Poker players are a rare breed, rough and tumble throwbacks from the old Wild West and Mississippi riverboats. ...
'Cause, son, I made a livin' Outta readin' people's faces, And knowin' what the cards they held By the way they held their hands. Kenny Rogers, "The Gambler"
There is an intuitiveness to poker that reminds me of the gift of the word of knowledge: "... readin' people's faces,/And knowin' what the cards they held/By the way they held their eyes.
" He says, "Son, if you don't mind me sayin',/I can see you're outta aces./For a taste of your whiskey,/I'll give you some advice." According to church seminar material on spiritual gifts, the "word of knowledge" is used to give information to church leadership to help them make decisions, when they're "outta aces," I suppose.
It was back in the 70's I went to a seminar series at the Baptist church across the street from my house where they helped us recognize what our spiritual gift(s) were. I figured mine was the word of knowledge with a little bit of helps thrown in. A quarter of a century later at my present church's seminar, I don't recognize it as any different except my gift has grown more mature. And as "knowledge puffeth up," I can see how it's a good idea the Spirit not giving me additional gifts besides lending a hand sometimes in someone else's work. Nothing I can be proud of.
Anyway, there is this intuitive aspect to such a gift which helps to cover for the cessation of prophecy in the church—at least from what it once was in church history. Let me illustrate: In trying to remember names I once called "Larry" by "Frank" by mistake. He said that was okay because his father always called him Frank. So now I will call him either Larry or Frank depending on what mood I am in.
A prophet in the old sense might have told him his name with the hidden meaning his father had given him. He would have had a revelation and shared it with him. If it came from God, it would be accurate. Me, I just kind of bumbled into it, and unless Larry had told me, I wouldn't have a clue.
Now, a teacher on the other hand would have a well organized mind, a memory for a lot of names—as he would be calling on them in class. He wouldn't have a clue about his pupils' hidden names; he is a teacher after all, not a prophet. And forgetting a name would be an outright error. Me, I would know some names, but not others, and in bumbling around I could stumble on a hidden name. (I've done this more than once; I'm not making it up.)
So as far as my gift goes, I would make a lousy teacher and a dismal prophet, but the word of knowledge has its own place in the church. In a time when the ministry of the prophet has been curtailed from what it was at one time, the guy with a bit of intuition might be a godsend when we get to fuzzy places in our study of the canon.
Another reason for the difficulty in understanding the epistles lies in the fact that the author on the whole presents his material, as in Galatians, II Corinthians, and Colossians, in positive, sharply formulated, contrasted points of view, claims and counter-claims. What these are may occasionally be discerned in the form of allusions, but not with sufficient frequency and often without sufficient clearness, in most cases without verbally and precisely reproducing the positions which he is attacking. We can therefore neither discern his opponents' attitude nor entirely understand the author's opposition to it. But what does this imply? Not, in any case, that the first readers could not understand them either. On the contrary, they must have seen the precise meaning of the allusions, the answers, the cut and thrust as it were, otherwise all this writing would have been just a sorry fencing with shadows. The occasional character of these writings becomes apparent from these observations; they were struck out on the spur of the moment, they had their origin in quite definite historical situations, they were anything but 'literature' meant for the future and for general publication or essays with a universal appeal. Hence, it is really letters that lie before us, written in reply to letters from churches (I Cor. 7:1).
The teacher does well with "'literature' meant for the future and for general publication or essays and commentary with a universal appeal" which some epistles are anything but. If we are missing the other side of letters written for the occasion, we no longer have prophets to fill us in. In that case intuition becomes valuable.
Looking at Weiss:
Here in the section II Cor. 6:14-7:1 in rigorous fashion a thorough breach with heathenism is demanded. At the same time it is so clearly stated that it is heathenism itself with which Christians should have nothing more to do, that Paul could scarcely have interpreted this letter as is done in I Cor. 5:11, viz. that he had only required a break with Christian brethren who act in this way.244
Neither Weiss nor I want to use the "unequally yoked" passage to countermand what Paul allows—worldwise liaisons, mixed marriages—in First Corinthians.
