The mind isn’t changed by someone else. The mind is changed by a willingness to be changed. A changed mind receives, sorts and sifts by using the wisdom, facts and knowledge at hand and then retains and discards that which does not fall into those (and perhaps even instinctual ) categories.
If I sound like I’m an expert on the subject, I’m not. However, as someone who deals with both the Old Testament (Hebrew) and the New Testament (Christian) Bible, I’m always struck by how the Bible is understood by those who read it.
I don’t know why I never encased the Bible in a steel vault, never to be taken apart and examined. I was, and am, always curious to examine a new idea about the Bible. Do I swallow everything which comes down the track? No. I see way too much of that from those who listen to and watch preachers as if everything they say is right from the mouth of God. (As if God had a mouth.)
I remember in a religion class, the teacher, Pat Harrell, said the passage in Matt. 19:24 (also in Mark and Luke) about the camel going through the eye of a needle could also mean a rope going through the eye of a needle. All I’d ever heard was about a (fictional) gate used to sneak into the city which was so small a camel could barely get through. Wow, I was impressed! It seems the two Greek words are very close in spelling and in being copied over and over it was possible a scribe may not have been able to tell what the scribe before him had written and did the best he could with it. Or, as some people, who rather insist it was “camel” say, it was hyperbole. The reason given is that if it isn’t camel, the inspiration (truth) of the scripture becomes suspect. My mind doesn’t work that way. Rope makes more sense to me, but camel is equally a hard thing to thread a needle with.
What I’ve noticed is that when such “changes” in long-held understandings are offered, there is an instant closed-mindedness expressed by a good number who refuse to accept any possible change.
Here’s another example. When Paul preached at Troas a young man named Eutychus, fell asleep and fell from a third floor window. He survived. Now, what I found interesting, as told by someone who also liked to look beyond the surface, that “Eutychus” means “fortunate.” Now, was that his name, or was that what he was called? It could be both, but to some the very thought that it may be more of a definition, rather than his name, is offensive. Remember, there are no upper case letters in Greek.
How about the story of young David killing the giant Goliath? Was David at a disadvantage when he went out to fight with only a slingshot? It makes a great story. Would learning something about “slingers” be too offensive? Joel Baden, Old Testament teacher at Yale, and writer Malcomb Gladwell, looking at the story of David and Goliath, says David was not at the disadvantage in the fight with Goliath that is traditionally depicted. David, as young as he was, was a “slinger.” A “slinger” was a person expert in using the sling as a weapon. Such people throughout history have been known to be able to hit a target at over a hundred yards. At 38 yards a stone could hit traveling at about 37 yards per second.
In a battle with a lumbering nine- foot tall man weighed down with armor, with a sword, which to use, he would have to get within striking distance, a slinger would have about as much advantage as a 45 caliber bullet against a knife. Slingers, like archers, could kill from a distance. However, an archer would be seen as an archer, and defended as such. The element of a bag of rocks and a sling gives an advantage of surprise.
Does that destroy the story of David and Goliath? I’m sure there are some people who will not entertain the possibility that the “slinger” idea can be true, even though it has historical president. Why? Because when it comes to the Bible and not just the Bible, the mind refuses to accept anything new.
Why are such examples worth thinking about? Because resistance to such changes in thinking also penetrate deeper issues.
Slavery was justified for centuries based on Biblical reading. Rev. Ebenezer W. Warren in a 1864 pro-slavery book, said it was against scripture to oppose slavery because the Bible said slaves should obey their masters just as children should obey their parents.
The same has been true when it comes to gender equality. This is still an ongoing issue. Those who used scripture to subjugate women have had to yield, even though they are not open about it. In my younger days a woman’s place was in the home, as it seemed to be for all time. However, in war-time things changed. Women worked outside the home. Again as inflation hit. One blue-collar salary was not enough. Preachers who had held the stay-at home-mom view found that their income from preaching did not meet the family needs, especially in formal education. So they eased up on that.
The view of divorce and remarriage changed because of a deeper investigation of scripture, at least for some. Adultery, is recognized as not just sexual, but also a breaking of the covenant vows of marriage, just as Israel was adulteress when it broke the covenant with God. Much of that was with another “love” idols.
It was inevitable that this would lead to a second look at the Bible and the recognition of the equality of women in all aspects of the church as have we and others, but still a minority in our churches.
There are other hard issues where scripture, along with current science, medicine and culture need to be examined.
When I’m gone I don’t want to be remembered as someone who shut the doors of the kingdom of God against those Jesus would welcome. I’d rather God tell me I opened them too wide, than not enough.
CONCERNS: Former members Debbie and Ray Reiss’s son-in-law has had a portion of a large tumor removed from his brain. Tests are being done to determine a course of action. Deanna McRoy, her type of cancer is prone to return. Richard Foy is doing better. Keep the parents of the Beach’s and Del Bolin’s mother and Teryn Gaynor’s parents in prayer. Leena Bolin’s friend is still dealing with stress related issues. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Amber is totally paralyzed. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry and family. Wayne Phlegar, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
Today is Super Sunday. After the morning service we will enjoy our monthly fellowship dinner in the annex. Please stay and enjoy this time together.
THE SERVICE TODAY
Since this is the third Sunday of the month, the service will be conducted by Susan Jordan. Thank you Susan for sharing with us today. Her theme is “Then Sings My Soul.”
THE STEERING COMMITTEE
The steering committee will meet in the library following the Super Sunday meal to continue talking about the plan to upgrade the annex lighting and acoustics.
While we have had some of our folks away, we have been blessed to have visitors from Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Washington DC with us this month
In 1977, the governor of West Virginia, Jay Rockefeller, was warned of an impending blizzard coming from the west. He canceled businesses, government and schools and told everyone to go home and be prepared.
That day the sky was a strange beautiful blue. An eerie calm ensued. Everyone got ready for the “big one.” As I remember, not one flake of snow fell in most of the state. You can read about it on the internet.
Wednesday, a severe storm was pounding Smith Mt. Lake. Martha Albert was not able to get out. Storms were in most counties around us and we were told we’d all get some rain. Over half of the Wednesday crowd was not coming. So the service was canceled. Guess what? Not a drop of rain fell in Roanoke! O well.