27 October, 2021

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Misusing The Bible

By Leonard Jayawardena

Leonard Jayawardena

Three references to the Bible (two direct quotations and an allusion) in two recent articles appearing in the Colombo Telegraph impelled this article.

The allusion came first and was seen in Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s article titled The New Opposition & The old Neoliberalism It opened with the following glorious blooper: “New wine cannot be put into old wineskins. And vice versa.” Dr. DJ’s “vice versa” is wrong, for old wine can be put into new wineskins, as explained below, though the political view that he intended to express through this (erroneous) inversion of Jesus’ parable of the new and old wineskins may have merit. To his credit, he at least did not claim to quote the Bible, though the allusion is clear.

The two direct quotations appeared in the article The Women at Gates of the Mahara Prison by Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka (SDeSJ), who is none other than Dr. DJ’s spouse. The first, Mattthew 25:39, taken from the account of the judgment of the sheep and goats, opens the article and has Jesus saying, “And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” The second, containing another saying of Jesus in the same context, closes the article and reads, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Mathew 25:45). In the article the scripture reference is erroneously given as 35:45 (!) but that is the lesser error. The greater error is pulling these sayings of Jesus out of their original context and applying them to rioting inmates in the Mahara prison.

I have no interest in commenting on the content of either article and am writing to draw to attention to these errors as examples of the misuse/abuse to which the Bible is constantly subjected, to discuss two other common examples of this kind, which many readers may have already encountered before, and to point out the moral lesson to be drawn from this.

To deal with the first blooper, here are the actual words of Jesus taken from Matthew’s Gospel (9:17):

Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will spill, and the wineskins will be ruined. Instead, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.

In Jesus’ day wine was put into clay jars to be stored or into botles made of sheep or goat skins (wineskins) if it was to be transported some distance. New wine was put into new wineskins as they were pliable enough to resist the pressure of the fermenting liquor. They would yield to the fermenting wine and not burst. But old wineskins, which had already been used and stretched out, could not be so used since they could not stretch again and would burst if filled with wine which was still in the process of fermenting (“new wine”). Grape must stops fermenting when the all of the sugar in the must has been converted into other chemicals by the yeast or when the alcohol content has reached a percentage that is toxic to the yeast (about 15%).

So new wine was not put into old wineskins for the reason stated above, but there was no physical reason against putting old wine into new wineskins since they would not burst! Therefore Dr. DJ’s “vice versa” is wrong! Old wine could be put into new wineskins but it would have been a waste of a new wineskin. By the way, wineskins are still used in some parts of the world.

It is beyond the scope of this article to enter into an exposition of the parable of the new and old wine skins in its biblical context.

The two sayings of Jesus quoted by SDeSJ, reproduced above, both occur in the Gospel according to Matthew in the scene of the eschatological judgement which was to take place at the coming of “the Son of Man” (a reference to Jesus himself). In this judgement, which is metaphorically described with figures drawn from the Old Testament and has no literal reality, all nations are gathered before him and the “sheep” are separated from the “goats” (Matthew 25:31-33), who represent the righteous and the unrighteous respectively. There is a third party featured in this scene of judgement, whose presence is implied by the words “one of the least of these my brothers” in Matthew 25:40 and “one of the least of these” in v. 45. The additional words “my brothers” in v. 40 show that this third party consists of Jesus’ disciples, who are his spiritual brethren. Though these words are omitted in v. 45, it is clear that the reference there, too, is to the same group of people, i.e., Jesus’ disciples. He tells the sheep that whenever they helped his disciples in the form of visiting them in prison and caring for them in other ways they did it to him because he was present in spirit in his disciples. Compare this with Acts 9:4, where, appearing in a vision, Jesus tells Saul (later and better known as the apostle Paul), “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” At that moment Paul was on the road to Damascus to arrest Christians in that city and his persecution of Jesus’ followers amounted to persecution of Jesus himself as he lived in them in spirit. Indeed the very definition of a Christian as per the New Testament is one who has the spirit of Christ.

