Out with the Old and in with the New

Hi, everybody!

I would like to invite you all to visit my new site, Everywhere the Light Touches. I will be graduating college soon. Since I quit blogging on this site after my sophomore year of college, I have written a children’s book called Gizmo about a bunny. Hopefully, I will have it published by the end of March. Meanwhile, I have begun writing for a friend’s magazine. Some of you may remember Van Parkman, who wrote a guest post for me on the Greek New Testament. He is publishing a new magazine, The Coolidge Review, in February.

Check out his Indiegogo campaign here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-coolidge-review-a-political-magazine 

My blog, Fascinating Individuals, will be a series of stories about people I find interesting. I plan to write three stories for each of Van’s magazine publications, which will be every two months, one about a young innovator, one about a middle aged person in a working class job, and one about an older person who had an interesting life. My goal is that by writing about three different generations perspectives on the world, life goals, and life experiences, I will expose them to each other. I hope to help soothe the generation gap and lessen the false stereotypes placed on each of them by the others.

I have another blog about Gizmo. I’m currently working on a prequel and a sequel. I will be doing character interviews soon as well as giving away a short story to anyone that signs up for my newsletter!

My final blog is Easy, Gourmet, Gluten-Free Cooking, where I share my original gluten-free recipes. Even if you aren’t gluten-free, most of my recipes are naturally gluten-free, because I like to keep things easy and affordable.

I also have a Travel page, where I will post updates about full-time RVing life. My fiancee and I, are in the process of finding, buying, and renovating an RV, which will be our home for the next few years.

 

I had fun writing for you all. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope to see you on my comments feed soon!

Current Interests and Possible Topics

I am still very much interested in discussing theology and the Church, but I am moving in a new direction. I am thinking about writing about the following things in the future (near or distant, blog or book, I don’t know):

Doubt, more specifically, Thomas’ doubt
Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (I’m currently reading it).
Empiricism and why we shouldn’t fear science
Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans (I’m going to read it next).
Church, what should we be doing vs what we are actually doing
The Environment/Climate Change…should we be concerned or not?
Europe (I traveled in Greece and Germany this summer, and I have some comments on culture and the like).

Before I over book myself, I should stop making this list. If you have any suggestions, hit me up! You know I am always open to what you guys want to read.

New Start…Maybe?

Hi, folks.

I just did some cleaning up on my site and trashed some blogs. It hurts my conscience to know that they have been on the web for over a year now for people to read. Although I do not regret blogging, as it was very good for me and my worldview, but I do need to withdraw some things that I no longer agree with. So, I may start blogging again here and there, but I would like my content to be more of a discussion than a rant this time. I am trying to learn to apply grace in expressing my opinions.

So for now, until/unless some of you interact with me on my thoughts, I will just try to make some small comments here and there on my thoughts about things. I won’t try to keep any kind of schedule going or stay on a certain topic, but I have a few small things I would like to discuss with anyone who is willing. I hope you are all happy and blessed.

Sara

Words

God has given us the ability to use words. This is how He created, and it is how we can worship Him. Use your words to glorify Him! Write music, write poetry, write books, write blogs! Encourage others! Read Scripture! Pray!  Use the words God has blessed us with for the purpose that we were created for, to glorify God! 

Why History Is Important

Throughout the process of researching, reading, praying, organizing, and writing this history of the Bible for you, I have become more and more convinced of its importance. As I have said many times, it started when a friend of mine asked me a few haunting questions.

Where does the Bible come from? How can we trust it? Why should I believe in Jesus? How can I trust that what Christians say is real if it is based on a book? Can you prove anything in it?

Like I said, these questions have been haunting me. How many people have been turned away from God because Christians could not answer these questions? Too many! Some Christians have a certain arrogance that they know something that everyone else doesn’t know and think that everyone else that doesn’t agree with them is ignorant.

When they are asked those haunting questions, they respond with “the Bible says…” or “I believe…” Yes, it is great that we know what the Bible says, but no one else accepts our beloved Bible as fact! We HAVE to be able to give a record of how the Bible came to be. Let’s face it. If someone told you that they derive all of their beliefs from a book but couldn’t tell you who wrote it or where it came from, you wouldn’t believe them either.

