- Books, Literature, and Writing
The word "Biblia" is what the Bible is called in many languages. The word "biblia" or "bible" really simply means "book." The Bible contains writings which were made by individuals under the inspiration of God Himself. I like to think of it as the person and God being co-authors. And the Bible has had a more profound effect on my life than all other books put together! And that is saying a lot, because I have read thousands of books in my lifetime.
I read the Bible primarily in English, but I have also read portions of it in several other languages. I prefer the King James Version. There is a reason for this. It is the most accurate translation into English, of all. The ideas in the Bible are very important, and they must be conveyed accurately, because they strike at the heart of what it means to be a human being, and to have a relationship with God. If you grow up with the King James Version, you really learn to understand it well, even though the English in it is not all that much like contemporary English. So it is the only version I recommend.
Some people believe the King James Version was divinely inspired. I do not believe that, and it makes no sense to me. Only the original autographs (writings by the human author or his scribe) were inspired. And there are a few mistakes in translation. Occasionally because of the shift in meaning of some English words, a verse may be a little obscure. Most likely in that case, reading the same passage in the New King James may be helpful. Most modern translations are either paraphrases (and therefore VERY inaccurate) or have been colored by an agenda. Even some Bible helps have been corrupted in recent years.
The Bible began to change my life before I was even born. Both my parents are (or were) Christians, and the Bible informed them of how a family should be, and how they should be as parents. My life was far from perfect. I had many trials growing up. But there was one thing that was constant in my life. My parents were devoted to each other, and to the two of us, and they nurtured each other and us, and practiced love instead of being self-serving. So by the time I came along, I had a stable environment in which to grow and thrive, and as many people well know, this can make a profound difference in the life of a child. A child who grows up in a single parent family, or who is subjected to the disruption of his family, has a distinct disadvantage.
My parents belong (or belonged) to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. The particular way in which the Lutheran Church teaches the Bible also makes a huge difference.
What is it that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions, other than the claim that it is true, and other religions are false? Two things, to my mind. One is that it is the only religion whose founder is alive. The other is that it is the only religion that teaches that not only can you NOT save yourself, it's not even given to you to try. You HAVE to rely on God to save you. To the extent that some denominations teach that you must do certain things to add to your salvation, perfect your salvation, avoid a period of suffering after death, and so forth, they depart from the central message of the Bible.
As I grew, I wanted more and more to see EVIDENCE that the Bible is true and reliable, and I wanted this knowledge not only for myself, but so that I could share it with other people.
Two notes before I go on. My father is deceased, but my mother is still alive. This is why I use both the present and past tense when I write about them. The other thing: Judaism is the basis of Christianity, the foundation, and to that extent, I regard it as being just as true as Christianity, but that Christianity completes it. Since the Bible was completed, some scholars have written extensive commentaries, commonly called the Talmud, which Jews use to help interpret God's requirements for their lives. However, I do not regard these as being particularly accurate, though they are interesting to study. In fact, Jesus, the central character of the Bible, was very hard on the religious leaders for attaching such additional explanations to the Bible. Nowadays, being an observant Jew is a very complicated business. An observant Jew is one who tries to live by the Torah, or the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament). It is said that being Jewish is not about what you believe, but about how you live. While there is merit in this, it isn't the whole story.
As I grew up, we attended church weekly, so I was exposed to many Bible passages, and as a result, I have many committed to memory. While I enjoy other books immensely, the Bible is the only book to which I return again and again.
It can be said that the Bible is actually made up of 66 books. However, there is such unity and agreement among them, that they make a unified whole. People who claim that the Bible contradicts itself quickly demonstrate that they have not studied very deeply, because when you examine their claims, they fall apart, if you know anything reasonable about the Bible.
The accuracy of the Old Testament was preserved in an unusual way. Whenever a scribe copied part of a text, he used the assigned numerical values (1 to 22) of the Hebrew alphabet, and added up the values of every letter on the page he was writing, and the page he was copying from, and if there wasn't exact agreement, he destroyed the copy and started over. This process is known as gematriya. Copies were made on single sheets of parchment, which were then glued together to form a scroll.
