Do I believe the Bible is wrong?

Hi.

I wrote an article yesterday. I think I need to clarify something.

I believe God created the world.

I believe the Bible is 100%, completely correct.

I am nearly 100% certain my professor feels the same way.

What happened in the classroom that day was nothing more than our professor saying, “Hey, there’s a contradiction here. So these look like two separate accounts of creation.” This was something I’d never heard before, and it was hard not to immediately reject the idea of Genesis not being… what I thought it was.

But our professor continued: “Since the Bible wouldn’t contradict itself like that, let’s figure out why there are two separate accounts of creation.”

My intent of that post was to explore that idea that these accounts are busy conveying theological truths about God, and that maybe they shouldn’t be taken as 100% historic, scientific fact. But part of those theological truths are that “God created the world” and “God handmade humans”.

(I understand that the “firmament” issue can be partially explained by a guess that there was, originally, a firmament, and that it was removed during the Flood; it also seems likely that that was just how all those ancient cultures at the time understood the world, and that it would make more sense to them to say “God created the firmament, and it’s just creation, not a god, just like the sun and moon and stars” (because other cultures thought gods held up the sky). They’re two different views, but neither of them, in my mind, raise doubts as to the validity of the Bible.)

If I’m in the wrong in these views, then I’ll gladly accept more information. And if I miscommunicated in my previous post, I apologize. I was intrigued by the fact that I’d never really paid attention to the fact that the two accounts were, well, different. And I realized that I couldn’t quite treat Genesis 1 and 2 as – basically – a replacement for a history textbook like I’d done before. I’d never read the two chapters, together, critically.

But I’m grateful that I got the chance to do so. I know that there are plenty of people out there who do think that the Bible contradicts itself – but, from what I’ve seen, that happens only when people take verses and segments out of the context of the Bible itself, the culture of the time, the passages surrounding the verses. I might not ever learn how to argue against evolution, but I can and will learn how to correct that mindset, given half a chance.

Be a blessing, and be blessed!
Rachel

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Genesis: Science or Theology?

I was stunned when my Old Testament Literature professor told us – a week into my first semester back at school – that the Book of Genesis (particularly the first eleven chapters) was not a historical account. I was floored when he showed us why: there are actually two different accounts of creation in the book of Genesis. And they contradict each other.

Wasn’t this a Christian college? Didn’t we start the class off in prayer? My professor didn’t seem like one of those crazies – he might be from New Zealand, but he seemed respectable, knowledgeable about the Bible and faith! Yet he was starting the class by telling us that God didn’t create the world – that the Bible contradicted itself – images of Luther’s 95 Theses flashed through my head, stapled to the classroom door instead of the church’s. You can’t do this!

I was so ready to go all Martin Luther on him, you don’t even know.

Fortunately, I’d been doing nothing more than making assumptions – assumptions which the next four lectures debunked.

I thought I’d read the first two chapters of Genesis, but somehow, years of Sunday School and sermons had led me to gloss over the fact that Genesis 1-2 contains two separate creation accounts. The first is the one we all know: God said “let there be light”, and there was light. Firmament, land, plants, sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, animals, humans. Nice and ordered list in seven days – a bit out of logical order, but it’s all good, right?

But then we get to Genesis 2, and we see “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Wait, didn’t we just see that in Genesis 1:1? And Genesis 2 is already talking about shrubs, how did the land get there? Speaking of which – Genesis 1 – it makes it sound like water was already there, and it never actually talks about God creating the planet itself, and okay, what the heck is a firmament?

I’ll admit, I was panicking a bit. I’d professed my Bible, my God, to be infallible. I’d been utterly confident that we people did not evolve from ancestral apes, yet here everything was being challenged. And our professor didn’t need to do anything more than ask us to actually look, read, ask questions. It wasn’t our professor who was challenging my faith; it was the Bible itself.

Thankfully, he didn’t leave us stranded. The Bible might not be an accurate, scientifically, historically correct account, he told us: then again, the ancient Hebrews weren’t interested in recording one of those. We need to keep in mind that our culture today is highly scientific and has been heading in this direction for many hundreds of years. Facts need to be given, empirical evidence shown; if you can’t prove it, you’ll lose it. Scientific studies creep their way into the mainstream. The most highly lauded jobs are ones in the engineering or sciences fields.

