May 20, 2006

reply to seven star hand: on symbology

background: right after i posted an entry regarding the Da Vinci Code, i received a comment. both the original entry and the comment can originally be read here. what follows below is my (equally) lengthy reply.

(postscript may23: i cannot keep his words posted on this site in their original form. sorry. what about free speech and free choice, in presenting both sides? to be honest i'm not sure yet. but in the meantime i'm not going to keep his original complete statements and homepage link here because we're advocating two entirely opposing issues. i've included snippets of his statements in my replies, but that's about it, for now at least.)

hi, i read your comments and i browsed through your website.

first things first, i'm an evangelical Bible-believing Christian. it's a more accurate term than "Protestant", though i am a 'protester' as well. i was raised a Catholic in a strongly Catholic society, but obviously i'm not Catholic anymore. i do not agree with many central beliefs in the Roman Catholic faith, because of their inconsistencies with the Bible. i'm just saying this up front to let you know that i'm not entirely in agreement with what the Vatican has done in centuries past.


i do believe in the Bible as *literal* truth.

you said this:
"If the Bible represented the literal truth or even accurate history, there would be no need for faith in the assertions of deceptive and duplicitous clergy and their ilk."

we have to be clearer about what we're saying. to be fair to the Vatican, many doctrines are formulated for a deeper understanding of God and life. a student's guide, or Cliff's Notes. again there have been times when the dogmas were a little off, even completely un-Biblical, which was why the Protestant Reformation advocated a return to the basics -- belief in the Bible and the Bible only.

sadly, the name of God has been used (even until today) to justify completely ungodly actions like murder, rape, war. but to be fair this is true of many religions, not just Roman Catholic, not just Protestant. the problem is many people see the imperfections of the messenger and hold the Message (God's love) and the Sender (God Himself) guilty. is their deception? is there duplicity? yes, but it is not true for all.

you continued:
"Wisdom and faith are opposing concepts, because wisdom requires the unequivocal truth where faith obfuscates and opposes it. Religion is therefore the enemy of truth and wisdom."

and again:
"What then is the purpose of "faith" but to keep good people from seeking to understand truth and wisdom?"

i used to think that way too. yes, wisdom requires the truth, but when there are missing gaps then faith steps in. i once thought faith is stupid, blind, dumb. but if you are encountered by something real, whether it be God, another person, even the weather, you will know that it is real. "how will God speak to me today?" is not so much an ignorant question as "will my boss give me a raise?" or "will the storm hit our area?"

not only will head-on encounters make you realize that something is true. more importantly, you will, in one way or another, believe something about that real person/object/Being. "knowing God and how He has helped me through my past problems, He will help me through this one." is not so much a stupid statement as "knowing my boss, he will (not?) give me that raise." or "it seems that the storm is coming."

i learn some things, and base new conclusions (or reformulate old ones) based on what i have learned. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). it doesn't mean i'll follow everything everyone else is saying or doing --- i'll only go crazy because they don't all say and do the same things. but if i put my trust in something -- in Someone -- who in the past i have seen has shown Himself reliable, then my faith is well-placed.

religion does not have to be the enemy of truth and wisdom. the Bible is *revealed* Truth --- since we cannot grasp nor imagine God by ourselves, He reveals Himself to us. there are times we do not know *all* the answers (yet), but He will give us all the wisdom, the strength, and everything else that we need. i just mentioned in a previous blog entry that Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all that I have not seen." faith and truth/wisdom need not oppose each other: they can complement each other.

again, religion does not have to be the enemy of truth and wisdom. it just seems that way in many cultures because people just go through the motions of rituals and ceremonies without actually getting to know God. and religion focuses more on human effort -- you will go to heaven if you do this, if you don't do that.

but, Christianity is not a religion. it is the only faith that involves a Savior entirely different from myself. God is just, and my sins must be punished. i cannot save myself, i really need Him and His sinless body to be sacrificed as a substitute for my own. if i place my faith in HIM and in Him only, will i be able to stand holy and whole before God.

you wrote:
"All ancient religious, mystical, and wisdom texts have been shrouded in mystery for millennia for one primary reason: The ability to understand their widely evidenced symbology was lost in antiquity. How do we finally solve these ages-old mysteries? To recast an often-used political adage: It’s [the] symbology, stupid!...Every miracle purported for Jesus has multiple direct symbolic parallels in the Old Testament, Apocalypse, Dead Sea Scrolls, and other symbolic narratives and traditions. This is the secret held by the ancient Gnostics, Templars, and Cathars, which is presented with dramatic effect in the DaVinci Code. None of these narratives or stories were ever intended as the literal truth. That is a key fact to unraveling ages-old mysteries."

here are my questions:

1. if the ability to understand symbology was lost, then how come we should look at the symbology to understand how to look at the symbology? and, with all due respect, how can i trust what you say over someone else?

