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Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 05 September 2013

POINTLESS ARGUMENTS PREVENT ACTION

By Jim Jordal

You’ve no doubt heard it many times: In the year 4004 BC God created the earth in seven linear days. That date was arrived at by Dr. C. I. Scofield, editor of the well-known Scofield Reference Bible, by counting backward from Christ using biblical genealogies and life spans to arrive at his version of the creation date.

I was raised to accept this truth as a foundation stone of Christianity, never to be doubted at the risk of eternal hell fire. The Scofield Reference Bible was the valued source of Bible interpretation in my church. If Dr. Scofield said it, then it must be true. A bit troubling to "solid rock" believers is the revelation that near the end of his life Scofield admitted that the literal days he spoke of could possibly have been eons of time in length.

It is not my point to argue whether or not this belief is true, but to merely ask if we should continue to devote energy to it considering that we and the world now face much greater problems that need our attention far more than does a literal creation story.

In her book, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey, Jane Goodall, of African chimpanzee research fame, discusses her early upbringing, which was much the same as mine. But as she matured she traded parts of her sheltered traditional upbringing for a wider worldview. That epiphany acquainted her with the many destructive things humans had done to the earth, its flora and fauna, and to themselves, causing her to wonder if we didn’t need to think more deeply about our future and less about our past. As she puts it: "How we humans came to be the way we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves." That’s worth considering.

If your understanding of the gospel and your faith in Christ depends upon your uncritical acceptance of denominational dogma, you’re missing something. Yes, there are eternal truths that do not and should not change: the virgin birth, Christ’s crucifixion, his resurrection, the sovereignty of God, and so on. But unfortunately, the gospel messages of mercy and human justice are usually not among them.

We speak continually of "knowing" Jesus. But knowing Jesus is not an intellectual activity; it is spiritual in nature and arises from an intimate sharing in his suffering, death, and resurrection. It is experienced, not just explained by words. Believe it or not, Jesus can be found at places other than a church. He can be found in the touch of a friend, the smile of a spouse, the sound of wind blowing through the trees, the cries of a newborn baby, and the beauties of nature. He can also be found in the most abject human misery in a soul-numbing ghetto or among the banners, signs, and swelling crowds of a march for human dignity and justice.

Knowing Jesus does not come through repeating a creed or singing a liturgy or even through memorized, stultifying prayer. It comes from experiencing Jesus in every aspect of human life, from inexpressible joy to petrifying sorrow; from mental challenge to deep emotional bonding, whether working or praying. It comes from being overcome by the beauties of nature, or the love of animals, or practically anything, since God is in everything and is not restrained by our self-imposed human limitations. Especially in matters of faith do we too often allow excessively structured worship experiences to block our experience with God.

Never before in human history have we had the ability to completely destroy us and our planet through nuclear war, global warming, overpopulation, germ warfare or whatever other forms of destruction we can invent. It’s time to stop arguing over religious trivia and to consider the absolute necessity of turning to our Creator in contrition and repentance. Then, and only then, will deliverance be possible. We will not in our own intelligence and initiative find our way to deliverance from the world we have created. We will only make it worse. It’s time to try God’s way!