I have the unique honor to be the only person I know kicked out of Bible study.
How did this happen?
The Bold Banner said come get your questions answered. A cartoon figure is carrying a question mark to the rectory. I had many well researched dilemmas needing answering. I soon learned this was not a study per se, but a rally to incite allegiance. I studied the Bible diligently, examining the era and symbolism of the time period. I read early Church father writings. My trouble was making the Gospels mesh with the writings of Paul and some of Paul’s writings mesh with each other. I approached the Pastor and he encouraged my to join but first he gave me a gift.
The Pastor gave me a book called Seven Reasons You Can Trust the Bible. Linguistically styles and biblical phrases had seemed out of place to me. I devoured the small book given me to prop up my faith, hoping it would do so. I was tired of feeling like an impostor and fearing I be called upon to offer prayers.
However, I hadn’t yet read the body of the book when I found some disturbing information in the introduction. The authors admit that the Greek writing of Mark was so poor that it needed correction for translation. The text assured the reader that the corrections were not arbitrary, in fact, they used Mathew and Luke as a guide. (The last verses were even added as an addendum originally). Eventually the addendum was written into the Gospel itself—not to be discovered until Erasmus did his translation 1000 years later. Back to bible study.
The Pastor was extolling the virtues of the synoptic Gospels. He said they must be true because three separate individuals wrote them and they are virtually identical. The few discrepancies are to be expected and are of no concern.
I raised my hand and mentioned the book he had given me, a smile of satisfaction lit his face, for the moment. I quoted the introduction which claimed the Gospels had been corrected. So, I asked wouldn’t that account for the likenesses and isn’t it possible the Gospels aren’t as perfect as we claim?
He stammered but after regaining his composure explained that the content wasn’t altered only the grammar was corrected. Quickly he adverted his eyes and went to another question.
I interjected, “if Mark says God is in you and the grammar police change it to the more popular with you, have we not changed the message”?
He answered, ” But the saying with you was a popular saying at the time and is reasonable as correction”.
“Yes”, I reply, “but a popular Gnostic saying was, May God be in you”, It is commonly found in the Nag Hammadi scrolls of Gnostic origin.
None of my fellow students will look at me, many look disgusted. Shouldn’t we be getting all questions answered, not just the affirming ones? The pastor takes a different tack, authored by the current crop of apologists. He quotes verses that can be seen as Jesus affirming his divinity, although none are blatantly clear. Jesus claims he is God, the Pastor loudly proclaims, not once but twice for emphasize, only a crazy man or the true son of God would make such a statement.
1 According to the historian Josephus many would be messiahs were making this claim. So is this that unusual?
2. In fact he really didn’t say he was God the father and defers to him on many instances. The Pastor quotes Jesus when the pharisees question his divinity. Jesus responds, I am. This seems clear in English but what about Hebrew — God is loosely translated as I AM THAT I AM and saying I am is equivalent to announcing a lordship or messiah but not God the father. The Buddha used a similar proclamation. Another possibility exists, we are misinterpreting this exchange or a misspelling has occurred. With so many possibilities using an either or argument is not valid or convincing.
My goal was to believe like my friends, my support system of 5 years, and the last thing I wanted was alienation. Naively I believed my insights would be accepted and adopted, bringing us closer to the true teachings, but truth was far outweighed by the comfort of blind belief. I asked few questions after gauging the responses of others, even among my closest friends, and still I got a call from the Pastor at home asking me to not attend Bible study–apparently my questions were too deep and could frighten new or potential converts. WHAT HAPPENED TO TRUTH< PAUL SAID THOSE WHO STUDY SCRIPTURE AND QUESTION WHAT THEY HAVE HEARD ARE NOBLE>
These so called friends didn’t even try to cure me or correct my ways. I couldn’t understand why for the longest time and then I slowly realized that my doubt and illumination of contradictions caused them anxiety they could not bear.