2. there is a problem with secret societies, codes, mysteries. (before anything else, i'd just like to say that i love mysteries.) when someone says they have an important, earth-shaking truth, but don't say what that truth is, then...what? is it only for the worthy? then what will the worthy do? continue protecting the secret, until when? the right time?
you said in your website that people must believe before it's too late. then why hide behind secrets and mysteries, behind code names and possibilities? if time is running out, shouldn't important secrets be unraveled immediately?
again, how will all these secrets affect the rest of us? if only a special few know the answers to a secret, then hide it behind even deeper will the rest benefit? is it not a bit unfair that the rest of the world is not good enough to learn the truth before important events like the end of the world or the second coming occur?

3. Jesus commands His followers to tell everyone of the Good News about God:
at the end of Matthew, at the end of Mark, at the start of Acts (three Bible books). why are gnostic Gospels so different, that there are special revelations given only to select people -- and stop there? is this the same Jesus? is this the same God who talks in different tones and situations, through both prophets and ordinary people, throughout the Bible?

4. if the Bible was not intended as literal truth, then what is?

finally, you ended with this:
"Seek to understand the symbolic significance of my name (Seven Star Hand) and you will have proof beyond disproof that Jews, Christians, and Muslims have long been duped by the great deceivers I warned humanity about over the millennia."

i don't want to be duped. but, what is your proof that you are genuine and that Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders are deceivers? again with all due respect, why should i believe you over them?

you say that religion obfuscates the unequivocal truth, the exact opposite of wisdom. and yet, you also say that the Bible and other religious writings are not intended to be taken literally. shouldn't proponents of the unequivocal truth tell the whole truth and nothing but? why hide behind all these secret symbology? do not these symbols obfuscate truth much more?

i don't mean to attack or offend, but only to discuss. thank you for taking the time to read and to comment, and i hope you're able to reply to this as well.

1 comment:

  1. Followers and religious leaders are all too human and are prone to make mistakes -- even heinous, deliberate sins. *I don't place my trust in them, but in the Bible that does not justify any sin*, whether trivial or monumental, whether done by leader or layman.

    You mentioned 2 Thessalonians 2:11. It says:
    "For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie..."

    For the sake of argument,

    #1. is it not possible that your statements are those that are delusive and lies?

    #2. if as you say the Bible is not intended to be quoted literally, then i don't need to mind the literal truth about the above verse.

    Speaking of lies and delusions, Matthew 24:23-27 says:
    "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect — if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.
    "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man."

    And then elaborating further in Matthew 24:28-33. Jesus' point is (in a literal reading of the Bible) that do not be easily swayed by the claims of anyone, because when He comes again in bodily form it will be much too obvious to leave room for any doubt.

    Furthermore, Jesus in John 10:14-15 says,
    "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father."

    You mentioned in your original comment the first part of Revelation 16:15:
    "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."

    Yes, be awake, be watchful. But included in this alertness is the discernment of truth in people's claims. Jesus will come again in bodily form when we least expect it -- *like* a thief *only* in that sense. But not exactly acting like a thief, who just steals, kills, and destroys.

    In the same chapter in John (10:1-10), Jesus talks about the Good Shepherd and those who are false:
    "'I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice.' Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
    "Therefore Jesus said again, 'I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'"

    Yes, again, it is tragic that the name of God has been used to justify --- WRONGLY --- criminal and completely ungodly, un-Biblical acts. But the presence of sinning followers and leaders is all the more reason to believe in a perfect, sinless, holy God. We are called to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). The standard is impossibly high, but we always put our trust in Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), and the Holy Spirit that guides us (John 14:26).

    And we *will* be glorified when Christ comes again. In the meantime, we must ever be watchful of false Christs and prophets, of those who simply claim, "I am He."