Sunday, May 13, 2007

"Humble yourself"

It didn't take long. My wife's family is now reported to be praying for me. The line from a prayer went something like this, "...and help him to humble himself before the eternal god..." or something like that.

I had wondered how long it would take someone to repeat that line to me. Humble yourself. As if I've erected myself into the position of god and am following my own wisdom over his. How did I know that this would be said of me, or to me? I said it myself many times. The logic goes something like this. We know that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. In it we find exactly what he wants us to understand in order to attain salvation and glorify him. Those who question the Bible are in effect questioning the wisdom of God. Those who dare to suggest that some part or all of it may be wrong are treading on hollowed ground, and are following their own wisdom rather than God's. They should humble themselves in the presence of God and declare their error and recognize his perfect wisdom.

Isn't that what every cult leader has told his followers over the centuries? Hasn't that logic been used to control the followers of some sect or religion and keep their most crucial ideas alive in the collective minds of the followers? And, have we learned nothing by history?

Mormons are taught not to question the Book of Mormon or the prophets. Should we all simply accept that Mormons are correct and Joseph Smith is indeed a prophet of God? Should we ignore the abysmal lack of archeological evidence supporting the stories and claims of the Book of Mormon, and should we ignore the DNA evidence that proves that the American Indians were not the lost tribes of Israel who migrated from through Europe, but rather are descendants of Asians? Should we ignore all the evidence against that book and simply accept it as true?

We as Christian scholars use the rigors of logic, science and history when examining and refuting the claims of other religions. Yet, when those same rigors are employed to disprove a claim from the Bible then we insist that men should humble themselves before God and leave behind their own logic and follow God's instead. Never mind that there is evidence upon evidence insisting that there was not, and could not, have been a global flood. Never mind that without the flood dynamics the geological formations require time orders of magnitude beyond 6000 years (even a global flood does not explain the geological formations). Never mind that there are mountains of evidence of a very old and very active Earth. Are we simply to humble ourselves and ignore what we see and what we know to be true and accept something without question and examination just because it is purported to be from God? Can we apply logic and investigation to refute cult leaders, but not mainstream religious ideas and foundations?

Humble myself? What is so humble about ignoring truth - and how does that glorify an eternal and omnipotent God? Did God created a wonderful fairytale, deliver it to his people, and insist that they believe it and not what they clearly see around them? Did the God who commanded, "Thou Shalt not Lie" lie to us? Does he want us to believe a lie? Is that our definition of "humble"?

I believe that Christians should re-examine their beliefs. Jesus Christ sounds like a wonderful person. But if Noah's flood can not stand up to examination, how am I to believe that Jesus was resurrected and promises to give to me eternal life if I believe in Him? Paul insists that He is superior to angels in every way, and one of the evidences is that through Him the universe and the world was created. If Christians insist that this creation was a very recent and very instantaneous event, do they not stand in danger of invalidating the credibility of Jesus entirely?

Humble myself? Let popes, cardinals, priests and pastors take off their smugness and their ceremonial and pompous robes and let's see them give their all to the redemption of the people of Africa who are starving and suffering the worst drought, and the most beastly in-fighting in recent history, and let them humble themselves to the teaching of Jesus. "Love one another." It's not a trick question. The world is very old. The flood did not happen. People are starving in Africa. These are facts. Humble myself? Remove the Redwood Forest from your own eye and then you'll be able to see well enough to help me flick out the specks or two that I have in my own.

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