As the New Testament reports, Jesus’ followers were constantly subjected to persecution on account of their faith, which included imprisonment. Those whom the “sheep” visited in prison were Christians who had been imprisoned for that reason (the referent of the demonstrative “these” in vv. 40 and 45). Therefore to apply these passages to rioting incarcerated criminals and remanded suspects, as SDeSJ has done, is to do violence to the biblical texts. It is interesting that SDeSJ skips right over v. 40, where the longer form “one of the least of these my brethren” occurs, and conveniently cites the shorter form in v. 45 (“one of the least of these”). SDeSJ is not alone in this error; some “scholarly” biblical exegetes, too, have fallen into it. In his commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries series), R.V. G. Tasker opines that Jesus can “refer to suffering men and women as His brethren” because he was able to feel “the sorrows and afflictions of the children of men as though they were His own” (p. 238, first edition). But by Jesus’ own definition his brothers (and sisters, mothers, etc.) are “those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21). Jesus and his disciples formed one spiritual family because they all had God as their spiritual Father.

A fuller exposition of the judgement of the sheep and goats in the Matthean passage, including the exact identity of the “sheep” and the “goats,” would take us beyond the scope of this article.

Now let us look at two other examples of notoriously misused biblical scriptures.

“Blessed are the peacemakers”

This is one of the Beatitudes delivered by Christ in his Sermon on the Mount and in its complete form reads, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 and para.). Those who misuse it always omit the second clause.

Its most eggregious misuse occurs when the Beatitude in its amputated form is used in praise of those who work to bring about “peace” agreements of a political nature between warring nations or other parties. It appears, for example, in the publications of the UN. Such peacemaking cannot be contemplated in this Beatitude. For one thing, this sort of peace agreements are reached when one or more of the warring sides decide the war is unwinnable, not because they assent to the principle that violence should not be resorted to in order to resolve conflicts. Jesus taught non-violence and pacifism in the same sermon. At the time Jesus uttered this Beatitude (early first century AD) there was peace (in the sense of absence of war) in the Roman empire (Pax Romana) and so that sort of peacemaking would have had little relevance for that time anyway. And Jesus certainly could not have had the Pax Romana itself in mind since that peace was achieved through the Roman military might. Furthermore, the “peacemakers” in view are deemed worthy of being called “the sons of God,” but we have seen that this appellative properly belongs only to Jesus’ disciples, which again argues against mere political peacemaking being contemplated in the Beatitude.

Is peacemaking in relationships between individuals a possible interpretation? Christians are exhorted to live peaceably with all men as far it depends on them (Romans 12:18). Jesus told his disciples to “have peace with one another” (Mark 9:50). Paul advised his fellow Christians likewise (1 Thessalonians 5:13). “Pursue peace with everyone” (Hebrews 12:14). Paul urged two female co-workers in the Philippian church to be reconciled to each other and so acted as “peacemaker” (Philippians 4:2). But this sort of living peacefully with one another and peacemaking, whatever its quality, is not unique to Christians, so peacemaking of this kind cannot justify the privilege of their being called “sons of God.” On the other hand, when non-Christians engage in peacemaking of this sort, they still do not qualify as “sons of God” by virtue of that alone.

By the above process of elimination as well as in the light of other biblical teachings touching on this subject, it can be concluded (indeed we are shut up to the interpretation) that the peacemaking envisaged in this Beatitude has as its goal peace of another kind, that which figures prominently in the New Testament: peace with God. In biblical teaching, sin has alienated man from God and put him in a state of hostility and rebellion against Him in a spiritual sense. Christ delivers sinners from their sins and reconciles them to God (the exact method need not concern us here), thus “making peace” between them (Colossians 1:20). This is the basic message of the Christian Gospel, for which reason it is also called “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Those who cease hostility (spiritually) and make peace with God are peacemakers. This peace begins at conversion, when they become “sons of God,” being imbued with His spirit (in a moral/ethical sense). Some of them, viz., the emissaries sent by God to preach this message of peace, will become peacemakers in the further sense of being “brokers” of peace between God and the recipients of their message (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20), though whether the term “peacemakers” in the Beatitude under discussion contemplated this secondary sense is uncertain.

