and Bible Society|
Moundridge, KS 67107
To Whom It May Concern:
I recently and anonymously
received two of your tracts in the mail. Since I didn't send away for them,
I'm assuming I was given them because I quoted Genesis 1:14 on an ad for free
astrological birth charts. Or maybe it was because of my letter to the editor
advocating equal rights for gays. I would have replied directly to the sender,
but perhaps they didn't have enough conviction of their faith to correspond
with me personally. But then that's just speculation and judgment on my part.
And as Matthew 7:1 reminds us, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."
Before addressing the tracts
I was sent (entitled "The One and Only True God: Do You Know Him?" and "What
Must I Do To Be Saved?"), I'm making an assumption that you believe in multiple
interpretations of the Bible since you add to what is actually written. As
an example, see the "What Must..." tract where you insert explanations of
the passage from Revelations. Since words have been added that are not in
the actual text of the Bible, you are not using a literal interpretation,
but one of many interpretations. I realize you believe yours is the correct
interpretation— if you didn't, why would you believe it in the first place?
But I would like to offer my own interpretation that was derived at after
much prayer, meditation and study, including completely reading the Bible
from Genesis to Revelations twice. (To be perfectly honest with you, I'm
still three hundred and fifty pages short of completing the second reading.)
In the event my assumption
about literal interpretation is incorrect, I will offer my arguments for
why the Bible cannot be literally interpreted. Throughout his teachings, Jesus
uses parables to explain the lessons he is teaching. In Matthew 13:10-11,
"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in
parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to
know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given."
In this passage, Jesus says that there will be multiple lessons learned from
his teachings, with at least one lesson revealing the mysteries of the kingdom
of heaven and at least one that masks that mystery yet still teaches a valuable
lesson to those who hear it. Jesus uses parables for the simple reason that
it is possible to derive multiple lessons from them, all of which are true.
For example, in the parable of the prodigal son, on a literal level, the
lesson to be learned is that a father (not a mother) must welcome home a
son (not a daughter) who has squandered everything the father gave him. And
when that son comes back, the father will stop what he is doing, prepare
a feast to welcome him home using the best resources he has available to
him. On another, broader level, that same parable is teaching that children
often make mistakes and come back to the parent seeking further assistance.
In such a case, the parent should not chastise the child, but give whatever
assistance is needed. On a still broader level, it is a lesson to mankind
in general to refrain from judging another simply because their lifestyle
is not what we would have lived. (As seen in the brother's condemnation of
his father's actions and the father's refusal to listen to him.) And on a
still broader level, the father is God and man is the prodigal son. No matter
what man does, God will welcome us home and celebrate our return. That is
only one example of multiple interpretations of the Bible.
A second argument in favor
of a non-literal interpretation of the Bible is that, if it were to be interpreted
literally and still maintain its timeless nature, we would be required to
make sacrifices just like the Jews of old. If, however, we recognize that
the messages of the Bible were written in context with the times, we can
derive the deeper meaning and maintain the timeless messages it contains.
In Deuteronomy 30:11-14, it's written "For this commandment which I command
thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not
in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and
bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the
sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring
it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto
thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it." God calls
to each of us in different ways, therefore his commandment to each of us
is different, even if only in phrasing.
That said, back to the
tract entitled "The One and Only God: Do You Know Him?" In I Chronicles
28:9, it's written "...for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth
all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found
of thee;..." I interpret this passage to read that whatever means man uses
to worship God, even if not as proscribed in the Bible, God will realize
what man's intent was. This is further backed up in II Chronicles 15:17 where
it says, "But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless
the heart of Asa was perfect all his days." What God does not want is for
man to worship that "which were the work of the hands of man." (II Chronicles
32:19) And who is this God we are supposed to worship? In I John 4:8, we're
told "God is love." It's really an amazing statement when time is taken to
analyze it. It's the only place I've been able to find where it's written
that God is what we consider an emotion. There are places where it's written
God was angry or God hated the evil done by man, but no where does it say,
"God is anger" or "God is hate." Love comes in many shapes, colors and forms.
The love of a parent for a child is not exactly the same as the love a wife
has for her husband. So how are we supposed to love? In Matthew 22:35-40,
we're told by Jesus that the two greatest commandments are "to love the Lord
they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind"
and to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Therefore, when we love, we are in
essence worshiping God. How we love is not important� II Chronicles 33:17
it's written "Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places,
yet unto the Lord their God only." It's not what we call God, or how we worship
him that's important. There are many sides or parts to God, just as their
are many ideas in one mind. Ultimately, though, there is only one God, and
God is love. So, to answer the question posed in the tract's title, yes,
I do know God.
To answer the second tract,
we must keep God's commandments to be saved. Those commandments are given
by Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40. And in II John 1:5-6, it's written: "...not
as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from
the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after
his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the
beginning, ye should walk in it." In II Peter, 1:5-7, we're told again how
we must live our lives. "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your
faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to
temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly
kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity [love]." We must remember that
we are our brother's keeper and seek to look out for him and let God look
out for us. In doing so, we are doing what Jesus did� loving his neighbor
as he loved himself while loving God with all his heart, soul and mind. And
as Jesus found eternal happiness in heaven with God, so too will we if we
live our lives as Jesus led his.
Thanks for allowing me
the opportunity to share my beliefs with you. And thank you for sharing yours
with me through the tracts provided. Since I know it costs money to print
them, I have returned them to you that you may give them to someone else
who may need them more than I.
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