I make the point that the equally yoked marriage relationship epitomized by Aquila and Priscilla gets no mention in Paul's reply to marriage questions, only in the salutations at the end on I Corinthians. He makes no commentary on their marriage as such. That's consistent with Weiss:
If "in them the Apostle gained true and valuable friends," and "all
the churches of the Gentiles are under obligation to them," why did
Paul not use them as an example of marriage, if equally yoked marriages
are the end-all in Christianity? He mentioned Crispus as an example
of baptism (I Cor. 1:14).
Why no commentary on Priscilla and Aquila's marriage?
As for the widow, Paul would ordinarily caution us concerning her per, (I Tim. 5:11-12) "But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith." If Paul is of the mind that "when they [widows] have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith," then naturally, when he tells a widow that she may marry again whomever she pleases, his saying "only in the Lord" has no more import than "only in their first faith," meaning not wantonly against Christ. At least since his "only in the Lord" statement is given only to widows, that is how we must take it if we don't want to go beyond the scripture.
It might be really helpful to look at what Paul replied to the Corinthians regarding mixed marriage and instead of trying to be a teacher examining the Corinthian letters as if they were a treatise to be expounded upon—making haphazard connections that are hard to justify—, employ some enlightened intuition as to what the questions could have been he was responding to, since we no longer have prophets to tell us. We'd start by looking at a triad.
Triads are prevalent throughout the Bible, e.g. (Judges 20:10) "And we will take ten men of an hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and an hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to fetch victual for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel." (Matt. 1:17) " So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations." And then we would take the triads from 1st Corinthians 7 that we are studying, with the parallel structure Paul uses.
(1 Cor. 7:17) "|But |as God hath distributed to every man, | |as the Lord hath called every one, | |so let him walk. And | |so ordain I in all churches." (I Cor. 7:18-24) | |"Is any man called | | being circumcised? | | |let him not become | | | uncircumcised. | |Is any called | | |in uncircum- | | |cision? |let him not be | | |circumcised. | |Circumcision is nothing, and | |uncircumcision is nothing, but | |the keeping of the commandments | of God. [is something] | Let every man abide in the same calling | wherein he was called. |Art thou called being a servant? | | care not for it: | |but if thou mayest be made free, | | use it rather. | |For he that is called | | in the Lord, being a servant, | | is the Lord's freeman: | |likewise also he that is called, | being free, is Christ's servant. | Ye are bought with a price; | be not ye the servants of men. | Brethren, let every man, wherein he is | called, therein abide with God."
The major triad here ties the marital state, the penis state, and
the bondage state all together, Paul advocating one's status quo in
all three cases. So, first we take a metaphor which is also a triad.
In the sixties of Ferray's youth, Haiti was so poor that its largest export was, literally, the blood of its people. Every day hundreds of poor Haitians would line up outside the clinic hoping for a chance to stretch out on a wooden plank and watch a pint of their life drain from their undernourished black arms into clear American jars. When the jars were full, the grateful donors would each receive a white Band-Aid and enough money to keep him in scraps until he was strong enough to come stand in the line again. ...
Now, first of all blood. What is that a metaphor for?
Let's let the poor return for Haitian blood represent interference with the believer's life whereby he doesn't gain adequate recompense for the trouble he has been caused.
Now let's look at marriage.
Okay, so here we have extended discussions, and presumably some bargaining over marital arrangements. Undoubtedly among the Corinthians there were some who had questions of whether they should maintain the good deal that their parents had arranged for them or "decline a particular partner" for not being Christian. Paul after answering (in the positive) another question regarding the sanctity of marriage can be expected to answer this question too, before he goes on to talk about whether virgins should start such negotiations. He'd have to satisfy them in this as a "cohesive sense of the group was essential to a successful" church.
In answer to such a question, and within their cultural framework, Paul's answer makes perfect sense. (1 Cor. 7:17) "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches." The distribution of wealth and calling within families was the life blood of marital selection.