The Bible, or portions of it, has been translated into more languages than any other book. It has the most copies ever printed, by far, enough so that every person on earth can own a copy. I would estimate that the number of translations exceeds 2000, and that translators are about halfway there in terms of providing the Bible or portions of it, in every language that still exists.
I will show later on that not only has the Bible influenced my life, but also has had a profound influence on the history of the world.
Martha was a friend of mine in high school. Knowing her had a significant effect on my attitude toward the Bible. I want to tell you about her.
People called her "Mars" because she liked science fiction. We were a small group of students who all liked science fiction. My future husband was part of the group, too. (You don't have to be an old fuddy-duddy to appreciate the Bible. It's OK to read science fiction and mysteries and westerns. But you do have a different outlook on these kinds of literature. Interestingly, my husband and I both agree that reading science fiction makes it easier to understand the concept of the Trinity.)
I thought of her as one of my best friends, though I know she was closer to someone else. During that time, we also liked to pretend that we had telepathy, and we had an unusual relationship. As the other girls in the group became interested in boys, however, they were no longer all that interested in this particular thing, so gradually it was dropped. We all were studying a foreign language, and very much enjoying it. So as one of our pastimes, we would write notes in another language and slip them through the air circulation slots into the school lockers of our friends.
Martha attended an Episcopalian church, and the priest there was actually a cruel man in some ways. This had a profound impact on Martha, and not for the better. I firmly believe in the existence of heaven and hell, and as I loved my friends, I wanted them to join me in heaven, so I would talk to them about the Christian faith. Some were Christians. Martha was a questioner. One day when we were talking, she said, "I don't like Pat answers." She would ask me questions I couldn't answer.
After we graduated from high school, Martha went to college in another state, and after she graduated from there, she joined the Peace Corps. She was sent to Liberia, if I recall correctly. While she was gone, she sent me a letter in which she said that something wonderful had happened to her, but she didn't want to tell me in a letter, so she would tell me when she saw me. However, I never found out, unfortunately.
By this time, we were living in Ohio. That is a fairly long walk from Arizona, where we grew up, but it was an even longer swim to Africa. One day I decided to listen to the news. I don't know why I did that, because I hate to listen to talking on the radio, and I would always either turn off the radio, or tune it out and think about something else. But on this particular day, I wanted to listen to the news, and I will never know why. During the newscast, they announced that three Peace Corps members had been killed by a train while they were vacationing in Kenya. And they named the three women, and one of them was Martha! That stunned me for obvious reasons. And another of our friends found out in an equally strange way. And that's why I never learned what wonderful thing happened to her. Nobody else knows, either.
A few years later, I learned many answers to Martha's questions. I fault my church for not teaching these to us in Sunday School while we were teenagers. While I think that the Lutheran Church has the most accurate interpretation of the Bible, I see this as a great weakness. But I'll tell more about that story in a minute.
Evidence for the Bible
The books in this section give some of the evidence for the authenticity of the Bible. The authors of the first two were originally atheists who tried to prove that Christianity is false, and ended up becoming Christians. Or as John Warwick Montgomery, the first author, put it, he was dragged kicking and screaming to the foot of the cross.
One of the interesting things about Montgomery in particular is that he has nine earned degrees, all but two on the doctoral level. He is a brilliant man. And not only that, but he speaks French fluently, has taught at the Sorbonne, is an accomplished French chef, and a connoisseur of wines.
History and Christianity
by John Warwick Montgomery
Written by someone I met personally, this contains some of the information I have been able to pass on to questioners.
More Than a Carpenter
by Josh D. McDowell, Sean McDowell
Similar information by another writer.
Some time after the events I have already told, I met a woman named Catherine. I originally met her because she and her husband were selling burl tables at the street fair. I have always wanted a burl table. So I said I would buy one from them, and they told me the price, but when I went to their house to pick it up, the husband told me that he had decided to stop making tables, and he would sell me the wood for the same price, and I could make my own. I said no, because I am not skilled at finishing wood, and I didn't want to mess it up. It wasn't the original deal.
After that, we sat around and talked awhile, and during the conversation, Catherine said she was planning on having an abortion in a couple of days. This upset me, and I tried my darndest to talk her out of it. But I didn't succeed.
Not long after, I had a very strange pregnancy, and I kept her informed about it. She was fascinated, and wanted to know the outcome. I'll tell that story sometime. The pregnancy ended up with the birth of a normal child, who is now in his 30's and has three children of his own.