“Thou shalt not kill”

This is one of the Ten Commandments given by Yahweh to the ancient people of Israel. It means, “Thou shalt not murder,” since that is the intent of the word in its context. The Hebrew word involved does not by itself mean “murder,” as some think, as in other passages of the Old Testament the same Hebrew word is used in contexts where no murder is intended or implied.

The misuse of this verse occurs when this is cited by opponents of capital punishment in the form “Thou shalt not kill,” since translated in that form and quoted in isolation the commandment affords plausible support for that position. But such misuse can only be attributed to mind-boggling ignorance of the Old Testament scriptures or disingenuity, for even a casual reading of the OT book of Exodus alone, in which this commandment first appears, will provide numerous instances in which the killing of humans is sanctioned or even commanded in certain circumstances, including murder.

As the readers are well aware, the issue of whether capital punishment should be re-implemented in this country crops up from time to time. The last time it happened, no less a person than a bishop of a certain denomination (I forget which) cited “Thou shalt not kill” as providing biblical authority for his opposition to it! If this clergyman was sincere, it is a testimony to the abysmal level of biblical illiteracy that prevails even among those who are expected to know better.

In a lighter vein, an animal rights activist opposed to animal slaughter once quoted this commandment to lend biblical authority to his/her position, little aware that in the Mosaic Code, which it forms part of, animal sacrifices constitute an integral part!

The moral lesson to be drawn from what has been said above is that those not in possession of a high level of biblical literacy should desist from quoting or in any sense referring to the Bible in public speech or writing because of the high likelihood of being wrong. Those who do so regardless do a disservice to it. It is enough that the Bible has been misinterpreted, misrepresented and suffered abuse over the centuries at the hands of even the supposed experts—the theologians and scholars—that it could do without further abuse by “laymen” who have no serious interest in the Bible and do not put in the necessary effort to be at least reasonably biblically literate.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    6

    Here we go again. Simple sentences that vaguely relate to those in a book called the Bible are taken up for protest. Does such innocent usage call for a crucifixion? Certain radical clergy come to mind. Lop off heads.

    • 7
      2

      Is it really necessary to write a long article on something which could have been resolved with a comment?

      • 2
        0

        Dear OC,

        It depends.

        If you are are a strong a christ, then of course you are hurt by the reactions of the violators, and then the reactions would come going by the size of the hurts. Likewise, we as buddhists, when PINGUTHTHARA community become parade decorations of Rajapakashe mafia politics or, when they interpret MAHAWANSA exclusively in favour them, we become very hurt, of course depending on our size of the beliefe.
        :
        So, the writer of this article should be a strong christ and he may have reacted that way.
        :
        Each receives that which accords with his being,

  • 16
    0

    Today we see the suppose to be the “most popular Prime Minister” with at least 100 armed personnel protecting him every where he goes. Is this popularity? Similarly the law applied to the Rajapakse Family members and the VVIP MPs and friends of theirs is different to other civilians are different.

    All these and more are done with the blessing of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith who is a Mahinda Fan. He campaigned for Mahinda indirectly soon after the Easter Attack. At times I wonder why the law abiding Catholics do not petition Pope to remove the Cardinal from his post.

    • 11
      2

      Buddhist

      Malcolm Rajith is a Sinhala racist he is not a god man but a charlatan a rabid anti- TAMIL RACIST WHO SHOULD BE THROWN OUT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

      • 1
        1

        Yes a Sinhala racist who hails from the north west coast that was until very recently Tamil. Also belongs to a community/caste that has a recent South Indian Tamil origin. The story of most the present so called Sinhalese

  • 10
    1

    Mr Jayawardena,

    Many popular quotes from the Bible, Shakespeare, the Rubaiyat English translation, Lincoln, Churchill etc have permeated the English and become incorporated as idioms. Examples: “Do unto others as you would they do unto you”, “To be or not to be”, “The moving finger writes”, “Govt of the people” and “We will fight on the beaches”.

    These and others are widely used as idioms and people are perfectly free to play around to get a point across since everybody who is familiar with the English tongue recognizes what the writer is doing.