We do have one fine example of a couple in the Bible planning to marry, where one member receives Christ and the man is told to remain in his calling as his intended's future husband with what God has distributed. (Matt. 1:18-25) "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS."
Take another Jewish couple, let the man be the one who receives Christ and Paul be the angel telling him to remain as he has been called and distributed to, and you can readily see the application where he does not put her away privily but proceeds to marry her. The new sister in Christ from Singapore who came to me with her complaint that her fellowship had forced her to break up with her nonchristian fiancé had been engaged to him for nine years. I can't really see all that much difference between her situation and that of Joseph when one of them accepted Christ. The holy child in Mary's womb would sanctify her marriage to Joseph, so of course the espoused man could take her to wife. Paul's clear teaching that the offspring of a mixed marriage being holy means that the marriage itself is holy means that the espoused mixed couple may proceed to wed.
So say keeping one's availability for marriage intact according to family place and economics is a metaphor for a Haitian keeping his blood in his veins. If we want his blood we should recompense him for it, he being poor. If a good family member has become Christian and we want him to change his plans and marry only another Christian, that new intended should be beneficial to him.
Say, Joe would be the best match for Alice except that he has a drinking problem, so we are thinking of marrying her off to someone else. Then Alice becomes a Christian and suddenly marrying a Christian is made a priority. Then Joe converts and gives up drink. We marry them and they live happily ever after. That's like a Haitian getting top dollar for his blood.
But as many are called but few chosen, we are likely to have a diminished pool to choose from if we must pick a Christian (chosen) as opposed to the larger pool of the merely called that we witness to by our lives—especially if they marry one of us.
Say, it is real important to marry sister off within the family. She has a number of eligible cousins, so no problem. Then she becomes a Christian and she is told that she must marry only a Christian. Well, the only Christian in the family is a fourth cousin who is not even a good match and has no money. Such a union is barely acceptable within the calling of her family and is the pits for distribution of wealth. To promote such a union is like giving the malnourished Haitian barely enough payment for his blood to last until next time.
Our culture with respect to marriage and courtship has undergone profound changes since Bible times which we need to factor in when trying to apply the teaching of Paul.
The individualism that has been so devoutly upheld as the basic principle of American economic life has extended to marriage. Marriage is primarily an individual matter, largely devoid of any broader social implications. Like so many other aspects of American culture, this situation may be explained in part by the continuous and pervasive influence of the frontier.
In our culture we may continue mixed dating if that is what we were
doing when called.
Now for the second part of the triad: circumcision.
Okay, we are all familiar with that controversy. It somewhat pains me to follow it through to the end. The Corinthians were a factious, divided church. When the controversy hit them, the Jewish Christians were bound to tell the Gentile Christians to get circumcised. The Gentiles at such a factious church would necessarily retaliate by telling the Jews circumcision was a thing of the past, we are not going to slice our foreskins, it is you who should go get the operation to become uncircumcised. Yes, they were so divided.
The subject of this chapter (7) is marriage and its relatives—celibacy, divorce, widowhood, courtship, virginity, etc. The understood question at this point is what to do about relations with the opposite sex that one has some investment in that could lead to marriage with the unsaved. The advice is "as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches." Paul draws parallels to the investment one has in his denomination—-circumcision vs. uncircumcision—, and in his occupation—slave vs. free—, where in both those cases also "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called ... let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."
As for becoming circumcised or uncircumcised, those would be very painful experiences for an adult male. Look what happened to Shechem's tribe in Genesis. When they got circumcised, they were slaughtered out of weakness. Reversing circumcision is even more painful. Not seeing it described in the Bible, I quote a secular source:
"What are you trying to say?"
I once knew a recent convert who was forced by the ministry she attended
to break up with her fiancé of nine years. Of course that
traumatized her. As the song says, "Breaking up is hard to do."
Paul has ordained in all the churches that we do not have to break
up with our unsaved boyfriends and girlfriends upon our own conversions
but may abide as we are called. The important issue is not
circumcision/uncircumcision or whether one is going with a Christian
or not. "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing,
but the keeping of the commandments of God."
