Monday, June 9, 2008

With Knowledge Comes...

Before I start to complain, I need to say something first. I love(d) being a Bible major. I never really had any interest in anything before I became one. Except pogs and USC football, but their glory faded quickly. I didn't really think that God was that great until I became one, despite being a Christian since I was five years old. I didn't really think about big or important things until I was a Bible major. God used Biola to wake me up, and for that I am grateful.

Okay, on to the point of the post.

75 units of Bible have messed me up. That's a big statement, and the rest of this post will qualify it and make it more palatable.

Church is a struggle for me. I love it. I love the people. I love the word. I love God. Woot church. However, everything I hear at church, every sermon and worship song, has to pass through this dense jungle called KNOWLEDGE. This jungle grows and feeds off of the 75 units of Bible classes, the 8,000+ pages of reading, and an incalculable amount of blog posts and Bible-themed discussions that have accumulated in my head over these three years. This 'jungle' makes it difficult for biblical truths or words of praise to penetrate my inner being because the truth must fight for its life and prove its worth to me. All my other collected thoughts surround the incoming truth and pummel it until it displays some true grit and is then admitted into my Spiritual Truth Receptacle Zone (STRZ). Allow me to illustrate an instance or two of what happens every ten seconds on a Sunday morning:

The worship band is playing a nice mid-tempo rocker that was probably written around 1990-1991. Sounds innocent enough. A line in the song describes Jesus as the "Lamb of God." That line catches my eye. "Uh oh," I mutter, "here we go again." [What follows is what goes on in my head]

"Ok, 'Lamb of God.' That comes from John 1 and Revelation 5. Typical of John's style, he isn't literally saying Jesus is a lamb, but Jesus' significance is tied up in how the lamb functioned in Jewish society, especially in the religioius sphere. It probably relates to the sacrifical lamb...what's that fancy name for it. Oh, the paschal lamb. It relates to Jesus being the sacrifice for sins. Cool. [Goes back to singing the worship song] But wait, what is the background for John the Baptist calling Jesus "the lamb that takes away the sin of the world" ? Did he know Jesus was going to die on the cross? I don't think so. I know Carson lists 9 different options as the background to this title. What were they? Maybe he's a conquering lamb that will judge the wicked. That fits with John's expectation of the Messiah as seen in the Synoptics. Or...what if the Gospel of John isn't historical? What if John made this story up just to make Jesus look cooler than he is? Everyone thinks John was written late, so maybe I'm being naive in thinking John is accurate. Dang it. [Goes back to singing, although with a tinge of hesitation] Okay, wait, chill out dude. What would Carson say? How would I know??!! Maybe if I read that book on John by Richard Bauckham, then I'd know. But I must know. Well, everyone knows John couldn't have been written in the 2nd century because of that one papyrus, and no one thinks it was influenced by Gnosticism. So Bultmann and Baur are dismissed. Okay, but what if John was written in stages, and different layers were added to make Jesus more miraculous? Does that mean the Jesus Seminar was right? Am I only singing to the Christ of Faith, not the Christ of History? Then God can't exist, but he has to! The Kalam Cosmological Argument proved it! But that also depends on one's idea of causality, and in an open metaphysic I have to take more things into account. I knew I should've studied philosophy. Oh, the song is over. Time to sit down. [Takes seat, wipes brow, and prays] End.

In this example 'the jungle' was the winner. It is a miracle that I ever learn anything at church, much less pay attention to what is going on during the service. I don't have any deep reflections or conclusions on this strange phenomenon, but it is something to think over and examine more.

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