Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dennis muses on small minded theology

The "6000 Year Plan of God"
Logic or Theo-Logic?

"The Bible clearly reveals a 6,000-year period during which human beings follow their own ideas apart from the Creator. This will be followed by Jesus Christ's thousand-year reign on earth, during which He and the resurrected saints will literally teach the entire world God's true ways. Notice: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6)....

Which may not be the same as real facts

...The Jews of Jesus' day understood well the concept of each day of the week representing a thousand years in the Plan of God. Peter explained this principle: "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). So, the seven-day week represents God's 7,000-year plan, with six days of the week representing the time of our present human society, followed by the thousand years of Christ's reign as King of kings (Revelation 11:15)."

Roderick C Meredith-When will the end come?  Tomorrow's World Magazine

Whether the Bible "clearly" spells out anything is a matter of opinion and theological debate.  Apostle Dave Pack assures us that "God's word is crystal clear" on his muddled  and muddied prophecy of Haggai in which he sees himself spoken of by the scriptures and just knows that God intends to unifiy all the splinters under one leader, which of course would be himself.  The idea that it is the Bible that is clear and it is the humans who are blind to the clearness or not called to see the clearness at this time is ridiculous reasoning.   It is not uncommon to find Church of God Gurus coming up with codes and mysteries, puzzles to be solved and hidden meanings that only one man, the guy in charge of all truth can explain.  It's a con more than a truth but some folk seem to like it.

2Peter:3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction 

Even here we see the Greek author of 2 Peter (Not written by the actual Peter and much later in the game) get tired of all the arguing and admitting that Paul is not the easiest guy to understand theologically. That's because he was 'all things to all men" so at times you can never figure out what the man stands for.  Rather than admit the man's clarity is not so clear and he might be off track on some things big time, this author typically blames the people and reasons that they don't understand because they are unlearned and unstable souls and headed for destruction.  Typical blame placing and name calling when the problem is really not the listener.   The Apostle Paul had is own issues with "clear as mud."

Personally as a minister I always thought the explanation as to why Jesus spoke in parables was somewhat lame to my way of thinking.  These mysterious sayings to keep folk from understanding were not all that hard to understand. 

"And He said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see and hearing they might not understand"  
Luke 8:10

(I wanted to put a "Jesus teaching Parables" picture here but I can't find one for free.  Jesus pictures are not for free evidently! LOL)

Unless I am missing something, the parables of Jesus were very simplistic and rather easy to understand. Seeds on various kinds of soil, lost coins, pearls of great price and so on are not all that hard to figure out and see what Jesus of the Gospels was getting at.  

But whether it is clear or not, what RCM means here is that if we just go by the Bible, we can discern a 6000 year , (can we really?) oral/written traditions made up along the way by Bronze Age men who packaged it in what we now call the Bible.  It does not meant they understood anything about the real age of the universe, our solar system or how life actually came to be on the planet.  The first mistake would be the start point and taking the Adam and Eve mythology, taken from Sumerian creation stories and given a Hebrew twist as literally true.  They are not and until the ministry and laity in all fundamentalist churches can come to grips with this reality, it will be endless name calling.  

"The Mesopotamian myths, then, agree with Genesis: (1) _all_ the gods REST _after_ creating man, and (2) _all_ the gods rest on a seventh day _after_ man's creation (but this seventh day of rest is _after_ a flood instead of _before_ a flood) and (3) Yahweh sets aside a seventh day for man (Israel) to rest on and on a seventh day the gods caused man to "rest" (his "rest from toil" is that which accompanies man's death by the seventh day of the Shuruppak Flood). These, for me, are the "new twists" the Hebrews have applied to the earlier Mesopotamian myths! 