But the women weren't going to be a calm sea of tranquility amidst the debate. They weren't going to stomach having their men cut up in their privates one way or the other. We have one good example of marital strife over circumcision.
Here the conflict over circumcision which was between Moses and his
father-in-law spilled over to his marital relations and he ended up
sending her away. She was squeamish over it.
This is a painful subject, to take circumcision down to the level of the Corinthian debate. Their bickering over whose leader was best must have descended to the level of, "Mine is bigger that yours," or to be precise, on whether to circumcise or uncircumcise their "yardsticks" for some perceived superiority. Somehow that affected the squeamish women among them (witness Zipporah and Moses) and ultimately their marriageability.
If we take the circumcision question too theologically here, we might miss the question to Paul, should we circumcise ourselves or go through the process of uncircumcision, the women being up in arms either way?
When Paul ironically calls them 'ministers of righteousness,' we can discern the whole system of legal religion as the basis of their program. To be sure, it is certain that they did not put forward the demand for circumcision, for the way in which Paul speaks in I Cor. 7:18 of the possibility that a Christian might let himself be circumcised, shows that this matter was not a subject of serious controversy at Corinth. He could not have spoken of it so quietly and incidentally if it had still been a question which threatened the very foundation of his Gospel. So, too, the question of the imposition of the rest of the Law is nowhere raised, not even in the discussion of meat offered to idols. Furthermore, it can hardly be assumed that far-reaching legal demands could still be made on the Gentile Christians in the name of Peter, after he had yielded to Paul at Jerusalem on the question of freedom from circumcision and later on had rejected the extreme Judaistic requirements.
Paul's only reply could be (I Cor. 7:18-20) "Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." You would think that circumcision had nothing to do with marriage until you read about Zipporah—and then even the experts puzzle over that—unless they read a bit of the book of Jasher. But then you'd also think like the politicians, that bringing tourism into Haiti would not affect the demand for their blood. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The tourists introduced AIDS to Haitian prostitutes and that contaminated the blood supply and terminated the market for it. If being a Christian man means he has to mutilate his penis, he might find himself unwanted as a mate by the squeamish women in Corinth.
A modern application that I have made is that if one is forced to go through the trauma of breaking up with an intended, he might find himself emotionally unprepared to enter serious relations with someone else, even a Christian. A broken spirit and a bloody penis are both unattractive.
For the third part of the triad, about servitude, let's see if we can't figure out the question Paul was addressing.
A maid converting to Christianity and finding herself still in bondage to her master—bearing his children for him—might start comparing herself to a Christian freewoman and have some questions for Paul. A manservant might have some questions too.
(Exodus 21:1-6) "Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever."
Okay, say I am a Hebrew servant of another Hebrew. After two or three years of work he provides me with a wife who gives me a child or two. After six years my servitude will be complete and I may go free in the seventh, but the wife and child are to remain with my master. However, I have the option of making myself his bondservant forever, in which case I stay with my wife.
During my time of servitude I convert to Christianity. I have all kinds of family values. I also have some questions. Do I remain a bondservant forever in order to stay with my wife and children or do I accept my freedom after six years? You know, it would be really handy to have an apostle to ask my question to.
(I Cor. 7:21-24) "Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."
Of course, he is addressing just such questions, because how else could using the opportunity for freedom, otherwise to remain in one's calling be anything except Hebrew-Hebrew servitude where one normally is freed (sans wife the master provided) in the seventh year?
Paul in general treats the church as entirely Gentile (I Cor. 12:2), only occasionally (7:18) considering the Jewish minority which certainly existed. It was quite predominately composed of the dregs of the population, the lower elements which were without culture and social importance; slaves and laborers were in the vast majority; it was in fact the kind of population one would expect in a sea-port town.
Paul occasionally considered the Jewish minority which certainly existed, and the population was composed mostly of slaves and laborers. So what would becoming a Christian mean to a Hebrew servant, who had a wife provided by his Hebrew master, and who in the course of things would be set free in the seventh year, leaving behind his wife and children with his master, unless he at that time made himself a bondservant forever in which case he would remain with master and family? How could that question not have come up with the other marriage-related ones?