Nevertheless, we kept in touch. Some time later, we were talking on the phone and she said she was reading a book about nutrition. Something about nutrition for the 21st century, or something like that. And I commented that I thought it was interesting that nowadays in order to get the same nutrition from our vegetables, we have to juice them, because there is so little nutrition in the original vegetables that we don't get much if we eat the whole vegetable. Catherine thought this was most interesting, and said she'd like to know more.
I just happened to have a book called The Scientific Case for Creation (a book that is now out of print, unfortunately) and I said I would give her a copy so she could read it. So I did, and she went off for a couple of weeks, and read it, and then we talked again, and she said she would like to know even more, and I said, "scientific or religious?" And she said, "Both". So I said, let's go for a walk in the desert and talk.
This was right after I had had the opportunity to listen to a series of tapes of a seminar given by Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, already mentioned, and I was eager to share the information with her.
So we went on a walk in an area that later became the grounds of a country club, would you believe! And in fact, we almost bought land there, and if we HAD, we would be well off today, but we were buying it with another couple, and they backed out. Anyway, at that time, it was still pristine desert and very beautiful.
So we walked for a couple of hours and talked, and I told her many of the things I had learned from the seminar tapes. And then I gave her a Bible. Before we parted, she told me she had been to the ashram recently, and they had told her there that she would soon find the truth. Now THAT was interesting!
Anyway, she took the Bible and went home, and I didn't hear from her for three weeks. Then she called me and said, "I have decided to become a Christian."
Throughout all of this, we became fast friends.
See what vital information can do? How critically important it is?
After awhile, we were planning on writing a book together on how to teach babies to read, and other things, but unfortunately, her husband, who is an Arab, didn't want her to associate with me anymore. He said I brainwashed her into being a Christian. That was strange because I only talked to her twice, and gave her two books, hardly enough to make a difference. So he forbid her to see me anymore. She felt that if she didn't comply, it would destroy her family, so she did. After that, we didn't see each other for many years, but I have seen her twice since then, quite by accident, and she is still faithful to Jesus, and so are her three children.
Scientific Creationism and Intelligent Design
I first heard about the theory of evolution, I think, about the time I entered high school. The first time I heard about it, I thought, this is pure, unadulterated nonsense! I still think that. While I was in high school, Dr. Henry Morris came and gave a talk to our congregation, and I was there. He had co-authored a book called The Genesis Flood. It's a very technical book, and very long, and I haven't ever finished it. But what he said that day made a lot of sense to me, and I have been an avid reader of books on scientific creationism and intelligent design ever since. I have also read a few things by people who support evolution.
The book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible, contains two accounts of the creation of the universe. When you look at the original Hebrew, it is easy to see that the accounts claim that the universe was created in six ordinary twenty-four hour days (without really stating that after the earth was created, immediately God started developing it.) In fact, one couldn't start keeping track of the days until God created light, for obvious reasons.
The subject of evolution and its refutation, and of scientific evidence for creation, as well as evidence of intelligent design, is vast. I will only be able to scratch the surface here. For this reason, I will supply links to web sites where there is extensive information. What I will do here is attempt to outline the different areas of study, and the evidence regarding each.
Please keep in mind that everyone accepts the physical evidence. What is different among scientists is the INTERPRETATION of the evidence. The interpretation is heavily influenced by the worldview of the scientist or other investigator. The worldview includes his religious views. There are pretty much three approaches to interpretation. Atheists tend to support evolution. There are "theistic evolutionists" (practically an oxymoron) and day-age Christians. And then there are Christians (and some others) who take the description in Genesis, though limited, to be accurate as stated.
In particular, it is noteworthy that the Hebrew in Genesis 1 uses the word "yom" which means "day". Some people argue that other passages equate a day to a thousand years. However, the wording in Genesis doesn't permit this interpretation for the simple reason that each day is designated as having an evening and a morning (the Hebrew day begins at sundown).
The age of the universe
At present, the age of the universe is open to discussion among creationists. There are a couple of possibilities. One is that the universe is actually very old, but the earth is young. The other is that the universe is also young, and we are misinterpreting the evidence if we say it is very old.
