Always Trust Really Smart People

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NOT! But let me explain…

This week in my Middle Ages History class I studied about the Bubonic Plague in the early 14th Century. It was THEE WORST natural disaster in Western history (perhaps human history), claiming the lives of one-third to one-half of Europe’s population, or 35 million people in three years. No one knew exactly how it was transmitted, but they suspected it spread from person to person, perhaps even by speaking to an infected person or having any contact with them. Others thought the Jews contaminated the community water source because the Jews weren’t getting the plague like others. This typical ignorance led to massive slaughtering and burning of thousands of innocent Jews.

So infectious was the plague that there were eerie reports of “death ships” drifting aimlessly at sea, where every crew member had died on board. When the ships were found, the only signs of life were the voracious rats feasting on dead corpses and cargo.

Once a person fell ill to the horrible symptoms (massive boils in the lymph nodes in the thighs and upper arms, excruciating pain, and vomiting blood), it was lights out for that person in a matter of three short days.

During that time, the most brilliant scientists and doctors formulated causes and cures for the plague—many of them godly or religious men. Some thought it was a punishment from God or the start of the “tribulation.” Those at the medical school at the University of Paris studied the epidemic and “confidently reported to King Philip VI that it was the result of an unfortunate alignment of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the night sky…” (Worlds of Medieval Europe, 2002). Their recommendations for treatment of the disease were to boil blind, de-limbed puppies and bathe in the water four hours after every meal. Oh yeah, also they should avoid sleeping during daylight, exercise, and fish. Fat people should sit in the sun. Olive oil might kill them, so definitely stay away from that. Use regular enemas, and realize that sexual intercourse with women is lethal (narrows the options :D).

As an aside, it was later discovered that the bubonic plague was transmitted by flea bites and could not be transferred from person to person through casual contact.

I find it ironic how even the most brilliant and learned people in all societies can be so far off reality in their dogmatic beliefs. When you think of all we know scientifically now, yet how in the knowing we have realized we have infinitely more to learn, we hopefully begin to realize that it is not good to be too dogmatic about anything.

I learned in microbiology, for instance, that since the discovery of the high powered (electron) microscopes in the last hundred years, it’s been estimated that only 2% of the microbes that make up our world have even been identified and a very small percentage of those—like only 2%!—can even be studied in a lab (kept alive). I don’t exactly know how they know that they’ve only identified 2% but that’s why I’m not a scientist :D.

All this is to say that I sometimes get criticized by some people for writing a book that takes on the views of many smart and scholarly folks down through centuries. Supposedly these smart folks KNOW the truth, and they have arrived at all we need to know in order to know everything.

I don’t buy it, and neither should you.

Bible scholars, pastors, and theologians, like scientists, have possibly identified 2% (although even this high of a number is doubtful) of what Scriptures are really about and if they dogmatically explain everything to you as if they know what most of it’s about, they are either very blind and/or very misled, and certainly very arrogant. And if you believe them without looking more into yourself, then I propose that you have been misled along with them. We have bought into the lie that we fully understand the cause and the cure.

On what do I base such outlandish claims? Listen, I have an entire 200-page book sitting on my shelf, written by a Hebrew scholar, exploring all the inherent and layered meanings in the original language text of GENESIS 1:1 (yes, that’s one verse)! Even then the author claims that he has only scratched the surface after 200 exciting, thought-provoking pages. Most folks don’t even realize just how complex the Hebrew language is, but the Jews claim (and I believe them) that the whole of the Torah can be found in every single verse of the Torah! How is this possible? Maybe you will need to do some research on the amazing layers of the Hebrew characters and language.

As I mature in life, I realize that a greater understanding of what can be known simply leads to a greater understanding of what is not known.

I hope you will take this to heart. The Scriptures are far deeper and more complex than you and I have ever imagined possible, primarily because we listened to really smart people, assuming they told us all we needed to know, and stopped searching for understanding. The Scriptures are living and active. They unfold in layers of understanding through time. Like our amazingly crafted and complex universe, their depths are unplumbable, at least in this age of limited understanding.

