

But I want to speak of photosynthesis again. The two parts, the light reaction and the dark reaction are nearly miraculous. The chemical reactions there and the way they are put together in space such that the three demential relationships work show great skill with chemistry, and these reactions even take advantage of quantum effects. Now that such attention was paid to these processes that sustain us show the care that the Creator took to make life possible here and to allow us to live as we do really does speak to his love, “while we were yet sinners.”

But I want to note something else that shows the love of the Creator. That is his admonition to us to love our enemies and do good to those that persecute us. I thought of this command this morning and shuddered at how it calls for the sacrifice of self love. Being willing to forgive and love enemies is really an astounding command. And even the OT admonished this in Leviticus. And I could not do this if God was not taking care of me in such a way that I could freely give of myself knowing that I was loved. And that he calls me to do what he does.

When I note the glory of the heavens and the glroy of the chemistry of life, and then the commands to love even enemies, I can better understand what love has been spilled out for me.

it is funny how you guys see this vengeful God, and I don’t see it. I know he had do do things, the flood, Sodom etc, that seemed arbitrary on the surface, but when you realize that mankind was destroying itself, and that emergency radical surgery was the only way to longtime survival, you realize that God had bigger things to deal with. And God was wiling to be misunderstood to save mankind as a whole.

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Of course, you could read 1 Corinthians, and oh there’s 1 Corinthians 13, and it’s all about love.

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There’s always the tension between “following the law” (right actions) and “faith” {relying on God’s grace) in the New Testament. The Hebrew culture was based on keeping or breaking the law (action), while the Greeks talked about spirit. The word LOVE had several subtypes in Greek culture, while love for the Hebrews was defined by actions.

Galatians talks about Jesus coming “in the fulness of time”. This has several definitions, but one that isn’t talked about is the time when Greek culture and Hebrew culture became intertwined. The God of action had to be balanced by the God of spirit.

We seldom talk about God working in the midst of other cultures, besides the Hebrew. Did the OT God of thunder and lighting of Mt Sinai need to be modified by the God of love and grace… Was the time just right for God to show himself more completely amongst a culture ready to consider him more fully. God acts out of love; and his followers must do the same. In the NT we see a Jewish “Messiah” conquering with love and grace.

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