Things haven’t always been like that. (And that doesn’t make our cultural mindset any better, either, I’d like to point out!) Back in the ancient Israelites’ day, surrounding cultures thought the sun was a god, the moon was a god, the waters were gods, the animals were gods (or ruled by gods). To the Israelites and their culture, saying the sun was nothing more than an object that one God had placed in the sky was radical. To them, it was different to know that the sun would rise and set and the stars would continue to mark the seasons, always, until the end of the world. It had nothing to do with how often they worshiped or what their gods were feeling like on that particular day; it was simply how the world was.

They didn’t intend for their account of God’s creation of the world to impart knowledge about the date of world formation or to debunk evolution (which, by the way, didn’t crop up until about 200 years ago, very generally speaking). They couldn’t; they didn’t have the knowledge – nor, I think, the desire.

So why did they write Genesis? What was the point of it then, what’s the point of it today?

Well… even if it doesn’t say God created the planet, it does show without a doubt that God is powerful, and he was in control when the planet and the stars and the moon and all of that were being fleshed out. So that’s something. Both accounts see the formation of man as the most important thing, too, even if they’re out of order.

And even though God’s working with an earth already made in both accounts – it sounds like the earth wasn’t a great place to live. One was all covered in water and empty and the other was just a barren desert. And God turned them into good places to live – good places for people to live.

I have plenty of other things to pull out, but I’m starting to notice a pattern. I’m learning a lot about God from this.

God is powerful and in control of everything – that’s pretty different from the other cultures around the Israelites. That’s pretty significant. And mankind is the most important part of creation. I bet you could even say that creation was created for mankind. That all-powerful God thinks we’re something important; that sounds significant too. And – God created a good place to live in the middle of a chaotic world. That last one sounds pretty applicable to us today, actually…

I want to dive into both accounts in more detail at some point. But one thing I want to make clear: Genesis isn’t showing us historical fact so much as it’s showing us who, exactly, the God in the rest of this book is. And after having a month to mull over that idea, I have to say, I think that’s a bit more important than precise scientific detail. Science is important – don’t get me wrong – but… we’re talking about the God of the universe here. If the story about Him and His chosen people and His plan of salvation doesn’t start off the book by talking about Him, I think we’d have issues.

There’s one other thing I learned from this incident, and it’s this: We are never done learning about our faith. No matter how much we might know about the Bible, about creation, about God, there is always more to learn. And that isn’t a bad thing. Expanding our knowledge of God grows our faith in leaps and bounds, helps equip us with truth and confidence.

But it requires us to step out of our comfort zone, put some of the beliefs we grew up with aside. (I caution you to be certain of the validity of the beliefs you take on; don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge everything you hear!) I felt like I was betraying my faith, somehow, by letting go of Genesis 1 and 2 as a purely scientific account; I could hear every recent conversation I’d had with someone on the subject ringing in my ears, reminding me that I’d be going back on what I’d so confidently thought was true. But growth is hard and painful and, at times, unpleasant. That doesn’t make it bad or wrong. And slowly – eventually – with the Spirit’s help – understanding has grown in ways I didn’t dream imaginable. Instead of simply losing an argument, of defense for the Bible, I’d gained ten more.

I encourage all of you to challenge yourselves today, to step out of the comfort zones of your faith. Pray and seek somewhere you’ve always stagnated. Push for renewal. I promise you, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Be a blessing and be blessed!

Edit: Just in case I didn’t make it clear, I do still believe the Bible to be inerrant, and my professor takes the same stance. The only thing that ended up being challenged was the way those chapters were viewed, contextually.

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Beautiful, No Filter

Such an awesome idea!! Pass it around, ladies! #beautifulnofilter

Taken the second time we met <3

Taken the second time hubby and I met ❤

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Diamonds in the Rough

There’s a girl I’ve known for a good two or three years now. We’re ‘net friends – as the gamers say, we haven’t met “irl” (in real life). But there are certain things that can’t be faked for such an extended length of time. Eventually, e-buddies or not, if you spend enough genuine time around someone (provided they’re not phenomenal liars), you’ll get to know them. Perhaps not their mannerisms: how cleanly they keep themselves, if they’re prone to being more impulsive face-to-face. But from my experience, and if you pay attention, their core personality and their moral values tend to stay the same, whether you’re over the internet or face to face.

This particular friend of mine is a very high-minded person. When we first met, I thought she was rather emotional, even if I could (begrudgingly at the time) respect someone so outspoken.

As time passed, I came to appreciate her loyalty. As we spoke about more personal things, I was surprised by her passion for helping others – extending so far as to attempt to put herself through medical school to become an ER doctor, simply so that she could anonymously save lives. More recently, I’ve realized that this woman who so constantly belittles herself is both very self-motivated and academically excellent.