Christians desperately need to be able to have intellectual conversations with non-Christians. We need to be well versed in history, science, and philosophy. You had better believe that non-Christians are. We should be able to give arguments for the existence of God that are not totally dependent on Scripture. We should be able to trace our Holy Scripture back to the very beginning, because they will ask, “Why should I trust you?”

So why should they trust us?

We, the Church, have a profound history. Our Scripture, the Bible, is literally called “The Book” for a reason. Thousands of years of work have gone into writing and preserving the Bible. We have archaeology to prove many, many events in the Old and New Testament. Our theology is based on sound philosophy. We have a faith that has survived through mass persecution and years of political turmoil. We have something worth learning about and worth sharing, if we can but answer the questions that the world throws our way.

 

This project has been trying for me. Many times I became very frustrated because I wasn’t getting my normal amount of views, and frankly, this wasn’t the most thrilling thing to read and write about. However, I do firmly believe that it is CRUCIAL that we know this. You may not think that having a basic understanding of how Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, English, and the rest have influenced the Bible, but it is very useful. The friend that asked me to write this thought that the Bible was found somewhere, because when she asked Christians questions about the Bible’s credibility, they became defensive instead of telling her what she needed to know. Please excuse my ranting for a moment. Sadly, I believe that Christians’ ignorance is the number one cause of people being turned away from the Church. Questions about the historicity of Scripture surface constantly. Instead of working to understand the proper meaning and context of Scripture in conversation with historical facts, Christians have closed themselves off to the intellectual world, claiming that their interpretation of Scripture is the truth.

Many “questionable” events in the Bible can be explained with archaeology and historical documents, but it may require some “out of the box” thinking to put together the pieces of the puzzle. For example, many scholars question the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt. There are several “models” of when it could have happened. The “conservative, biblical” view takes the late date of the Exodus, which uses biblical numbers from 1 Kings 6:1, which says that Solomon’s temple was built 480 years after the Exodus. Solomon was supposed to have assumed the throne in 961 BC, which would put the building of the Temple at 959-957 BC. If the number 480 is taken literally, the date of the Exodus would have been 1440 BC, which would be in the middle of the Hyksos period. The Exodus does not make sense in that time frame at all, and this is why people claim that there was no Exodus when talking to people who hold this view. However, there is another view that works in a historical context quite well. We know that the Canaanite conquest was in 1230 BC. Forty years earlier (because of the generation that had to stay in the wilderness) would be the date of the Exodus, 1270 BC. This works really well with what is happening in Egypt at the time. Exodus 12:40-41 says that the Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years, which would put Joseph in the reign of Ahmose I. Exodus 1:11 tells us that the Israelites were building stone cities for the pharaoh in PiRameses. In 1270, Rameses II was pharaoh and the city of Pithom or Rameses was the capital. The land of Goshen, which was the city where the Israelites lived, was Rameses. This was the only time that the city was called Rameses. There are documents that say the Egyptian police chased escaped slaves during the Ramecide period. The cities they went through on their journey to freedom match the biblical account of the Israelites’ journey to Canaan. Also, the Merneptah Stele claims that Merneptah defeated 4 things: Israel, Gezer, Ashkelon, and Minoam in 1220 BC. The stele makes it clear that Israel is a new settlement while the others are established “lands.” Archaeology of the “Hill Country” in 1220 BC shows that there was continual development of settlements until Israel was an established state.

So, you see. Sometimes the seemingly “biblical” interpretation does not work with history because numbers are often meant to be symbolic. When these symbolic numbers are taken literally, the event cannot be proven. This makes the Bible look like it is full of holes and unable to be trusted. I am not saying that we should not take Scripture literally. Much of it we can, but we should have wisdom in figuring out what to take literally and what to interpret as symbolic. Jewish literature is very symbolic. Certain numbers stand for certain things, like 40 years is one generation, when actually a whole generation could die out in 20 years. I would like to encourage all Christians to have wisdom before making claims that will turn non-Christians away if they don’t have all the facts. I know this can be hard to do. When I started college, I was convinced that I was right about absolutely everything, and my arrogance endangered other people’s views of Scripture.