Hebrews apparently objected to the Mesopotamian storyline and denied that Yahweh-Elohim had created man to endure back-breaking toil in his Garden of Eden to give God a break from self-toil in growing his own food (Yet Yahweh is fed food twice a day like a Mesopotamian god beginning with the Exodus at Mount Sinai and this feeding of God is to continue for all of eternity -even after the Messiah comes- as Ezekiel envisions a future Messiah at Jerusalem with the help of Levitical priests preparing God's daily food via burnt offerings and sacrifices cf. Ez. 44:7,15; 45:13-25; 46:1-9). Via a series of brilliantly orchestrated inversions and reversals or "new twists" to old Mesopotamian motifs and concepts the nomadic Hebrew shepherds apparently recast the Mesopotamian city-dwellers' myths which had man being the ruthlessly exploited innocent victim of the gods, instead it is God who is the victim of a rebellious, unappreciative, evil-hearted mankind. Why did they do this? The city-dwellers despised and feared the nomads characterizing them as uncouth and a threat to civilization as cut-throats, thieves, bandits and raiders of cities out for plunder. In defense of their way of life the nomadic herdsmen apparently took the city-dwellers myths and recast them _via a series of inversions_ in such a way as to portray themselves (Abraham and Abel being shepherds) as blessed by God and the city-dwellers (Cain and his descendants) as the accursed by God. The nomads had the "correct" understanding of man's origins and his relationship with his Creator, the smug city-dwellers had it all wrong."

The "is the story of Adam and Eve literally true?" question is not a difficult one to answer with a little bit of modern critical thinking and study.  I do understand neither of these traits are common to literalists. These stories and myths, which is mostly what the first 11, at minimum,  have meaning but they do not have the meaning literalists have assigned to them.  I recently reminded a pastor giving a sermon and making bold and unscientific statements to be careful.  He needed to realize that while he was speaking Bronze Age myths as literally true, some bored teen is using his Iphone to search it out and before he gets finished will conclude the pastor is a sincere idiot. He just got offended at me.  He'll learn the hard way I suppose. 

Of course, I am not going to prove there is no 6000 year old plan to anyone nor do I need to.  I simply want to point out we don't live in the 1930's or 60's or 70's anymore.  Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear realize we have learned more about the origin, makeup and time scale of our universe and planet in the last 30 years than in the last 3000.  Our parents were taught our galaxy was the universe until Edward Hubble noticed other fuzzy patches from Mt. Wilson Observatory over Pasadena and the rest is history.  There are BILLIONS of Galaxies and I will venture to say that "soon" humans will have to realize we may just be one bubble of a universe in a bath billions of bubbles.  Very cool!  It also makes the God of the 6000 year plan seem rather wimpy and confined to a just about nothing earth bossing amoeba around.  I'd like to live long enough for some confirmation of life elsewhere in our solar system past or present.  Like the few Europeans who tried to explain to the majority that one would not fall off the edge of the earth if they went west across the Atlantic and would possibly find "others", I think this will be proved correct also in time.  Marco Polo was jailed by the church for a time after his round the world travels because he had found "others" and it would erode the authority of the Church over everyone in Europe is that got too widely known.  It did eventually get widely known.  Truth is like that.

The Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (HUDF) is an image of a small region of space in the constellation Fornax, composited from Hubble Space Telescope data accumulated over a period from September 24, 2003, through to January 16, 2004. Looking back approximately 13 billion years (between 400 and 800 million years after theBig Bang) it will be used to search for galaxies that existed at that time. The HUDF image was taken in a section of the sky with a low density of bright stars in the near-field, allowing much better viewing of dimmer, more distant objects. The image contains an estimated 10,000 galaxies. In August and September 2009, the Hubble's Deep Field was expanded using the infrared channel of the recently attached Wide Field Camera 3(WFC3). When combined with existing HUDF data, astronomers were able to identify a new list of potentially very distant galaxies.[1][2]
Located southwest of Orion in the southern-hemisphere constellation Fornax, the image is a little more than 3arcminutes across.[3] This is just one-tenth of the diameter of the full Moon as viewed from Earth, smaller than a 1 mm by 1 mm square of paper held at 1 meter away, and equal to roughly one thirteen-millionth of the total area of the sky. The image is oriented so that the upper left corner points toward north (−46.4°) on the celestial sphere.

Someday a much bigger minded Church is going to have to cope with the truths, not of science falsely so called, but of science done well.  Genesis 1-3 has meaning and the Priest who wrote it had message for Hebrew men and women.  It was just not meant to explain literal origins.  Nothing happens in a literary vacuum.  The stories of others are always copied and amended to tell the story others wish to tell about themselves.  Big stories give cultic people a huge pedigree which is the goal.  

"Ok, i admit it. I messed around with the Sapien Babe. She had awesome browridges.  Am I so bad?"