    • 0
      3

      Certain expressions and idioms of the Bible have passed into the English language and enriched it, and I was NOT referring to that use. Examples are “the eleventh hour,” “feet of clay,” “at your/my/their wit’s end,” etc. The example you cited, “Do unto others as you would they do unto you,” so far as I know, is never used improperly in general use and probably incapable of being so used! It was somewhat remiss of me not to have qualified the opinion expressed in the last para. of my article with mention of this acceptable use of the Bible. The examples I have dealt with in the article do not fall into that category and I was criticizing that sort of use. The absurdity that resulted from Dr. DJ’s inversion of Jesus’ parable of new wine in old bottles illustrates the dangers that await those who “play around” even otherwise perfectly acceptable Bible-based idioms without possessing an adequate level of biblical literacy.

  • 11
    1

    The Bible is not a book. It was created by a Roman Emperor who wanted to be equal to the concept of one god. Emperor Constantine was god on earth. To do this, scriptures that were written over a passage of time were doctored, added to, and in some cases completely eliminated if it did not fit the Roman narrative. These additions and deletions have become obvious with the discovery of the Qumran (Dead Sea) scrolls and the Nag Hamadi codexes. In these documents earlier versions of the unaltered scriptures written prior to the creation of the Bible have been found. These discoveries for the most part are kept secret and are only known among the scholars who discovered these anomalies. For Example it was not the Jews who cruxsified Jesus. It was the Romans. This was the most brutal punishment reserved for traitors an terrorist guilty of plotting against the Empire. The Romans were a blood thirsty ruthless bunch of scoundrels whose brutality won them an empire.

  • 11
    1

    Therefore what is important is not quoting words from the bible to suit your own agenda. You cna pick just about any topic and find justification for it by hunting for passages supporting or opposing it in the Bible. The central massage of Jesus is equality and working for the common good not concentrating wealth in the hands of the few. He said it is as difficult as a camel trying to pass thru the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of god. Jesus in essance was a socialist and definitely not a capitalist. He moved among the poor. His desciples were poor fishermen. The entire Trump supporting evangelical Christian movement in the USA for example has totally gone off the rails. There is not room for extreme right wing ideology in Christianity or any other religion. Those that subvert a religion to suit there own pursuits are the true evil in this world.

    • 0
      3

      “Therefore what is important is not quoting words from the bible to suit your own agenda.”

      But that is exactly what you are guilty of when you say, “The central massage of Jesus is equality and working for the common good not concentrating wealth in the hands of the few.”

      For the true “central message” of Jesus read Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent [of sins] and believe in the gospel [of the kingdom (= reign) of God].” A detailed treatment of Jesus’ message is given in my (off-site) article “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God,” which you access at
      https://ochristianity.wordpress.com/2020/11/30/the-gospel-of-the-kingdom-of-god/

      Jesus believed in and preached giving charity and helping the poor, but he was not a socialist because he believed in voluntary giving, not state-compelled redistribution of wealth, which is what socialism entails. Compelled charity is not true charity. And a state taking money from the rich by force to give to the poor, as happens in socialism, amounts to theft, which Jesus would not have approved of!

      • 4
        0

        The time for belief in fable and myth is long past. We are in an era of rationality and science. Clones supposedly fathered by gods is about as farfetched as the cow jumping over the moon.

      • 5
        0

        Mr. LJ,

        “And a state taking money from the rich by force to give to the poor, as happens in socialism, amounts to theft, which Jesus would not have approved of!”

        Another person can say that is because the rich became rich by robbed ( overcharging, cheating, plundering, etc.) the common wealth in the first place. So any redistribution simply tries to restore to the country what the rich had stolen. A form of restitution after theft.

        • 2
          0

          Sorry, it should read as “robbing” not ‘robbed.”

          I see that there are many such typos in my recent posts.
          It is a sign I am getting old and my mind is becoming unfocused. But the gist of what I said should be clear.

    • 4
      0

      Thiha,
      “He said it is as difficult as a camel trying to pass thru the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into …..”
      Sadly, due to modern technology, this is no longer true. Using a food processor, it is possible to liquidise a camel and pass it through the eye of a needle, with a syringe. Takes a while, but it’s perfectly possible.