Don’t be like me! We can use extra-biblical facts to validate Scripture. The Bible contains multiple genres and must be read in multiple ways. Be careful, and try not to jump to conclusions. We have a beautiful faith that has flourished throughout history. We should treat Scripture with respect and never read it out of context.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

I have enjoyed learning and hopefully teaching you all a few new things about the history of the Bible, but I am happy to be moving on to new things. I have big plans for future topics!

 

(My beliefs about the Exodus do not originate with me. I have studied both arguments, and this is the side I have chosen. Research it for yourself!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willpower and Toast

Read and share my fellow’s blog!

seeing through the stars

I think there’s a part of me that is still a little kid. He’s usually in control in the mornings, when I would rather stay in bed. But this morning the adult me managed to win, and I willed myself not only to get up, but to make French toast for breakfast rather than lazily making cereal.

The lesson of the morning is a metaphor: the rewards of doing the harder things are generally more than the rewards of the lazy thing. Taking the time to make French toast brings the reward of eating a sweet breakfast. Giving a lifetime to the work of Christ brings the infinitely sweeter reward of Heaven! French toast is a good start to the day, and following Christ is a good start to eternity!

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Life Lessons of a Christian Blogger

Hi, everyone! This is going to be another one of those personal posts. I hope you have enjoyed the Christmas season and have a prosperous New Year!

As many of you know, my first few posts were about theology. They were my attempt at doing theology for myself and by myself. I quickly realized just how dangerous it was, interpreting Scripture by myself.

I am recanting. Not my faith, but my pride. I was very foolish, and I apologize to you all. You see, I learn by writing. The natural side effect of reading is writing, and I read a lot. I learned so many things in the process, and I would like to share the most important one with you all.

When I began blogging in April, I wanted to make a splash with new exciting theology. I thought that I could somehow find something new in Scripture and share it with the masses. The problem is that “there is nothing new under the sun.” I was continuously frustrated because I could not come up with any new ideas. Some patristic writer already said it, and in searching for evidence for my claims, I found their ancient writings. This is comforting now, but I hated it then. I was torn between two thoughts: I could either find something new and risk being a heretic or I could agree with the Fathers and risk being a bore.

Now, I am a happy bore! A bore that has learned to listen to the interpretations of the earliest Christians instead of warping Scripture to fit my own needs. Lord, have mercy on me if I led anyone astray. I am so thankful that I learned this lesson early in life.

Please be careful when interpreting Scripture. Remember the long history of the Bible, and take into account that the Bible would not be in existence without the people who put it together. The Church didn’t create the Bible, and the Bible didn’t create the Church. “They grew up together.”

You may have heard of Sola Scriptura. It is the product of the Reformation (16th century) along with its partners, sola fide and sola gratia. For the first time in the history of the Church, people started interpreting Scripture for themselves. From looking at “scripture alone” (and of course their own life experiences and bias as a filter), they came up with many many new doctrines, most of them contradictory to one another and the historical interpretations. Sola fide and sola gratia are contradictory. Faith alone and Grace alone. Faith alone leads to a completely works based salvation that doesn’t involve much of God. Grace alone leads to predestination and election, which denies the role of faith. But salvation is “by grace through faith.” Removing one or the other creates serious issues. (A topic for another day.) Scripture alone does the same thing. By removing the trusted (and fought for) interpretation of the past, Holy Scripture is put in jeopardy. There must be a standard. I violated this standard, but now I have learned my place. I would much rather trust the word of the very first interpreters of Scripture, the apostles and church fathers. They knew the culture it was written to and they knew the philosophy it was in conversation with. I don’t need to find some new fantastical interpretation of Scripture! I am content to share the unchanging truths of Scripture.

Once again I caution you. If you are in a Bible study and five different people share five different interpretations of the same verse of Scripture, beware! I certainly don’t care what Scripture “means” to five different people. It MEANS something, and I don’t think true meanings are relative.

If you compromise one, you can compromise all.

Again, I am truly sorry. I pray you can forgive me.

In Christ’s love,

Sara