Wednesday, April 22, 2009
"The Unvarnished Gospels"
Mark A. Weinstein
One of the primary and most prominent things as a theological student that I have come to learn is that people interpret the Bible to meet their needs. This is not to say that they purposely distort gospel for personal benefits, but it can rather be likened to wearing goggles underwater. What I mean is this; while sight does remain when donning the goggles and going underwater, the vision is cloudy. So too are people's perceptions when it comes to understanding the true intent of the Bible. Because we as humans carry with us a large amount of baggage, we often see situations through a fog. This fog works on everything we see, hear, and learn, and only in its context do we take in new information. Hence, the word interpret comes into play. Four letter words are wrong and should never be used in public that is my thought exactly when I hear the word interpret in conjunction with the Bible.
People will do one of several things to "interpret" the Bible to fit their needs. First, they simply pick out a word or two that meets their situation, and use it as a foundation for their actions. Nothing wrong with this mind you, except that the truth is often times lost when this is done. Secondly, they put off the meaning that they do extract from the text as simply being outdated, or caused by a language barrier. Again, to each his own, but to play off changing the intent of scripture to an inability to truly comprehend the intended Truth is simply laziness. If you don't understand the intent, study and learn. Finally, we have those who profess that only portions of the text are really God spoken, with some simply being the thoughts, wishes, and direction of the author (not God but the actual writer). To these I say, "Which brick do you take from a foundation and hope to maintain the integrity of the building?" How can we decide which of God's words to remove from the Bible and still insure that we have kept its intent? In the end Christ himself told us that we are either with Him or against Him, nothing in between.
To that end, I make my segue to the text at hand. The Unvarnished Gospels (UVG) addresses these aforementioned conditions in a way that I have not seen before. Many translations of the Bible go a long way in helping one understand the true intent, but this book takes it one step further. When reading this text there is no difficulty in understanding, a need to dig deep for jewels of content, or struggle to understand outdated contexts. One can simply sit down, enjoy the content, and truly gain an understanding of the Word of God and He intended. I am thankful to have read this book and will undoubtedly use this text for reference far into the future. There were many instances during the reading of this book that I might say was an "AHAA" moment; I will mention just a few.
One thing that many struggle with is whether Christ came to judge, be judged, or save. Yes, is the final answer. Many times in my choice of translations, the KJV, it is difficult to decipher Christ's words due to the language it is written in and with. The UVG takes away that barrier and in plain, understandable, and infallible, language tells us that Christ came not to judge, but to be judged, yet He will be that by which others will be compared. We must come to Christ or spend an eternity in Hell, end of point. There is no argument against this point when read in the plain text put forth here. Christ came to give us eternal salvation and only through his death and resurrection can that be a possibility.
A second point that is often argued is that of eating the Bread of Life. Some argue that this is symbolic and open to all; others that this is actual and therefore one must be righteous do partake. This is the first text that I know of that explains Christ's words in a way that makes it indisputable. Symbolically we take of the sacraments in honoring all that Christ gave for us and in professing our commitment to Him and His ways. Of course we cannot be righteous prior to accepting, or many times after taking, the Body of Christ, that is exactly the idea. If we were righteous then there would be no need for Christ to have given His life and suffered in death for us. Only because this book is so well written can one put to rest this age-old argument.
There are so many more things that come to light as one reads this book, more than I can remember. What I will do is keep this book handy as I prepare my sermons so that this vivid and clear perspective is always available to shed some Light on whatever subject I choose to explore. I applaud you for a well written book and class; one that I would recommend to others should I be asked.
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