      • 0
        1

        I find it equally difficult to make Tamil political class understand that

        • 0
          0

          there is no conceivable solution to the Tamil ethnic problem which can satisfy political aspirations of at least 90% of Tamils in view of the existing demographic distribution.
          What do you propose to do?

          Soma

    • 0
      0

      Thiha, Jesus was not a socialist nor a capitalist. He believed in God the Father and believed in his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He taught the prayer “Our Father who art in heaven ” It is called theocracy, where God the Creator rules and reigns in his kingdom authority. Democracy is when people rule and reign and govern. Evil dictatorship is when one man grabs all the power and tries to dictate rule a nation. With evil connections worldwide influenced by the fallen Lucifer and his demons and serpents worshipped by some people as gods, the one world dictator will arise as an antichrist according to the bible. Then Christ in resurrection power will return and defeat and cast to hell, the demonic and bring in a reign of righteousness and peace. Bible is a prophetic book and everything written in it beforehand, has been fulfilled so far. The rest will happen irrespective of our belief.

      • 0
        1

        Dear davidthegood,
        .
        I may be a fool to be telling you what you will never accept.
        .
        There are many good things that you can learn from the Bible, and I’m sure that you are a good man.
        .
        But forget all the magic parts in the Bible. When we die, our brains will cease to exist. There never has been such a thing as a soul, as distinct from our minds – and mind is dependent on the brain, although not identical with it. Mind is a little more than brain, but without a living brain there will be no mind.
        .
        Now could you please study the evil things that the Anglican Church has been doing. Some of it has been put at the bottom of comments on Jeevan Hoole’s article:
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-anglican-church-annual-diocesan-council-a-jaffna-perspective/
        .
        As far as I’m concerned, the really bad part of the farcical elections was the cheating – with clerics playing a major role. Qualifications – I don’t care much about, provided that the people who are elected are truthful. I know that they will shock you more to learn, but most will still do nothing about it – or they will disbelieve me.

  • 1
    0

    Some thorny arguments to pull passerby’s cloth in the name of dry & idling religions.

    Arohara, Jeyaweva, Armen, Thathasthu!

  • 1
    3

    Another allusion to the Bible most commonly found on CT is:
    ” Thou shall not kill a terrorist, for that shall constitute a human rights violation”

    Soma

  • 1
    4

    Dear Mr Jayawardena,
    .
    old codger has very pertinently asked whether all this writing was necessary to make the little point that you have. As for what the Bible is, I immediately realised how correct Thiha’s observations are because we were at least taught something of that for “Divinity” almost sixty years ago before it became so easy to check:
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea_Scrolls
    .
    Unfortunately, even Wikipedia has not been able to pay sufficient tribute to the obviously decent, Muslim, Bedouin shepherds who discovered them. I think that you ought also to see what is said about the Council of Nicaea. I won’t check now. I believe that the Book of Revelations has no business to be in the Bible. I’d like your comments, please. However, more than that, please see what is said about Christianity in contemporary Sri Lanka:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-anglican-church-annual-diocesan-council-a-jaffna-perspective/

    • 1
      2

      “old codger has very pertinently asked whether all this writing was necessary to make the little point that you have.”

      It depends on what you mean by “little point.” My “little point” is that the Bible is constantly subjected to abuse by people with little or no knowledge of it when they quote or appeal to it to buttress various views not supported by it, and the purpose of my article was to point this out with examples, taking use of the opportunity provided by certain errors that appeared in two previous articles in CT, and to conclude with the moral lesson to be drawn from this. It is bad enough there is a divergence of views among even “scholars” on virtually every conceivable biblical topic without “laymen” adding to the confusion. I was not, of course, referring to the acceptable use of the Bible in form of expressions and idioms (e.g., “the eleventh hour”) which are derived from that book and have passed into every day language.

      Knowing Old Codger as I do, based on past experience, I seriously doubt whether his “little point” and my “little point” concur with each other.