As our conversation turned to Christianity, something she hasn’t pursued since she was in her early teens, I was floored by her knowledge of Bible verses. This last week or two she’s texted me different verses around the concept of loving others as Christ has loved us. It’s all from the top of her head, as far as I can tell. I’ve been thrilled to find another friend to share this with.

The phrase diamond in the rough has struck me so, so many times lately when it comes to her, though. Here’s this girl who, from what I’ve seen and understand, most people steer clear of. She’s brash, outspoken – stuck in a small-time job and going to a community college.

But years of friendship have let me see glimpses of something more: a true friend, dedicated to the betterment of humanity, trying to show God’s love instead of shoving the Bible at people, intelligent, witty, willing to take criticism for the sake of making herself better.

I can’t help but wonder if that is almost like how God sees us. Not in the specifics, of course; everyone is different, and their good qualities shine through in different ways. For example, I would not call my husband charitable as my friend is, but he is steadfast and resolute in a way I have not seen from anyone else yet. While he is slow to make decisions, once he makes them, he will stick with them until the end of time – frustrating in its own right, but profoundly reassuring when it comes to our marriage (and, perhaps, to faith, should he come to Christ).

No – I wonder if God sees us all as diamonds in the rough. After all, He created us in His own image. We are all made with our own strengths and purposes – the Body of Christ must have different members.

But sin and this world casts what God created into imperfection. We are not as we were created to be; that is the entire point of Christ coming to earth. We were not made to suffer, to feel pain, to die – that came as part of the curse of Man’s fall and separation from God. But we do. We have become ‘in the rough’. Our brilliance has become imperfect, dim, covered in the dirt and grime of this world.

A long time ago, I was talking to someone about how God intended us to be perfect, and that in Heaven, we would be. Their reply was something along the lines of “I don’t want to be perfect, though. That’s completely boring – I wouldn’t be myself. I’d rather be in Hell and remain true to myself.” At the time I was so flabbergasted that I had no idea what to say – and I wasn’t sure if anything I could say would be true.

I believe, at the time, I had an inkling to the fact that we would still be ourselves in Heaven. Over time, and in the back of my head, my response to that has evolved.

Just like a diamond in the rough, we’re not perfect. We’re a diamond, all right – but misshapen, covered in grime, uncut, unable to shine properly. And in a way, I cannot blame the person I was talking to for thinking the way they were; I’ve thought similar, myself. I am myself, faults, grime, and all; I’m imperfect, and making me perfect is going to take away all of my imperfections, make me something I’m not; turn me into one of those church-going snobs or some dull, drab adult who doesn’t know how to laugh at a good joke or run amok in the rain.

And perhaps, in a way, it’s true. If a diamond is cleaned and cut and polished, it’s losing a lot of itself. It will no longer look as it did – except, perhaps, to someone who knew what they were doing, maybe only to the crafter himself. But I raise you a question: isn’t it the same diamond? To which the reply would most likely be “Yes… and no.”

In the end, it is the same substance – cut of the same material. However, it does not look the same, and is missing a lot of it.

So another question: Isn’t the cut and crafted diamond, well, better? When it is cut and cleaned, you can use it. If not for jewelry, then for saws or drills, or even just to admire when the sun hits it just right and it explodes into color. A diamond in the rough might be pretty, might be a diamond – but not until it is crafted can it truly shine.

I like to think of us in the same way. We are all made in God’s image – but so submerged in dirt and grown in the wrong direction that we’re really rather helpless. It takes a true craftsman to look at an uncut diamond and figure out where, precisely, it must be struck (and, I imagine, this process is different for any diamond due to fault lines and so forth), what must be cut off, how best to polish it.

It is a painful process. And the diamond cannot cut and clean itself, no matter how hard it tries – neither can we. We must go to our Crafter and let Him do the work for us; all He asks is that we be willing to be changed to what He knows will be best.

But, in the same way, when we come out of the process, when we are in Heaven, when we are finished and complete, it is only then that our true nature shines. Clean of the muck of this world (which we would gladly hang on to), we will become who we truly are. Not some mindless automation. We are still made of the same stuff.

It’s simply that we’ll be even better – and made perfectly to refract the Light of this world, to make it even more beautiful.

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Our God of Second Chances

Not again! Agh!!

Today’s car struggle might not have been as dramatic as the last, but it was entirely my fault. No one was hurt (except my pride) and the car will be recoverable (even if I’m going to have to fess up to the family member we borrowed it from) and I can’t even claim people were rough with me for the mistake (even Hubby was surprisingly gentle when I told him!). 