The book, Starlight and Time, proposed a model that started out essentially as a singularity. It is a variation on the Big Bang theory. According to the model, all the matter in the universe was originally in a very small space. Then there was an explosion, and all that matter spread out. Since gravity causes the slowing of time, the material toward the center would be experiencing the passage of far less time than the material at the fringes of the explosion. If the earth was close to the center, then it might only experience six thousand years, while much of the matter might experience billions. This model DOES take into account the theories of Einstein, unlike some of the other models involving the Big Bang. However, this model has problems. For one thing, the earth is NOT even at the center of its galaxy, and thus cannot be in the geographical center of the universe.
Another model says that the speed of light has slowed down drastically, so that to begin with it traveled much, much faster than it does today, and the result is that light from distant stars reached us much faster than it would today. There is some evidence to support this, but the jury is still out.
There are also other possible explanations for the red shift. The red shift is usually presented as a Doppler effect that causes the spectrum of light from stars to shift toward the red end of the visible spectrum. This is believed to be the case because the stars are moving away from us so rapidly that it stretches out the waves of starlight, and they then appear more red. Compare this to what nearly everyone has observed about a train whistle. When the train is approaching, the sound has one pitch, but as the train moves past and is then receding, the pitch shifts downward.
Why the age of the universe is considered important
In order for evolution to take place (more on this later), many scientists believe that there must be billions of years for things to develop by random chance. This cannot happen unless both the universe and the earth are very old.
The age of the earth
Except for day-age Christians, scientific creationists all agree that the earth is young. Here I will outline each of the major arguments.
First, keep in mind that the earth is an entity. Thus, all of the material in the earth is actually the SAME age. However, there are different things that may influence the APPARENT age of, say, a rock. For one thing, it is believed that the "age" of a rock really starts when the rock is formed. Say, the rock forms from hot lava that has cooled.
The most common method for trying to determine the age of a rock is through radiometric dating. According to this method, the amount of a radioactive material (isotope of an element) is measured, and compared to the amount of "daughter" material in the sample (the "daughter" is the element that will result as each radioactive element decays by giving off, say, an alpha particle or helium nucleus). There are a number of problems with this method.
1. You have to GUESS how much of the parent element and the daughter element were in the sample to begin with.
2. You have to ASSUME that no parent or daughter elements seeped into the rock or were removed in some way (a very questionable assumption, since we already know these processes happen).
3. You have to assume that the rate of decay is a constant. If the speed of light is not a constant, neither is the half life of any element. And we already KNOW you can drastically shorten the half life of an element. It's called atomic bombs and nuclear reactors.
In a project known as RATE, scientists studied the question of radiometric dating. One of their major investigations was of polonium halos. Polonium decays rapidly. Decay causes the appearance of a halo in the rock. If the rock is very old, there will be no halos. However, they are finding abundant halos in many of their samples. The samples MUST be young, because if they were old, there would be no halos.
In the Grand Canyon, there are two layers of the same material. One is toward the top of the canyon, and the other is toward the bottom. Assuming these layers were laid down over very long periods of time, the material in the top layer should be younger than the material at the bottom. But the opposite is true!
I have seen or heard testimony from two different sources to add to this. There was a chart in one book I read on creation, called The Scientific Case for Creation (which is unfortunately out of print). It showed a couple dozen (or more) of possible dating methods. Altogether, the ages yielded by these different methods varied from billions to mere hundreds of years. For example, a dating method that measured the rate at which a certain material was being washed by rivers into the ocean, and then sampled how much of this material had actually been deposited in the bottom of the ocean, yielded ages in the hundreds of years.
Another recent source of evidence is Mount St. Helens. After the eruption of that volcano, people actually SAW how many geological structures formed essentially overnight. In Spirit Lake, a huge collection of logs blown off the side of the mountain by the explosion formed a mat that turned into the precursor of coal. (Coal has been formed in the laboratory in a very short time, as have diamonds). A canyon 1/40th of the depth of the Grand Canyon was also carved out. Because all of these things happened so quickly, people saw for themselves, that the long ages they ASSUMED were needed for the formation of geological structures, were shown to be unnecessary.