      As for the rest of your comments, they are basically all “malle pol” stuff, some of which are not even clear, and if you want to engage in a discussion on these and any others you may have, you are welcome to contact me at my email address, which you will find given on my website https://ochristianity.wordpress.com/

      • 0
        2

        Thanks, Leonard,
        .
        I sent off the briefest of emails to you before I saw “leelagemalli’s” request.
        .
        What perturbs me is that religions tend to divide us from one another because of their eschatologies. None of them provable, I feel. I don’t hold that common syncretistic view that “all religions are the same”, but I wish we could be more generous to those who believe otherwise. Thus my reference to the Bedouin.
        .
        I am a layman, myself, but I try to be rational. I agree with you that even a layman must take the trouble to do some “finding out” before making assertions. No time? Don’t make strange-sounding assertions!

        • 4
          0

          SM,
          “As for the rest of your comments, they are basically all “malle pol” stuff, some of which are not even clear,”
          Don’t you think that the above is rather abrupt and un-Christlike for a devout Christian?

        • 0
          2

          Dear oc,
          .
          Years of dealing with the Thomian Establishment and with Education Ministry types has inured me to insults of any sort. I think that the places where I felt happiest were the Peradeniya University and the carefree Maldives.
          .
          Well, by brief email to Leonard, was followed by an even briefer “You’re welcome” from him, but then I followed up with a longish mail where I told him a lot about myself. Such telling usually evoke mystification from others – and it did.
          .
          He’s written back quite a bit about his interests in religion and given me access to a website in which the super-normal aspects of religion are dwelt upon.
          .
          Those are not much interest to me; my concern is what sort of world I leave behind to my progeny when I kick the bucket. Over-population is the Major World Problem in my view – so I’m glad that in our family we have if at all contracted our population – although I wish each was leaving somebody behind – they’re not (sigh!)
          .
          I’ve posted much already today:
          .
          https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-anglican-church-annual-diocesan-council-a-jaffna-perspective/comment-page-1/#comment-2372126
          .

        • 0
          2

          PART TWO
          .
          The comments on that article must cease some time tomorrow. I’ve been focussing on the contribution made by the Church towards Education – a field in which you must have excelled. Also Social Responsibility.
          .
          Leonard’s background appears to be Roman Catholic – like yours?
          .
          The trickier part has yet to come. It’s been easy enough recounting the past, but how do I see the future? I want to determine nothing myself, provided we are assured of genuine concern for the welfare of all. There’s been a great deal of favouritism in these schools, and some of the bluffing has been incredible. That is what is going to be most difficult to discuss.
          .
          I wrote to Bishop Dushy, a month asking him to take his time. He acknowledged my letter.
          .
          Your observations will be most welcome.

    • 3
      3

      Dear Sinhala Man,
      .
      Please provide me your e-MAIL add. I just wanted to send you some posts.
      :
      Thanks, please take good care of you.
      .
      LM

      • 0
        1

        I have explained what CT has quite rightly done to the response I made to LM’s request.
        .
        Please look towards the top of the comments on the article below. It is important that we act responsibly – please look at the explanation below the link.

        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-void-in-the-nations-heart/comment-page-1/#comment-2372264
        .

        I think that it is important for this to be understood. There are excellent articles on CT, and terrible comments. It grieves me to tell this to the very well-meaning leelagemalli.
        .
        CT obviously doesn’t want this site to be turned into Facebook, for gossip to be exchanged between individuals. I have there explained what has happened. Basically, since I’m logged in, CT is deliberately allowing me to see the comment wherewith I gave LM my e-mail address. Nobody else can see it.
        .
        If this brief explanation doesn’t suffice, please study comments 2 to 7 to understand that bit of drama. Actually it is comments 6 & 7 that provide the required information.
        .
        Far too many Sri Lankans smugly keep calling other Sri Lankans idiots! Those who don’t understand how a system works, have only themselves to blame!