And I might add, it is not always smart people who have the greatest understanding about things, it is the children who dare to question and to think for themselves. Let us become like children and learn to question, wonder, and set about discovery.

“At that very time [Jesus] rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight’” (Luke 10:21).

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  • jferwerd

    I might add that church doctrines and dogmas are an affront to what most Christians would claim as a "spirit-led" journey. Churches would be better served by leaving their statements of faith to something more simple such as: Our mission is to love God and love people. Everything else is a discovery process.

  • The more people think they know, the less they really do. And I love this! I love that there are layers to the bible and it's mystical and even magickal force.. May we all learn to take its words with more humility and patience…then in turn offer more patience with each other as we study it.

    • jferwerd

      Amen to that! I love the breakthrough here, and the learning that there is so much more to know. The Bible used to be stale and locked up. Wow…I am so amazed.

  • Damian Masters

    You hit another nail on the head. You are getting pretty good with that hammer. I would just like to add. Everthing comes from our Father, everthing. Just Ask for His truth and then expect it. Don't believe Julie, She is also one of those really smart people, She wants us to look it up ourselfs. She knows the search is half the fun. The more we ask the more is revealed. Thanks Julie, love your smartness.

  • Michael Snider

    The wisdom of man is foolishness to God. Thank you for such a colorful and thought provoking article. If only the smart churchmen could read it and undrstand. You have opened my mind to the delight of studing the bible again!

  • Regarding the children – the other day I was at a used book sale and I bought The Emperor's New Clothes from Golden Books. I want to use the pages, but put different words to it, telling the story of churchianity for a video, but I've been so busy I might not get to it for a few more weeks. Do you want to write the script?

  • Lamont

    “…how complex the Hebrew language is, but the Jews claim (and I believe them) that the whole of the Torah can be found in every single verse of the Torah!”

    Even if it were true (and I do not believe that is), how is it that they cannot find Messiah in them, yet that is the purpose of the whole of scripture?

    Mans problem isn’t knowledge! It’s spiritual ”blindness” or “deadness.”

  • lamont

    Jesus to the Jewish scholars: “You search the Scriptures because you think that ‘IN THEM’ you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are ‘UNWILLING TO COME TO ME’ so that you may have life.” Jn 5:39, 40. (emphasis mine). Hence they perish.

    These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?” 39 For this reason they ‘COULD NOT’ believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” Jn 36b-40. (emphasis mine).

    “And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." Jn 6:65

  • lamont

    Julie.

    How come these Jewish scholars can't find Jesus (which the entire Bible testify's about Him) but they can find the entire Torah written in a single verse of the Torah?

    • Good question. Their eyes are blind to the main theme.

      But they'll be opened one day, and that'll be like resurrection from the dead.

      In fact, everyone's eyes will be opened one day, and that will be wonderful

  • Nelson

    @Julie – Great post! As you know, I have started a pretty intense study of the Zohar (for those who don't know what it is – The Zohar is a mystical commentary of the Torah and it is the foundation text of Kabbalah). Studying this text is fascinating but, have you ever wondered why we spend so much time studying bronze age text that have already proven to be more fallible then infallible? With all the advancements in science we have already seen a number of ancient/bibilcal beliefs about earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, medicines and the heavens to be totally off base. Don't get me wrong, I still study them but perhaps the texts need a bit of an update. (before my Christian friends get upset – long before the time of Jesus the Torah had commentary – in fact it was always encouraged – the Sermon on the Mount was Jesus's commentary on the Torah)

    @Lamont – The reason Jews do not find Jesus in the Torah is because he isn't in the Torah. Very simple. The christian concept of the messiah has nothing to do with the Jewish concept. In fact, Jesus did not fulfill a single messianic prophecy.

    Nelson http://quest4light.net