There is other evidence that would tend to indicate the earth is young. We all know that the moon controls the tides in the oceans. For life to exist, we need for the levels of the tides to be pretty much what they are now. Without the tides, concerning life as we know it, is pretty much known that it cannot develop. That is, if you assume the theory of evolution. It is also known that the moon's orbit is becoming larger. The moon is receding a short distance at a known rate each year (if I recall correctly, about 1/4"). However, if you extrapolate back in time, taking into account the claim that the earth is 3 1/2 billion years old, then the moon would have been far too close not nearly that long ago. A moon that close would have caused serious problems with the rocks, breaking them up and fracturing them, and would itself not have survived, due to gravitational forces.
As one wag described it:
Scientists Aren't Toooo Smart
Scientists have shown that the moon is moving away at a tiny, although measurable distance from the earth every year.
If you do the math, you can calculate that 85 million years ago the moon was orbiting the earth at a distance of about 35 feet from the earth's surface.
This would explain the death of the dinosaurs. The tallest ones, anyway.
And there are other problems.
When we first went to the moon, some people said that because of meteorite impacts on the moon's surface that created dust, there could be many feet of dust on the surface of the moon. So they designed the lunar lander with this possibility in mind.
Guess what, folks! The layer of dust on the moon's surface is only 1/8" thick!
Another consideration is the existence of comets. Comets decay. The sun pulls matter away from them as they pass close to the sun, and this shrinks the comets so that eventually they cease to exist. As a result, the comets we see are obviously very young. So where do these comets come from, if they weren't here from the beginning of the solar system? Nobody knows. So people proposed something called the Oort Cloud, from which comets are supposed to originate. The only problem is, with the probes we have sent out into space, nobody has been able to find the Oort Cloud.
For more information on the Oort Cloud, see Wikipedia:
And there are other evidences. But that will suffice for this overview.
Intelligent design is the name for a collection of considerations that tend to show, logically, that evolution is impossible. This is because each organ of the body of an animal (including one-celled creatures) must exist in its completely developed form for the organ to do the organism any good. Until the organ is completely formed, natural selection will tend to eliminate the organism. It will not survive to develop and reproduce.
Many specific examples have been studied. One of the major ones has been the eye. The eye of many organisms (octopuses or octopi and humans, for example) is very complex. It consists of a number of parts. Without each part in existence, the eye will not function, and will not provide vision necessary for the organism to survive.
The fact that the organism cannot survive without the fully developed eye is an example of irreducible complexity. Anything less complex than a completely developed eye will not allow survival. Thus, the eye is irreducibly complex.
Another example given is the flagellum of certain bacteria. The flagellum is actually a very complex machine, completely biological, but with a structure well understood in engineering terms. Without each and every part, the flagellum simply will not work.
For comparison, think of a mouse trap with one part missing. Will the trap catch anything? Nope!
Another subject frequently discussed is information theory. Information theory has to do with the propagation of information. There are different definitions, but in this discussion they are talking about the information in the genes of the organism, that cause the organism to develop and function. Information doesn't spontaneously appear, but always must come from a designer of some sort. To say that information just appears would be like saying you can give a gazillion monkeys typewriters, and sooner or later (after billions of years), one of them will type out one of Shakespeare's plays. Ain't gonna happen!
Intelligent Design theory doesn't describe the designer. It could be God. It could be a little green man from a distant planet. Intelligent Design only talks about how the features we see in living things cannot come about as a result of mere chance.
Most evolutionists will tell you that the mechanism for evolution is Natural Selection. Natural Selection is the name given to the process whereby an organism loses its ability to survive in a given environment, and subsequently dies. If a particular species has a number of individual organisms in a population, the environment may be such that they cannot survive there. They become extinct.
The problem is, Natural Selection does not give rise to new information. All it does is causes the ELIMINATION of species. It is not a mechanism for evolution.
Some people say random mutations give rise to new genetic information. The problem with this is that random mutations almost always cause the organism to lack viability. They are detrimental. For every possible useful mutation, there are hundreds or thousands that are detrimental.
There are examples offered of how mutations cause evolution. One example is the sickle cell trait. It gives immunity to malaria. The only problem is, it causes the death of a human being at a young age.