  • 10
    0

    There cannot be anything more moronic than believing what is written in a book is God’s word. It’s the negation of God. True spiritual experience comes from one’s ability to perceive – in spite of all the visible chaos, violence and sorrow – the beauty of the deeply silent nature, the absolute mystery of the universe resonating in one’s heart. Please note I’m using the word ‘experience’ as opposed to faith or mere intellectual conviction. Only thing that is preventing such a spiritual communion is the kind of organized religion touted by the writer of this article. Come on … it’s time to grow out of childhood fairy tale beliefs in a personal creator God. There is no bigger blooper humanity should be ashamed of than this collective regression. In the meantime, the Bible should be treated just like any other book – a text produced by humans to navigate this apparently bewildering existence. The belief systems of conventional religions are in effect handbooks or manuals for social organization of humans for their survival. But in tragic irony this adaptive behaviour based on evolutionary psychology is the cause of much violence that is imperiling humanity today. Thus dogmatic finicking about texts is best avoided – otherwise we’ll be entering the territory of inquisition, Charlie Hebdo, fatwa and so on … …

  • 1
    1

    Ajay, Though LJ and DJ have said their piece, and your limited personal experience is not resonating with the personal creator God of the bible, I urge you to pray to Jesus personally while meditating on your own. Ask him to manifest and give you that personal encounter which is as real as my relating to you, wanting to love and bless you in his name. When you relate to him in intimacy, he comes to dwell in your inner spirit and flows through you out into the world in his nature of love and mercy, forgiving your karmic sins and freeing you to be one with him in spirit. The bible is inspired and written over a period of about 2000 years and by about 40 authors down the years telling one single story of how sinless Jesus would come and save those who believe he is able to do that. He did nothing more than what was already written in bible. Try it.

  • 3
    0

    davidthegood:

    That ‘experience’ I was referring to is not something personal. Transcending the personal is the crux of the matter. Something from outside must come in because as you correctly say our personal experience is limited. (I know for sure mine is.) That is precisely the point. The limited cannot define the limitless by writing stuff in books. Conventional religious beliefs and rituals are the biggest obstacles to transcending this bubble of personhood, this cage of ego, and let the timeless, infinite being come into us. What is written down in books and then spouted as holy scripture and sacred text is the handiwork of the very ego that need to be transcended.

    “There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious unity and integrity is wisdom, the mother of us all, “natura naturans.” There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fountain of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness, and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being.” – Thomas Merton

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      Ajay, When you write ” let the timeless infinite being come into us”, I agree with you 100%. The bible calls him the Holy Spirit, the triune Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That is how in Luke 1,35 the sinless son of God Jesus was conceived in the womb of an ordinary Jewish virgin Mary, so that Jesus could pay for the sins of the whole world in exchange pledge, and save all those who were ready to receive that pardon through their own free choice. It was not a natural conception of sperm and ovum, but a transfer of DNA of God in his image, as in the bible. God’s spirit in our spirit empowers us to overcome sin, and not allow demonic energy to negatively affect us with stealing, corruption and murder. Blessings to you.

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    [Contd from above]
    .
    I’m afraid the destructive competition between organized religions to capture minds and dominate the world has entered a very dangerous phase. In this ‘eleventh hour’ only negative theology can save humanity – in my humble opinion.
    .
    That which cannot be apprehended by the mind, but by which, they say, the mind is apprehended—That alone know as Brahman and not that which people here worship. – Kena Upanishad
    .
    Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know. – Tao Te Ching
    .
    Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation. – Rumi
    .
    What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence. – Wittgenstein
    .
    [you may say all the above are also from books. Very true. But then they’re using the same medium not to come up with some ‘truth’ of their own. In sharp contrast, they’re saying don’t predefine what you’re looking for; just wait until it comes to you.]
    .
    All good things are wild and free – Henry David Thoreau
    .
    Peace
    Ajay

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    Dear Ajay,
    .
    I agree absolutely with what you say.
    .
    However, let me also add this:
    .
    “davidthegood”, is one of the “best” religious people to be found anywhere! I’m sure that he is humble and gentle, and he has had these personal encounters with his God.
    .
    But the whole point is that it will always remain personal to him, so long as he is a sentient being. (I’m being rather mischievous when saying this next thing: whether other animals than homo sapiens also have encounters with their own gods, we will never know!)
    .
    When “davidthegood” ceases to be a living being (alas, we must all die!), his encounters with God will also cease. Sad, but true.