All life on this planet has evolved over the last 4 billion years and most a lot more "recently" than that.  How that occurred is not fully understood but is far better understood than ever.  Humans arrived around 160-200,000 years ago.  There were many intriguing cousins and ancestors for a few million years before that.  All Europeans are now known to have 2-5% Neanderthal genes in their makeup.  I think that 's cool.   Arguing is endless and will always divide humans into the camps that understand it and don't understand it and those that want to understand it and those that do no wish to go there because it is a threat to their mistaken but comfortable views of how it all is.  

The Bible may portray a 6000 year "plan' but that minuscule time compared to all of time that has passed while we came to be is the thickness of the coat of tar on top of the worlds tallest building compared to the height of the building.  Reality in scientific exploration should not be the threat to spirituality that it seems to be.  It certainly is a threat to religion which is a horse of a different color as they say.  Yes, "Houston We have a problem" is true in religion when it comes to not taking all stories Biblical literally.  Theologians admit that the idea that "all of us are sinners and subject to eternal death because of Adam's sin..." becomes moot if there were not a literal Adam and Eve as portrayed in Genesis, and there wasn't.  That is the kind of problem you cause yourself when you start with a wrong premise. It's what you get building doctrine on a mistaken idea in the first place.  Catholicism had to do back flips theologically once they decided Mary was literally a virgin when the literal and sinless God Jesus came from her womb. Modern genetics biology leave one only with "it was a miracle" to explain it theologically.  It is a faith issue and faith is not biology or genetics.   There is logic and there is theo-logic.

The 6000 Year Plan is simply too small

(We're gonna need a bigger boat)



Head Usher said...

"Of course, I am not going to prove there is no 6000 year old plan to anyone nor do I need to. I simply want to point out we don't live in the 1930's or 60's or 70's anymore. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear realize we have learned more about the origin, makeup and time scale of our universe and planet in the last 30 years than in the last 3000."

I simply want to point out we don't live in the #@&%$@% DARK AGES ANYMORE!

Anonymous said...

Yes, "The 6000 Year Plan is simply too small"!

This reminds me of Gavin Rumney recently writing, "Thus it ever was. Let's face it, people attach themselves to ministries like these out of more primal needs than reason and good sense."

Two Popes deemed Galileo heretical for looking through an improved telescope and noticing the Earth revolved around the Sun (an observation which went against the Bible's word on such things), so he was arrested, and remained under house arrest for the rest of his life.

The Catholic Church is one of the best examples of an entrenched refusal to see what can be seen, and of the refusal to temper previous conclusions with new information.
Problems arise when the Bible is regarded as the inerrant "Word of God", and Christendom's role in history confirms this. Heck, even recently some Texas legislators passed out pamphlets to their fellow Republicans espousing the belief that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Surely, this stuff isn't based on "reason and good sense", but it's not surprising, given what many people in Christendom currently have a need to believe in.


Corky said...

The authors of 2 Peter weren't talking about a 6,000 year plan but were making an excuse for why Jesus had not returned within the time that the apostles had predicted. Far be it from them to have been wrong or mistaken. Oh no, it's the scoffers who misunderstood what was said.

Yeah, and the Armstrongs and the other ministers never did say that 1972 would be the beginning of the great tribulation and that Jesus would return in 1975 - we just misunderstood... Liars!

Besides all that, it's been well over 6,000 years since A&E according to biblical genealogies - even if you fudge a year or two here and there.

Anonymous said...

That was a great post, Dennis. I thought you and others might appreciate this somewhat related webcomic:


Head Usher said...

Isa 55:8 For as my thoughts are not your thoughts,
And my ways are not your ways,
Neither are my facts your facts, says the Lord. (WGMV)

Seriously, somebody needs to write this version.

DennisCDiehl said...

Great cartoon anon!

Byker Bob said...

This 6,000 plan is a theory based upon the imposition of numerology on the Bible. No way is any such plan specifically taught by or described in scripture.

Conjecture was often presented as fact by Armstrongism, and even now, we are witnessing preservationist refugees from the Hulme group treating British Israelism as if it were revealed truth not to be corrected or discarded. As we all know here, it is the key to MISunderstanding our national identity as well as prophecy, but there are probably people in the ACOGs who would be willing to even face death to keep it alive.

Really, the best any of us can do is to seek out what could most reasonably be understood as truth, and attempt to employ it in such a way as to live the best lives possible, using out talents to make things better for humanity.