God Speaks To Us?
By Bob E.
I would really like to salute PB for his or her brilliant compilation. It graphically illustrates a point which I was attempting to make in my most recent article regarding what could happen in Petra if one of the Worldwide Church of God+ Cultmasters decided to re-implement Old Testament Law. The anthropomorphism (man's tendency to create a god in his own image) of primitive tribal Israel appears to lean towards great savagery, to say the least. We know that God doesn't appear to be verifiably speaking thru any religious leaders today. Herbert Armstrong's interpretations of prophecy were 100% inaccurate. Oral Roberts quickly became Rectal Roberts, when he said that if his foundation didn't receive so many millions of dollars by a specific date, God would take him home, and then God apparently reneged. And, you have the Pope sitting on the fence regarding his pedophile priests. So in ancient times, you probably had a high priest who was the moral equivalent of a David Koresh or Jim Jones, issuing these outrageous commands, and, to add authenticity, claiming that the commands were based on his personal conversation with God. Since the historical narrative happens to appear in a book on which many religions are based, it is all assumed today in this era to be true. Now, I don't doubt that the Israelites committed all of the atrocities described. Ancient, uncivilized tribal peoples were most savage! My point, is that based on what we've experienced in our place in history, with religious leaders claiming that God spoke directly with them, why should we expect that it was any different in the time of the Bible? Anthropomorphism gives you a god with human flaws. How else can you rationalize "Go, and slay utterly the Amalekites..." coming from an entity who has commanded you "Thou shalt not kill!"
The survivors always have the privilege of writing history from their perspective. Precisely who actually wrote the Bible has always been a matter of speculation, even among Biblical scholars usually known as the "higher critics". In many cases, oral tradition was the basis, with a scholar who could actually read and write, finally committing this tradition (which was probably like the old game of Gossip which many of us played in school) to quill and scroll hundreds of years after the fact! One curious, but generally unknown, set of facts further illuminates the process by which divine inspiration apparently worked. King James, who commissioned the translation of the surviving ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts into English, so that his subjects could become educated first hand in the teachings of the Bible, was also a patron of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare had written his play Macbeth in honor of King James' rise to the throne. There was a committee of fifty-four scholars who were given the laborious responsibility of performing the translation. We don't know who these scholars were either by name or reputation. But, it is well known that Shakespeare used to encrypt his signature into his plays thru clever little anagrams, acronyms, and other plays on words. Apparently, he felt that this would authenticate his authorship throughout history if there were ever any doubt. If you read the 46th Psalm, and count exactly 46 words from the beginning, you will find the word "shake". If you then count backwards, 46 words from the end of the Psalm (not counting the word "Selah", because it is not an English word), you will come upon the word "spear"! Shake-spear! The old bard apparently failed to restrain himself from playing his usual games, even for something so important as the Holy Bible! Does anyone recall hearing this from the Worldwide Church of God+ ministers or Herbert W. Armstrong? We were taught that every word was inspired, despite the frailties of mortal man, and that the book was perfect as is, in every way! The left over books from the same period, which are part of the Catholic Bible were considered apocryphal, as was the book of Enoch from which Dr. Gene Scott, another TV evangelist taught regularly.
We live in a fascinating time. British Israelism has just been thoroughly debunked by genetic science. Scholars can now translate all of the ancient Egyptian historical manuscripts precisely, and, surprise, surprise, these conflict directly in many ways with occurrences during the same periods of time chronicled by the Torah, particularly the events surrounding the exodus. I believe that it is just a matter of time until the Bible, or the manuscripts upon which it is based, are analyzed by advanced computer program, and we will see some more enlightenment concerning it's authorship! But, let's not stop at the Bible. I've read a lot of letters to this and other sites recommending that we explore and embrace other world religions, with the writer's favorite Eastern religion usually being getting top billing. Why bother? That would have about the same value and for that matter display the same type of logic, as comparison shopping for diarrhea! We all do have a spiritual side, and to nourish and explore this, philosophers, human behavioralists, and psychologists alike have all exhorted us to "Know thyself." Additionally, the basic premise to guide the building of a better world is the so-called Golden Rule. It is at once, both secular, and deeply spiritual. It is the synopsis of the more civilized parts of all of the holy books and requires thought to implement, is non-violent, and would be respected and admired by visitors to any society so-governed. And, you don't need an angry egotistical murderer-god, self-appointed apostle, or system of Orwellian religion to teach and enforce it!
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