Patterns over proof texting
Our quest is by no means finished. We know we need an infinite good person. We know that Christianity is our last remaining hope of finding a verifiable channel of communication. However, we still have not proved that the Christian God is our infinite good person, nor have we proved Christianity is correct. In fact, I think it is safe to say that most of Christianity must be incorrect, because of such a broad spectrum of extremes and contradictions.
So how do we solve our problem? By ignoring it. The problem on which most of us focus is the popular Christianity of today—the widespread ignorance, superficiality, and hypocrisy of professed believers. They are not our problem nor are they our solution.
Our goal is to verify (or not) that God is an infinite good person, that he can explain and fix the entire conflict between good and evil, and that he can transform us into unselfish people. These expectations are real and reasonable. We should stay focused on them.
Our question is, How do we get past all the inconsistent and confusing claims and doctrines? By climbing down the family tree of churches to the roots. We get past all the chewed leaves, dead twigs, and thorny vines by going down the trunk to the roots from which they all grow. Where do all the churches come from? The answer is in the Apostles’ Creed—the apostles and prophets.
All of them contributed to the Bible (Greek transliteration for The Book) which was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek between 2,000 and 3,500 years ago. The entire hodgepodge of Christian denominations is based upon that set of teachings claiming completeness. It only makes sense to examine the foundation before trying to build on it. If the foundation is bad, then the whole Christian structure is flawed. If the roots are dead, then the Christian tree is dead.
What does the Bible say? A lot! It has 31,102 verses, 1189 chapters and 66 books written by about 40 people. That is a lot to digest! That is why it is imperative we check for complete, consistent patterns.
Our question is, Is an infinite good person speaking through the book? To fairly answer that question means that we should not bring our preconceptions or our denominational habits of proof texting (cherry picking) to this research project. We need to leave behind our tendencies to pick and choose words and meanings that support our favorite opinions. We don’t like the confusion and contradictions of sectarianism, so why let it be the judge?
Our only question is, What is God telling us? Whether or not we like it, whether or not we ultimately accept it or reject it, is a later personal decision. Our focus now is only, Are these the thoughts of an infinite good person?
And how will we know? Patterns.
We have clearly seen that the universe is built entirely of interaction patterns. We as people operate on patterns of faith, hope, and love. Conflicting patterns of good and evil have led us to the quarantine model as a potential explanation for our current condition. All of this is sourced in an infinite good person. If the Bible is God’s channel of communication then it will be consistent with God’s universe.
What we are seeking in Scripture (another term for the Bible) is God’s thoughts to us, not man’s thoughts about God. We don’t need more ignorant, inconsistent speculation and projection. We should not be content to limit ourselves to what the theologians, or even the prophets and apostles themselves, understood. They may be helpful, but they cannot help us know what God might be saying to me today. A messenger can faithfully deliver a message without understanding all of it.
I hammer home this point because we are all too ready to bow to the conclusions of “experts” on what this word or that phrase must exactly mean for everyone. We attribute power and authority to them when we do that, which calls into question our foundation. Is God the authority speaking through his authorized prophets and apostles, or are the interpretations of theologians the authority?
Humanity has proven again and again that it is all too willing to turn over the responsibility of thinking to leadership. The unavoidable side effect of that decision is to dumb ourselves down and reject personal communion with God.
The only way, the absolute only way, to know if and what God says through Scripture is through patterns. If there is a complete pattern of teaching from beginning to end that is consistent with all possible definitions of each word, then we know God is speaking and we are not imposing.
So is this assertion of patterns over priestly proof texting a pattern taught in the Bible? That is the topic of the next chapter.
In your words:
Can a pipe be rusty on the outside and still have clean water inside? Can a true message from God be communicated through imperfect words or an ignorant messenger? Should experts be authorities or teachers?