In an attempt to show that this mechanism will work, scientists did experiments on fruit flies. A fruit fly only has four chromosomes, so they felt it was a good organism to work with. So they started causing mutations. The only problem was, none of the mutations were helpful. Instead, they caused things like wings being fastened to the wrong part of the body so the fruit fly couldn't fly.
Another example is the way bacteria develop immunity to antibiotics. The only problem there is that some bacteria already have immunity to these substances, and when you use an antibiotic, it kills off the ones that lack this immunity. The ones left behind can then multiply, and voila! the bacteria have become resistant. The substances being used as antibiotics have been in nature all along. And the kicker is that, even when you now have a resistant strain, they're still bacteria!
This is far from a complete description of all of the different topics that have been examined. But I will leave this as it is, and move on to other topics.
This is an area where I have read and studied very little, so I will just touch on it briefly.
To begin with, there were many places described in the Bible, where cities had been built, or there were existing structures that are described in detail. Archaeologists only knew of a handful of these, and many people who wanted to debunk the Bible pointed to the lack of concrete evidence.
However, over the years, more and more places have been dug up, and these cities have been found. In fact, sometimes there would be a city that would get covered with sand, and another city would be built on top of that, and it might happen several more times.
As a result, many, many such statements in the Bible have proven to be accurate, because these places actually existed.
So far, the archaeologists have batted 100%. Every single find has fit right in with the claims of the Bible.
I heard once that the Israelis actually use the Bible to help locate oil fields in Israel.
Meaning in My Life
So far, I have discussed the evidence that the Bible is a reliable and accurate book (more accurate than any other book written). This information is for people who want to rely on evidence instead of blind faith, which I personally recommend. You don't want to jump to conclusions. In the book The Phantom Tollbooth, toward the end, it compares Conclusions to an island, and it says...
Don't Jump to Conclusions
Don't jump to conclusions. It's a long swim back. (paraphrased)
--The Phantom Tollbooth
Reading and learning about the Bible has transformed my life.
I am by nature a pretty mean person. I don't think I've ever met someone that didn't have the same tendencies. I am not saying that we are totally depraved (though in one sense, we are), but that we have both tendencies toward evil and tendencies toward good. It's sort of like the side of the Force you embrace (except the Force is impersonal, and God is personal, and God is only good; He is not the author of evil).
The teachings of the Bible are some of the things I have taken to heart in my life. And the result has been that I have become a person I enjoy being with. Yes, I still have my mean streak, and every so once in awhile, I give in to it. I can be very cruel, particularly when I am frustrated or painted into a corner I can't see how to get out of.
I have tried to read other books about how to turn your life around, how to mend relationships, and that sort of thing. I don't find myself able to relate to much of what they say. They all SOUND nice, but the techniques used simply don't seem to have too much substance, because for one thing, they don't address the underlying issues.
What if the best way to restore a relationship is to admit you were in the wrong? That's fine IF you are in the wrong, but what if you're not? Then what?
I have learned that I don't have to defend my turf. That's a good thing, because nobody else will defend it. We don't stand up for each other like we used to. If I am willing to wait, then, if appropriate, I will be vindicated at the best possible time. I still want to take matters into my own hands. But I control these impulses because I know better. Tooting your own horn is neither fun nor productive.
Hopefully, the fact that I am someone I enjoy being with makes me more enjoyable for other people. I concentrate my life on pursuing things of beauty, and I associate with other people who do the same thing.
I will learn to be content with the friendship and love of faithful people. That is my goal.
Does the Bible have meaning for you? Do you read the Bible to find the flaws in it? (I actually encourage people to try to disprove the Christian faith.)
Do you read the Bible?
The Bible Transforms Cultures
There are so many cultures that have been transformed by the Bible.
I will give you just one example. There is a small group of people living somewhere deep in the jungles of Indonesia. The people are so dysfunctional in their relationships that only close family members ever trust each other.
In fact, like most cultures, the people like to tell stories. Oral tradition passes on the epics of the people. And the thing they like to talk about most is their heroes, people who have found the most elegant ways to betray a friend. If they can lure a friend into a deadly situation, and the friend loses his life, this is especially praiseworthy.
No culture can thrive with a view like that. Most of us have sense enough to recognize how very UGLY this perspective is.