I am not saying my own commentary here applying the scriptural remaining in one's calling as being free in the seventh year because God has liberated us for him is the most direct one we could find, but it does have relevance: that just as God's grace can operate in two different ways for free and bond, so can it operate in two different ways for both mixed and unmixed marriages, and just as being Christ's freeman takes precedence over the supposed many objections of the brethren regarding the servant wife he has left behind, so the liberty of mixed dating and/or mixed marriage takes precedence over the vocal objections of the brethren.
The NIV by treating Paul's letters as some treatise that he wrote for the general public, mixes up some concepts that were not written to go together, and so the translators rewrite the expected requirement that a widow not marry wantonly against Christ to say something Paul never intended, but it goes along with the thinking of the more than nine out of ten Christian thinkers who get it wrong anyway. In the middle of this the NIV completely reworks the concept of virgin marriages to statements addressing modern situations. Thus the NIV's teaching on marriage matters is in large part worthless, and since recognizing an authority in spiritual matters would mean I had agreed that the NIV rules well in family matters, I must reject it spiritually as well.
Now, picture the reaction of my fellow Christians when I have been meeting with them a few years, they know my wife and children, and they know my master. Come the seventh year, I leave my position as servant, and my wife and child stay behind. I am a single brother again.
You think the brethren will just say, That's nice? No way! They will be up in arms telling me I can't do that. They will be quoting the Bible, quoting church fathers, quoting "experts," quoting their pastor. I would be snubbed and publicly ridiculed.
Or maybe not, if they understood the custom, but today I would be. It would be like the yankees reinstalling the president of Haiti, so would the brethren be up in arms. But his people and his church did not want him. Well, the servant doesn't want to stay in bondage and God says he may be free, so who are we to deny him that? See Jeremiah 34 for an example of Israelites trying to return properly freed servants to bondage. God didn't like it!
I'd like to say this situation doesn't apply today, but you'd be surprised. All I am applying it to here is the way Christians get totally up in arms about a Christian who does mixed dating or mixed marriage. Man, they come at him from every side and will completely overwhelm a new convert who doesn't understand the scriptures or his marvelous freedom in Christ.
The two passages they will use, about marrying only in the Lord and not being unequally yoked, do not justify their forcing a new convert to break up with his intended or stop mixed dating. Instead, to force them to break off their current relations with the opposite sex could hurt them, hurt them to the point of suicidal depression. That is why I refuse to give credence to the NIV as being a form of God's holy word, because to do so would be to contribute to its effect when Christians quote it as an authority to break people out of their callings, where it mistranslates Paul to have him against entering mixed marriages.
To remain in one's calling means not making a play to leave it; it means to "know when to fold 'em," as the most intelligent men in town would wisely do all around the table.
Let's take knowing when to fold 'em back to its scriptural form, (Prov. 30:29-31) "There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: ... and a king, against whom there is no rising up." There is no rising up because he knows when to give in to his subjects. The enemy is at the gate of his castle, and the king will not be able to withstand him forever. If he surrenders, he has spared bloodshed, and this he must do if the situation actually calls for it, in which case it will "go well, yea, [be] comely in going."
Four Years Earlier ...
Okay, that does not seem to be an auspicious start to a marriage,
those four years ago, so let us see how it turned out.
I would think there is a lesson in there. In the story of fiction the Druidic curse, strengthened by the witches, is very powerful and lasts indefinitely even if people don't believe it and even if they don't even understand it. Well, in the tradition of contrasting comparisons, we may say that what the Apostle Paul ordained in all churches, (1 Cor. 7:17) "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches."is the word of God, strengthened by the prophets who back then could explain its full import, which is definitely more powerful than any Druidic curse we could imagine. Even if we don't understand it all, and even if some don't believe it, this what has Paul ordained in all churches is still in effect. We don't have to emotionally traumatize the new convert by forcing him to break up with his intended or whatever; just as the lord of the manor could lower the drawbridge and trust in the curse to protect him, so we remain in our callings and trust in the word of God.
