Friday, October 9, 2015

Made with wings

Written to a young Nigerian who wrote on a social networking page, ‘I can prove that Christianity is fake.’

Brother, I don't know your name, but this word is for you,

You have done a lot of study, you have displayed your knowledge for us, you have even shown us that you can include Greek and Arabic text and names in your demonstrations, though I am not sure that you can read and understand those languages. Myself, I can read Arabic with some understanding, so the Qur'an is open to me in the original. But more importantly, I can read and understand Greek fluently, and so the New Testament as well as the Greek version of the Old Testament are open to me in the original. (I also can read Hebrew and understand it relatively well, so the Tanakh and Talmud is somewhat open to me.) These are not my boasts, but I want to be fair with you, to know with whom you are dealing, though I am not here to debate. This is what you apparently want to do, so my words will be brief and do not require a response.

To help you along with your reasoning, I have this to say.

Do not make assumptions or build your arguments on the English text of the Bible or the Qur'an, especially the Bible, because no translation perfectly expresses the meaning of the original. What are we to do then? Can't we argue from the translated texts? To this I would answer, No, we cannot, but the reason may be not what you might expect. It's not because the translations are not exact or various between the many versions, but because meaning is dependent on living reality, on actual existence, and does not really reside in the words of the Bible (I limit myself to the Bible, as the Qur'an to me is not scripture at all), in no matter which language.

You have learning, intellectual ability, access to documentation. You have a reasoning mind, a perceptive mind, and you have found a field in which you have done a lot of digging with your mind, but you will never find what is living under all that weight of topsoil, clay and rocks. You may find a buried treasure there, if you are lucky, but only the dead are buried in that field, not the Living. I think you want to find the Living, because you want to justify your own life, you want to be convinced that you are alive, and for a reason, and you want others to be as fortunate as you are, in knowing the Truth.

But you haven't found the Truth yet, brother, because you are still digging where only the dead are buried. Thoughts have no life in them, ideas have no life. They take on reality only when Life is breathed into them. Until that time, they are merely thoughts, merely words to be blabbed into the air, creating sounds that could have meaning if someone heard them, but even then, only the Living can hear. All our study, all our enquiry, all our investigation, all our reasoning with the results, all of it, all of it is still-life, like a painting of fruits in a bowl, or flowers in vase, or a plate with bread, knife and a jug of milk. But you cannot taste those fruits, nor smell those blossoms, you cannot cut and eat that bread or drink that milk—it's only a painting, not the reality. This is where all our research, thinking and reasoning will get us: no further than creating a still-life, a mere image, not the Reality, not the Living, not the Truth.

What else can I say?
Brother, don't turn your life into death. Don't train your mind's eye on itself, but look outward, upward, receive your sight, and learn what or who the Truth is by living, by studying not words and ideas, but people, the world, life and death, faith and doubt, love and hate, man and woman, age and youth, wealth and poverty, health and sickness, and the list goes on in no particular order. But enter into this path as if there were no other, leave behind all opinions, even yours, abandon all defenses and the desire to win, let yourself be as fresh from the taint of death as a newborn baby, and then breathe in as for the first time the breath of Life, and in due course your eyes really will open, and not in books and words and ideas will you find the Truth, but in the face of the Living, the True, the Faithful.

What was all this banter about religions true and false?
Did I dream about it long ago? Was I ever awake before, or only now?

This is where you want to go, brother.
Stop yourself in your tracks,
raise your eyes up, and fly, don't walk.
You were made with wings.
Use them.

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way He asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ He asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Mark 8:27-29 NIV

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