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      Sorry, substitute “Jesus” for “God” in what I have written above.
      .
      Careless of me to have not checked; what I wrote above thereby may have greater applicability, but it could well be that “david” ‘s most vivid experiences have been with a certain manifestation of Jesus that many Christians carry with them.
      .
      My own upbringing was Christian, and it may well be true for some persons that their Christianity makes them good human beings. Like Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole, who wrote this article:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-anglican-church-annual-diocesan-council-a-jaffna-perspective/
      .
      Comments can
      no longer be made on that article. Yesterday I made some searing criticisms of what has been happening in the schools run by the Anglican Church in Sri Lanka. Please see.
      .
      I have requested that any queries on what I have stated there, be posted here since relevancy will remain.
      .
      Ajay and I may be agnostic, even atheistic, but we recognise the good that the Hoole brothers have done in the public affairs of Sri Lanka. If the impetus for that was provided by a religion, it proves that religions can inspire what is good.
      .
      What says you, Ajay?

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      SMan, Thank you for appreciating my encounter with Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Latter is completely merged with my spirit. In life or death, I am in union and can never be separated and go into a different eternity in God called paradise which Jesus promised to the believing thief crucified with him. The bible says we were breathed into by God at creation and then life perpetuated by parents. So that life of breath of God has to go back to the creator and is offered to all humans in his image. Animals were created and named differently and have no soul, but the human soul cannot be destroyed. There are 2 destinies for it depending on whether karmic sin is pardoned or not, as God will not dwell with sin and cast out Lucifer to become evil satan. I do not wish anyone to be away from God and near satan eternally. So please turn to truth, righteousness and justice decree of God.

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    I think that all regular readers of CT know me as the “gambada(ingireesi)iskolemahatthaya” – a lowly wretch who has no business hobnobbing with you elite guys.
    .
    Some of you may already have seen what I have posted below Jeevan Hoole’s article. Now Jeevan is as much of a religious nut as the most pious of you. However, some of you will explain away, and tolerate the evil that you are shown clearly. You may for instance pretend not to see it.
    .
    Jeevan will not tolerate the evil that he sees, whether it be in Church or State. If that be the criterion for judging, he is the greatest among us. Yes, I’m using superlatives.
    .
    Now, for what you can read in my articles, and the comments. I know that those who say that they have no time, have a good case, because it’ll take hours. What do you say to this? The veracity of what I have said has not been challenged by the two priests, the Bishop, or one dead Headmaster (Rev. Christopher Balraj, Ven. Philip Nesakumar, Rt Rev. Dhiloraj Canagasabey, and L.A.M. Chandrasekera). How come that they have not taken me to law courts?

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    PART TWO
    .
    Surely they can see all this? If you are not satisfied with that, let me tell you that I have the personal e-mail addresses of all three of the fellows who are living. Do you wish me to send them the links to this article? I could send them off in the presence of a lawyer or a Justice of the Peace. I suppose it’ll be possible for me to get it certified and have the scanned document displayed here.
    .
    Of course, there also are the guys whom they cheated on to the Board of Governors. There is a certain reason why I’m not putting their names on right now, but careful readers will be able to ferret them out.
    .
    And here’s what will shock most you – but not so much me. One fellow has not passed his O. Levels. No, it’s even worse: he has not sat his O. Levels. Still worse: he has studied only up to Grade Eight. Got it? Three statements. If the last is true, then the other two must necessarily be true.

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    PART THREE
    .
    Now let me see what the reaction of those among you who gleefully exclaim that fifty – or is it sixty? – Members of Parliament haven’t got their O. Levels. Remember that these guys can take me to courts for libel. I will write my name and NIC number below the last part of this comment. If you go to comments on the Hoole article, you will be able to see my photographs.
    .
    I know that what I write here will not cause an earthquake throughout Sri Lanka, but it ought to cause quakes beneath the four Colleges of S. Thomas. If it doesn’t, remember that it is the fault of you who read this, and do nothing.
    .
    And do not imagine that saying that you have never set foot in these schools exculpates you. These are part of the government-recognised Education System of Sri Lanka. If you are citizens of Sri Lanka, you should be concerned.

    Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 48 3111 444V) aka “Sinhala_Man”

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