When the family member loaned the car to us, he told us that one of the tires had a slow leak, and that would need to be filled up periodically. I knew that and even learned how to work the portable air compressor he gave us with the car. 

However, leaky tires were the last thing on my mind this morning. I woke up about an hour early for church – as always, intending to get some Bible reading in – and as always, getting distracted by Facebook, emails, Youtube… anything and everything but God. Suddenly it was 9, and I needed to rush to get ready.

The clanging, rattling sound the car was making was written off as something weird but workable. Same with how it kept pulling to the right. (I guess we’ve had such poor experience with cars so far that I’ll roll with just about anything – at least, that’s what I’m telling myself!) It wasn’t until I saw smoke coming from the front right of the car that I decided it was time to pull over at the nearest gas station.

I was treated with this lovely sight:

image

 

I got advice from quite a few people while I was trying to figure out what to do, since Hubby was at church with his phone silenced, and I didn’t have the number for the person we’d borrowed it from. I took the advice of the fellow working at the gas station and left the car there for a mechanic to check out tomorrow morning, with the car keys and my phone number. 

But now I’m home with the cat, waiting for a church friend who offered to drive me in to work. Hubby has been called, mom has been told, and now it’s just me… me and God. 

Rejoice. Hope. Persevere. Dwell on what is good. Do not worry. All of these commands are here in my head. God has blessed us and blessed us. One mistake does not change the fact that I am still His child. The what-if’s and self-blame are from our adversary, not from our Father. 

But how do I rejoice, when I’m so humiliated about my blunder with the car? What about so guilty about the fact that I’d ignored Him this morning?

I fired up the computer as I was texting mom. I stared at my travel bible and wondered where I should read, wondered what I should write about for a post (since I was feeling guilty about not writing last night). I decided to watch a sermon from mom’s church instead – partially for inspiration, partially some way to make up for my missed time with God this morning. And as I was watching, I realized something important.

I was getting a second chance at starting my day off right. 

What a mercy that is! That realization really shook me up, completely re-framed what had happened. I paused that sermon and immediately went to the Lord in prayer.

For the first time today I felt peace. Not that I “made up” for my mistakes by getting in some God time, but because I am forgiven, entirely. The hymn ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ has been on my mind all morning, and now I have the verse in Lamentations open next to me –

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
Therefore I will wait for him.” -Lamentations 3:22-24

I have hope this morning: that no matter what happens, I can and will rejoice – because He has given me great joy! He will always, always forgive, so long as we seek Him. He will be with me as we get the next bit of this car drama sorted out.

And none of my mistakes hold a candle to His great love for me.

Praying that all of you have a blessed morning, my friends!
Rachel

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Busy busy busy!

And I thought Monday was busy.

I guess I owe a bit of an explanation for the delay in posts after doing so many in a row. Long story short, I work about 50 hours a week (barring days off due to unforeseen circumstances – for example, a car crash 😛 ) and am working on eliminating my days off. 

This is just for the summer, though. I’m setting up to go to school in the fall. While I am new to the campus, I’m bringing in enough credits from my attempt at getting a Chemical Engineering degree over in Ohio that I’m technically a sophomore… it’s a bit odd, but I’m told transfer students usually end up with odd circumstances like that.

Soooo! Wednesday, I worked (only 7 1/2 hours, a short day), and Thursday, hubby and I worked for two hours before heading over to Nyack for my “freshman” orientation. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the school, our orientation, along with the basic college orientation layout, also contained a lot of prayer, a lot of talk of dress codes and curfews – and, of course, beautiful views like this:

(My phone was dying, so this image is borrowed, http://nyackrotary.org/wp-kr77za7/uploads/officer-induction-20120613-01.jpg)

It’s one of the top ten best views from a college campus in the country. All that hiking was worth it!

I ended up switching my major from a combined religion/psychology to straight psychology, with a Bible minor and a possible music minor (I played the flute for a good 10 years in grade school and really miss it). Lots of talks with my counselor and the dean of the school of music ensued. 

We got home around 5 or 6 PM from that, but hubby and I were in the middle of a fight, so getting that sorted out took a while – and, of course, my legs weren’t too happy about being put through that much work so soon after the crash. We both passed out pretty early.

Friday was an 11 1/2 hour work day, since I do both jobs – and then afterwards, one of the ladies from my church offered to take me to their monthly craft night to help out with VBS t-shirt making. I think she took pity on me when she heard that hubby was heading to Ohio Friday afternoon to pick up our new car and that I’d be alone…

…yes, you heard that right, new car!