Eventually, some missionaries settled into the community. They began working on learning the language, writing it down, teaching people to read, and translating the Bible. As is usually the practice, they recruited some native speakers to help them. But they labored there for years with no visible results. It was most disheartening. People kept betraying their friends, and people kept on being afraid of everyone else.
Until one day...
As told in the book Peace Child (available on Amazon)
one of the natives told them about the Peace Child. If various local groups exchanged an infant, taking the infant of one couple and trading it for the infant of a couple in another group, there would be peace between the two groups as long as both children were healthy.
This became the means to explain Who Jesus is.
The result was that the culture was transformed, and the people became open to the Gospel.
Read about it in the book...
This book will keep you riveted. It is an "I can't put it down" kind of book about a real life situation with a wonderful outcome.
The Bible Has Transformed the Lives of People Around Me
Many of you have undoubtedly known people who were highly dysfunctional. They may have been totally irresponsible, or drug addicts or had many other problems. And most of us know at least one person who was transformed by the power of the Gospel. When you see the person again, you can hardly recognize him, he has changed so much!
I have seen the Gospel, the central message of the Bible, transform the lives of people near and dear to me, turning people who were abusive and ugly into people who were loving and kind.
And sometimes, the person is actually nice, kind, and productive, but still has an inner fear, something that person lives with all his life. In this case, the transformation can be internal rather than external, though there will be subtle indications of the change.
And I have also seen some transformations up close and personal. I will tell you about one such person. She only had a few days to leave her legacy to the world, which is why I am telling her story here.
She grew up in a family with a family member who was a drunkard and who abused his family. He was considered a pillar of the church. (Churches often embrace people who contribute a lot of money, and they make no attempt to evaluate the fruits of a person's life before bestowing kudos on them.) As a result, she was hostile to the Christian faith for many, many years.
This is a woman who lived the life that comes from accepting the Judeo-Christian consensus. She was kind and generous. But she could also turn the air blue when she was angry. Nevertheless, she would give you the shirt off her back if you were in need. Even though she herself had not embraced the Christian faith, because of the culture in which she lived, she lived Christian ideals in her life. She was faithful in marriage, and worked hard, and lived frugally.
Eventually, she moved across the street from a woman who loved the Lord with all her heart and wasn't bashful about talking about Him. She tolerated her new friend because she was lonely for friendship, and the other woman would sing hymns to her, and just all around loved her unconditionally. This other woman planted many seeds.
Back to the woman I am talking about... During the last year of her life, I visited her daily. I took her herbs to comfort her body. I spent time with her, going over family pictures and making sure the people in the family were identified, and listening to her stories.
In the end, she developed enough pain that she needed a little help, and entered into a hospice inpatient facility. She was there only ten days. During that time, a Quaker minister visited her, and assured her that God is a loving and forgiving God. And the chaplain explained to me that this woman was afraid of God. I had already figured that out. After a few days, the woman asked me to visit her and lead her to the Lord. And I did. Then my pastor visited her and baptized her.
For years, her only religion was sports. She attended every game of her favorite team, and would often travel many hours to go to a game. Suddenly, she was no longer interested in sports.
When her family learned of her newfound faith, one family member came to visit her, and said, he couldn't bear the thought of her not spending eternity with God, in joy, and couldn't come visit her until she had turned to Christ, but now he visited with her and they were both blessed.
Just a day or two later, God sent her a hummingbird. There was a hummingbird outside visiting the bush and sipping on the flowers. She was the first to see him. And she loved it.
She died peacefully in my presence just a few days later.
She may not be able to live her newfound life for all to see, but I can talk about her life, and share it with others.
The Bible Has Transformed the World
Many eastern religions teach that everything is an illusion. One term used is "maya". Some people may recognize this term. People are interested in trying to save themselves, but they think that any problems they suffer are their own fault. This is a terrible place to live! And they don't bestow compassion on others because they believe if they do, they will increase the suffering of the people upon whom they show compassion. That's another terrible place to live! And because the universe is an illusion anyway, there is no purpose to scientific pursuit.
People seek a place of oblivion because they are tired of suffering with no hope. Instead of embracing the idea that we have an eternal destiny, they think that their only fate is either to suffer many times more than they already have, or else to lose their identity forever.
I can't go there. In the western world, for the most part, nobody else does, either.
