Steven James: We Don’t Need to ‘Sugarcoat’ The Bible

The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It deals with people just like us, just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them. Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how earthy the Bible really is. They feel the need to tidy up God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6, and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8 rather than a pile of crap, as the Greek would more accurately be translated.

The point? God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life on a fractured planet. I believe that Scripture includes such graphic material to show how far we, as a race, have fallen and how far God was willing to come to rescue us from ourselves.

God is much more interested in honesty than pietism. And that’s what he gives us throughout Scripture, telling the stories of people who struggled with the same issues, questions and temptations we face today. We don’t need to edit God. We need to let him be the author of our new lives.

Source: CNN

Image: Holy Bible

Humanity Survives End of the World Prediction

It has long been assumed that there are some organizations that believed that at precisely 6 p.m. on the 21st of May in the year 2011, it would be the “end of the world”. There are also some religious leaders that proclaim that the rapture would occur on this day. And on Saturday, as believers of the apocalypse saw the deadline come and pass, many of them were shocked and mystified that life went on without a hitch.

One of the strongest advocates of the prediction, Harold Camping, had reportedly not shown up for work on the day, and was again not seen in public after the deadline had passed. The 89-year old preacher had convinced himself and hundreds of his followers that the date would indeed be the end of the world. Camping heads the Family Radio Network of Christian stations that broadcast their beliefs to over 66 U.S. stations and through international affiliates.

One of Camping’s followers includes retired transportation agency worker Robert Fitzpatrick, who spent $140,000 of his life savings on posters and billboards advertising the warning of impending doom in May 21. Fitzpatrick stood in the middle of New York’s Times Square as he waited for Judgment day and was utterly confused when the day had passed without event.

Camping had previously failed to predict that Judgment day would occur in 1994. He stated then that it was a mathematical error and had later restated that date to be May 21, 2011. As May 21 passed on to May 22, Camping’s Family Radio played church music and broadcast devotionals and other life advice that wasn’t related to Judgment day.

A week before the 21st, Camping had stated that he was sure of the coming end and that the world should prepare. Dozens of his followers had driven vehicles with the May 21 warnings put up in big billboards and other followers all over the world handed out pamphlets about the supposed end. But a day after his prediction, his company’s headquarters were closed and Camping could not be reached for comment.

According to Camping’s prediction, on May 21st, the earth would be torn apart by earthquakes and there would be millions of deaths in the upcoming months until the world would be completely destroyed in October 21, 2011. Camping drew expected criticism from non-believers about his claims, but also received criticism from Christians who pointed out that the bible says no one would know the exact time and date of Judgment Day.