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No more apologies...

YES or NO?!

I was sitting in Ambassador Auditorium at a Bible Study, in the early 80's, on the Nature of God given by the then resident Greek scholar and thinker. He really was a very intelligent teacher and I always enjoyed, to a point, hearing from him. At times, it was an exercise in going around and around but never quite landing anywhere.

The fact that I have yet to understand the true nature of the true God and how He/She/Him/Them relate is irrelevant. It was all pretty heady stuff for WCG ministers and faculty. I'm sure I was not privy to the half of all the drama being played out behind the scenes between those that were teaching and those that thought THEY should be teaching.

But the most hilarious moment came from a simple question in which the questioner, after trying to frame an intelligent question for this very astute teacher on this profound question, said...."please try to use the word 'yes' or 'no' in your answer."

It was a moment of sheer enlightenment. "Please try to use the word 'yes' or 'no' in your answer." I laughed to tears in that way that is much deeper than the comment warranted because it struck at the heart of what many who repeat the mantra, "God said, I believe it, that settles it for me." are incapable of doing---using a yes or no in an answer to a sincere question about obvious contradictions, impossibilities and inconsistencies of scripture. 

So let's take play Yes or No. Take your time but you MUST pick a yes or no for the answer. No yeah-buts. While we are well aware that the Bible speaks of three kinds of leaders in the NT (the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the But-u-sees) try to leave them out of it.

From Matthew 1 and 2

Yes or No: It is interesting that Matthew includes a victim of incest (Tamar), a prostitute (Rahab), a foreigner (Ruth) and an adulteress (Bathsheba) leading up to Mary's birth of Jesus, rather than four upstanding women of Israel in Jesus' lineage.

Yes or No: With Matthew and Luke showing that Jesus' REAL father is not literally Joseph, but rather literally God himself through the Holy Spirit, the idea of Jesus being related through Joseph back to David and Abraham is broken and irrelevant.

Yes or No: While in the context, Isaiah 7:14 predicted the child would literally be named Immanuel, Jesus was never literally called Immanuel. 

Yes or No: Following a star from Iraq/Persia that rises in the East to a specific home West, five miles south of Jerusalem is not literally possible. (Ok, argue comets, and conjunctions of planets if it helps) 

Yes or No: It is odd that Herod and his astrologers could not see the star and could not follow it themselves.

Yes or No: When the Magi arrived, (perhaps up to a year after Jesus birth) Mary and Joseph lived in a house with no mention of a home in Nazareth or a need to go back to another home in Nazareth where they had just come from. 

Yes or No: According to Matthew, lots of children in Bethlehem and the region paid for Jesus birth with their lives so that Jesus as an adult could die for their sins.

Yes or No: The angel told Joseph it was safe to go back to Israel but then changed his mind and told him "oops I forgot about Herod's evil son", so Joseph returned to live for the first time in Nazareth.

Yes or No: All gift shop angels are female and all Bible angels are male.

Yes or No: I can't find any place in the Old Testament where it says a Nazarene is a person who lives in Nazareth and foretells Jesus would be from there. In fact, I can't find Nazareth mentioned as a city in the OT.

Yes or No: Quoting a verse in the OT about Israel exiting Egypt is not much of prophecy of Jesus going home from exile in Egypt.

Yes or No: Matthew knows nothing of homes in Nazareth, taxes, mangers, shepherds, staying in Jerusalem 40 days for Mary to be purified according to Moses, turtle doves (offerings of poor people) and the long quiet trip home to Nazareth.

From Luke 2

Yes or No: Making everyone return to their city of birth to be taxed sounds like a formula for empire wide chaos.

Yes or No: If Jerusalem was able to care for the tens of thousands who came each year to the three great Festivals, one might think there would be more than a few places to stay comfortably especially if one was a young pregnant girl.

Yes or No: It seems odd that Joseph would take a nine-month pregnant Mary on the dangerous trip to Bethlehem when it was not necessary for her to go.

Yes or No: It seems odd that if Zechariah was a Priest in the area of Jerusalem, they might not have thought to let Mary and Joseph stay with them. Mary had just been to see them three months earlier when finding Elizabeth to be six months pregnant.

Yes or No: It is interesting that angels and the heavenly host went out into the fields to sing and witness to a few shepherds who then had to find Jesus and tell everyone else themselves what had happened. (Can't the heavenly host sing for the entire town?)

Yes or No: The Shepherds seemed to know just where to find Jesus without the star.

Yes or No: Eight days after his birth, Jesus was circumcised in Jerusalem.

Yes or No: After 40 days, a time of ritual purification for Mary, they walked peacefully back to Nazareth, to their home, with no mention of fleeing to Egypt.

Yes or No: Living in Bethlehem in your own home, having Magi bring expensive gifts including gold and causing you to have to flee to Egypt for your lives as Herod slaughters all your neighbors children, is not the same story as trekking to Bethlehem to be taxed, giving birth as if no one knew you, and hangin' out for 40 days to safely return home to Nazareth.

Yes or No: If Nazareth was a safe haven, fleeing all the way to Egypt seems unnecessary save for Matthew's need to find more OT prophecies about Jesus.

OK, OK, enough! This "yes" or "no" game can be played with many many Biblical references. Just a few more outside of the Birth Narratives to illustrate.

Yes or No: If in the beginning, there was only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel, (Seth was called the third child of Adam and Eve after he was born after Abel's murder), it seems strange that Cain was worried about those that would kill him if God banished him to wander the earth. There was no one else. Was he waiting for Seth to grow up, marry an as yet unborn sister, and hunt him down with his kids? Did God forget there were no others out there to hunt him?

Yes or No: Jesus overturned the money changers early in his career as John said.
(Jn 2:13)

Yes or No: Jesus overturned the money changers just prior to his arrest and crucifixion as Matthew said. (Matt 21:12).

Yes or No: John names turning water to wine as Jesus first miracle.

Yes or No: Matthew, Mark and Luke never heard of it. 

Yes or No: Paul seems to know nothing of the Gospel accounts of Jesus real life, and says he was simply born of a woman like everyone else.

Instead of "apologizing" which I know is a sincere defense of scripture as presented, the ability to think for oneself and come up with a yes or no is also an excellent exercise in being honest with a presentation. 'Nuff said....the birth narrative realities are my way of asking us to think about what we have always been told by others and honor your own observations about the Bible, without fear what your minister or organizations might think or do.

Dennis Diehl