The Judeo-Christian consensus has a profound effect on people's lives because of scientific study and discovery, and because of inventions and engineering that grow out of scientific pursuits. For the most part, the scientific method and many facets of science were developed by Christian creationists with generous help from practicing Jews (who are fewer in number, but make up for it in brilliance. Have you ever noticed how many Nobel Prizes have been won by Jews?)
It is ironic that today some people are using science as a bludgeon to destroy the very consensus that gave rise to societal conditions that make science possible!
But notice that because of scientific advancements, and because the Bible teaches compassion, people living under the Judeo-Christian consensus have blessed the rest of the world with practical help: medical, agricultural, public health, and many other things. Electricity is a huge boon to the human race. The fact that we understand disease and as a result we have gone to many parts of the world to drill wells that will provide clean, healthful water has made a huge difference.
Most parents need no longer endure the anguish of losing one child after another in infancy or early childhood to a stupid disease that is entirely preventable.
The benefits of the worldview formed from the Bible are simply too many to enumerate.
The Bible Transformed the Arts
Read about it in the book How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer. This book is fairly scholarly and an in depth investigation of the influence of Christianity on the arts: visual arts, music, literature, and theater. It was written by a "soft apologist" who founded and ran a retreat in Switzerland for searchers. It is not a trivial book, and goes into great detail on exactly HOW the Christian faith transformed the arts, and HOW the rejection of Christianity has changed them into mean-spirited, life-denying forms.
You Can Read All the Self-Help Books You Want
but none compares to the Bible. Either their recommendations are useless, or these are recommendations that originated in the Bible in the first place.
Sometimes these books are helpful because they go into more detail about things that may not be entirely clear just from reading the Bible.
I like to read books like that and try to figure out which Bible passage originally contained the information they are presenting to me. I can usually find it.
The Bible is most fascinating for one reason. It presents a Gospel message so simple even a tiny child can grasp it. At the same time, it is so complex that scholars can spend many years studying it intensely and just barely scratch the surface.
I know of no other book like it.
I will talk more about specific teachings some other time. Be well. Read the Bible.
The Central Message of the Bible
Although the Bible is very long and contains a lot of information, all of which is important, there is one central message, and that is JESUS.
Jesus is one of the Persons of God. He came to earth and took on human flesh, so He could redeem us (buy us back) from evil and sin, and take us to be with Him in heaven for eternity.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16.
That is the most famous Bible verse, and in a nutshell, that tells the entire story. Jesus paid the price for our sins, all the hurt, damage, ugliness, evil, that we have ever committed. He paid the penalty, which was death. All we have to do is accept His free gift.
It is Jesus plus nothing. It is the cross plus nothing. It is salvation by grace. Plus nothing. We are not only incapable of completing our salvation, we are not even supposed to try. That's God's job. And trying to do God's job is blasphemy.
This is what causes Christianity to stand out from all other religions. In all other religions, human beings are required to do something to achieve salvation, nirvana, or whatever. We are required to add our own good works. To the extent that any Christian denomination tries to add any requirements whatsoever, what we must do to complete our salvation and achieve our eternal destiny, it has departed from the message of the Bible, and it is false.
Jesus plus nothing.
Links to Creationist and Other Web Sites
- Discovery Institute
The focus of their work is on Intelligent Design. They show through their studies that the complexity of the organs of living things simply makes random processes an impossible source of this. They don't say WHO the intelligent designer is. It could
- The Institute for Creation Research
The original creationist organization. The web site has articles from its magazine which is sent free on request. The articles are short and readable.
Has an email list that recommends articles from other web sites. It's a good place to start to learn about the resources available. Also runs significant articles in its own right.
- Creation-Evolution Headlines
A good collection of articles on a wide variety of topics.
- Associates for Biblical Research
Mostly articles about archaeology, discoveries that substantiate historical claims of the Bible.
- Answers in Genesis
Founded and run by Australians, it has a sense of humor, and also considers the implications of evolution that defeat the Gospel message.
- Apologetics Press
Has a wider scope of topics, with many good articles on creation in particular.
- Creation Moments
Has a daily email that gives a short description of a remarkable fact about a living organism, and a short Bible verse and a prayer. Very interesting!
Share your thoughts with me, or just stop by and say Hi.