Okay, I wanted to post this long ago but just never got around to doing it. I've been busy with stuff and you can never rush out a blog post when you've got stuff to do! My blog posts usually take hours to complete. So here's to you, Ami and Hsieh Wen, here's a blog post at long last, even though I just bought that Macbook and haven't even started it up and I've got an English class worksheet to do up and tomorrow I've got that Resorts World interview and tuition class till 9.30 and I'm probably going to sleep at 3am or something tonight. And this is for Sam and Daryl too, because I told you guys I'd post the questions I had but just never got around to doing it!
Okay. For anyone who likes long posts, here we go...
So there's my whole big 1 Timothy 2 question about Paul's point about disallowing the women of that specific church from trying to usurp the authority of the men because they were being disruptive and stuff. I mean, I'm fine with that; I just don't really see the link between that particular command for that particular church, and the reasons he gave that pertain to women in general. Why should the fact that Eve sinned first affect my ability to be in a position of authority now, since Jesus has died and redeemed us all equally already? And why does it say that I will be saved through childbearing? What... what is that?
I raised the question to a few of the awesome pastors of the church before, and to my cell group leader and to dear Mr Fong, and they all gave opinions that were valuable and that I learnt from. They're great inputs, just that the explanations are a little too long to post here, and Daniel talked about the "For Adam was made first, not Eve" bit with me already, so I didn't include it here. And from the responses I received, I think it's pretty much agreed on that women in general are not limited to submissive roles, and that childbearing isn't a "condition" for salvation. But yeah, it's just a bit unsettling a paragraph, and it's hard to see the Bible as a hundred percent flawless and perfect with this and Paul's reasoning given. I'm very open to others' inputs and stuff, so do let me know if you have thought about this question yourself! Oh, and Mr Fong was supposed to show me the notes he had on this chapter that might answer my questions, but I keep forgetting to ask him about it.
Besides that, I've encountered a few questions in the past three weeks. Some have been answered, in which case I probably won't put them up here unless I feel they're really beneficial for others, but I'll post those that are unanswered as of yet here:
Easy one first. When Jesus healed the leper in Matthew 8, he said "See that you tell no one". When he healed the multitudes in Matthew 12, he "warned them not to make Him known" (12:16). In Matthew 16, when Peter said Jesus was the Messiah, "He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ". ...Why did he not want anyone to know? I mean, he was pretty public about healing and miracles and telling people that he was the Son of Man, right?
(This is probably an easy question; do let me know if you know why!)
Second. We all know that the "wages of sin is death", and I thought about the reason for it before, and came to the conclusion that because God is life, and God is perfection and absolute holiness, a life that departs from God... departs from life, so anything that's not good, the opposite of God, is also the opposite of life, aka death. Okay, I spent hours thinking about it and writing it down so there's a lot more to it, and I was thinking about why blood had to be shed as the price for sin and stuff. If you'd like to know more about my reasoning and conclusions, let me know :) But here's my question.
Genesis 2:17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
Of course, we all assume that that death is physical death; we've learnt that from Sunday school. But also, there are three types of death: the physical, the spiritual and the eternal.
I was just considering the diction used in Genesis 2 and 3. After the act of sin, God says in 3:22, "What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!" (NLT).
The NKJV says "And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"
And here's another version, the MSG: "What if he now should reach out and take fruit from the Tree-of-Life and eat, and live forever? Never—this cannot happen!”
Now, this is after they sinned and death fell upon them, so maybe that's why the wording was as such. Perhaps they were initially designed to live physically forever, but because mortality fell upon them, God couldn't let them become immortal again.
But here's another way of looking at it. Perhaps Man was initially mortal, but the tree of knowledge and the tree of (physical eternal) life were both in the Garden of Eden as things that Man could possibly get, but would not get until Adam had eaten the respective fruits. Since He ate from the tree of knowledge, we all have knowledge of "good and evil". What if he didn't sin, but did not eat from the tree of life, either? Would we still have been mortal by default?
Here's another example of diction to back up my point, although also not concrete and strong:
Genesis 2:17 "Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it':
"Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.
With "for your sake" and "for you", it's easy to conclude that the reason Man has to toil for their livelihoods and suffer the wrath of the earth is that act of sin. But how about "Till you return to the ground"? That sounds like it's already a given, doesn't it? It's like, "Because you sinned, you shall toil for your food and livelihood until the day that you die." It sounds like it was already assumed that life on Earth wasn't meant to be eternal in the first place.
"For our of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return" just sounds like God's reasoning for mortality. And it's completely valid. Man, along with all other creatures, came from dust, and return to dust. It's the cycle of life, and that's what makes life sustainable. If we were meant to multiply, wouldn't there have to be some measure in place to ensure that our population remained sustainable? I mean, if humans were to live eternally, this place would be crowded, man!
So my question is: When God said "you shall surely die", did he just mean the spiritual and eternal death, but not the physical? Was human physical death already a given, just as how everything else on Earth lives and dies?
Phew! Long question, that.
Pretty much all of us say, and believe, that the Bible is infallible, perfect, the absolute authority, etc. I'm okay with infallible; it just means "without error". But I don't think I can agree that it's perfect. I talked about this with Xi Min, and he brought up a good point: it's written in a human language, something that's already imperfect, and unable to express fully the perfection of God.
In addition, maybe the Bible was more perfect in its original versions and when the books were written in Hebrew and Greek, but translations definitely result in the loss of meaning. Like the types of 'love' that are differentiated in Greek, but not in English (and that's why we add "agape", "eros", "philia" and "storge" as a modifier to "love" when we want to be more specific. Okay, usually just "agape"). And, especially, the two types of "gifts": dorea and charisma, which is so important when looking at the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and Tongues in particular (Ask me if you're interested!). My point being, because of translations, so much meaning has been lost or changed. And its 100% literal perfection just can't sustain itself because of so many translations it's been through. I mean, I even get different definitions by reading different English versions.
And then there are the books of the Bible and how they've changed over the years. I mean, for a very long time, Esther wasn't a book in the Bible, and Judith was in the Bible for a very long time, and other books were often considered a part of the Bible too, like Wisdom. Revelation was even considered "spurious" at one point in time! I attended a little workshop called the Canonisation of the Bible during NUS VCF's Annual Teach-In Camp (it was fantastic) and it made me wonder: What makes a book more authoritative than another book, if they're all divinely inspired? There were so many versions of the Bible throughout the years, with various books included and excluded; which was the "perfect" one? We all considered it perfect in our own times.
What is perfect? It's inerrant, sure, but "perfect" is a big word. I can definitely accept that the Bible is faultless and the final authority, but "perfect"... well, we can't use a human language, or even a human mind, to fathom God's perfection!
Okay, this is more like a stream of consciousness than an actual question.
I came across an article, too, that brought up a fantastic point: Confining ourselves to the literal will never bring us much. We have to stop obsessing over which version is "perfect" and "best to read" and "most accurate", because the Holy Spirit reveals what He wants us to see individually! It's the difference between the logos - the entire black-and-white literal words of the Bible - and the rhema, the spoken revelations by the Holy Spirit for a particular situation, where your eyes could be opened to an entirely different way of seeing the verse you've already known all your life.
Mark 5:1-19 talks about "a man with an unclean spirit" (the Legion story). Luke 8:26-39 talks about the same guy, "a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time". These two versions say it's just one man, but Matthew 8:28 talks about the same situation, but with "two demon-possessed men". Has anyone else looked into this before?
Okay, this post is crazy long and I still haven't done my English worksheets. My last point is a question that I've thought about and found a conclusion to, but I still have more to learn about it. But I think it will help some people, so I'll blog it in the next post...