My mom and stepdad took it upon themselves to hit up their favorite mechanic on Tuesday to see what he had for sale. Mom kind of sprang it on me (something I do not take kindly to) and, since hubby and I don’t have much money to spare, the car would be pretty much a gift. I was not a happy camper that night!! Ms. Rachel over here does not like expensive gifts.

It took gentle coaxing from numerous people for me to realize that, in the end, the car was a gift to ensure hubby and I were getting where we needed to go safely. My boss was kind enough to forward pay me for the month, so we could afford to give mom a bit of a downpayment. 

I promise I’ll get a Bible-study-type post out tonight and maybe a few pre-planned for the rest of the week. I’m writing from work right now – but can’t be doing that for long – it’s packing week for my boss’s subscription box business, so every minute I’m not working the store itself, I need to be doing that! 

The biggest thing, though, I can say for these last few days… I can’t do any of this by myself! Exhausted and frazzled as I am, I’d be too worried about the future to function if it weren’t for the fact that I know that God has been faithfully providing for our needs these last few days and will SURELY continue to do so!

“The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” -Exodus 15:2

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Rumination

I have to say, I’m glad I put up last night’s post when I did. I’m not sure I would have if I’d gone through the rest of last night’s events.

Easy rejoicing was cut off rather abruptly when I realized I might very well have lost a friend over an unintentional, but serious, mistake. If it had been a question of my faith, perhaps it would have been a bit easier to deal with, but as it stands, the error was in misrepresentation – not an offense on faith grounds, but an insult to another.

But at the end of a night with little sleep, I have to wonder if I’m still being pushed to learn – learn to accept.

Hubby held me for a long time while I cried last night. One of the things he told me, quite simply, was that I had done everything I could to rectify the situation with my friend. At this point, the metaphorical ball is out of my hands and in my friend’s – in God’s.

But that’s so hard to accept! I hate leaving an argument unresolved, just like I hate the shame that comes from this kind of a mistake. I want there to be a fix, an elegant solution, a way my friend and I can come out of this a bit bruised but closer because of it.

I think back on the post I wrote about Job (removed while I edit) and that Philippians verse: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!”

I think on the fact that I know the Lord will forgive even this sin. On the fact that He will work all to good for those that love Him.

I’m still trying to understand it, still trying to understand how to praise Him now. “You are the great God of the universe, loving and faithful, and you are good, Lord… but back to the issue at hand, where did I go wrong and how do I fix it?”

It almost reminds me of the struggles I have with accepting gifts larger than I deem appropriate. It reaches a point where I’m no longer grateful, for the gifts are always freely given, but wrapped up in worry and panic over how much it had cost the other person, to the point where I’m no longer thinking clearly in the slightest. And by that I mean minor panic attacks, crying, etc. (If anyone thinks this is an admirable flaw to have, I ask them to get in touch with me personally so I can correct them!)

In both cases – both with my friend and in a recent example of this “accepting gifts problem” – that word accept has cropped up an uncomfortable amount of times.

How much am I fighting for control in these situations that I have little to none over? To accept the desires of others towards me, no matter how I feel about them – or to accept situations themselves, once I’ve reached the point where I, again, have no control… oh, God, how much do I do this to You without realizing it? How much do I try to play God in my own life, refusing to submit to the fact that You already have it in hand?

Does anyone know a passage (or two, or five, or twenty) I can read that pertains to this? I’m being drawn to the Psalms, but that’s a long book.

Going to get some more sleep before work. God bless, everyone.

 

Edit, three hours later.

I’ve brought this issue before a lot of people. Two Christian friends, my husband (while not saved, has been hearing me talk about God – he’s also my proofreader, and he has a good concept on some of these values) and, in the last three hours, my mom and aunt. And all have unanimously said the same thing.

Keep the post in question up.

Mom and my aunt have both termed it spiritual warfare. And I know fully well that making sure those around me are happy can be a huge area of compromise for me – being offensive is not something I’m familiar with.

So much of the New Testament is filled with encouragement to surround yourself with other believers for support, and this incident has been a clear picture as to why. My aunt is walking me through the reasoning now: that while it’s right not to want to alienate my friend, it’s my friend doing the alienating right now. And I shouldn’t be assuming that he’s ready for the Lord yet! This might only be the first step for him.

Instead, those of you reading – I’m asking for prayer for that friend, that he finds peace and understanding and guidance from the Lord, wherever it leads him. That whoever is placed in his life, that they lead him to our true God! Let’s be prayer warriors today. Amen?

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