Okay, let's take another example of knowing when to fold 'em. I sometimes go to some free church sponsored meals around town. Last Thursday I was eating my dinner at a table with a couple vegetarian girls, real peaceful types, don't believe in corporal punishment for children. Suddenly at a table across form ours a man hit a woman. The church leaders who were singing on stage said some words to him, another fellow had some choice words, some blows were thrown, the leaders escorted him off the premises, while the vegetarians got up and went to the far side of the room to avoid the fight. When they returned they heaped praise on me for my wise course of action.
Did I tell off the fellow? No. Well, did I help escort him off the premises? No, didn't do that either. Did I scoot away from the area? No. Well, what did I do? Why I was busy masticating my food. Didn't bat an eyebrow. Knew when to fold 'em. Didn't get involved.
Way I saw, it the guy was not especially big, but the girl is nicknamed Amazon, for a reason. She is bigger than the biggest guy in the place. If a guy wants to start hitting women, he might make an easier selection. Furthermore, he explained, and she confirmed, right away, that he was her brother. Ah, it was some kind of family thing. And he was leaving right away, and she was acting docilely chastised—a big change from her usual snotty demeanor, even to me on one occasion. I was impressed with her good spirit all of a sudden.
The two leaders stopped their gospel song to say, "Not in here!" Well, it was just a family thing and he was leaving anyway, and what about the girl's snotty attitude she has in here which was being corrected? At any rate, their remark only drew attention to the situation and one of the regular drunks seeing it chose some ill considered remarks which netted him a couple slaps before the guy continued his exit. The two men from the stage jumped down to escort him, and the two women at my table got up to avoid the fight.
What fight? There was no fight other than the one everyone else was creating. Even getting up and away from the area helped define it as a fight in the cleared space. My best response was just to stay seated and chew my food. I was the hero.
The uprising doesn't make the king look good. If the two men had simply continued playing their guitars and singing, it would have been a situation going well.
Likewise, to eliminate the men's TLC group after I had something going down with the publisher of the book we were studying (same publisher for the NIV) only helped define an incident where the comely response is not to bat an eyelash. He was her brother. Sometimes brothers do that, and there might be a reason. At any rate she was bigger, and me taking on Zondervan is reminiscent of David and Goliath, a challenge for even a prophet, and all I have is the word of knowledge, and in this case the goods on them.
Okay, let's try an example of a policeman who does well to not enforce the law he sees someone breaking. In my library book a policeman is after a serial killer. One of the victims whom the bad man drugs as a perverse ritual gets brought paralyzed to the hospital by the perpetrator. The cop wonders why the man passed by two closer hospitals to bring her to this one. He discovers by looking at the sample of her blood taken on arrival which contained the same sedative that the anesthesiologist used on her later which would have masked the earlier dosage, that he might be the criminal. It was someone with medical knowledge, and it turns out that he didn't have a good alibi for any of the murders. That plus a lot of circumstantial evidence convinces him, but he has nothing solid and must drop it.
Then one night the vegetable girl, who can communicate only by blinking her eyes at letters on a chart, remembers something the perp said just before she went under and she starts to spell it out for the cop. She gets to SLEEPYHE... when the cop rushes out of the room. He has remembered that a previous year when he had his ulcer operation, the same anesthesiologist had said, "Goodnight sleepyhead" just before he went under. He knew he was right and dashes off to make the arrest.
Well, it turns out that it was the anesthesiologist's son—who'd had a couple years of pre-med—who was the bad guy, and who had been leaving clues to try to implicate his father, as he knew when his father wouldn't have an alibi and also various other circumstantial evidence, and he looked enough like his father to fool the eyewitnesses, and he drove the same car as his dad, in fact his dad's old car. His father used to say the thing about sleepyhead at bedtime, and he had picked it up. Anyway, the cop doesn't know all this, but as he arrives to arrest the old man, the son is staging a kidnap at his father's door to implicate him, and the cop spots him and takes off in hot pursuit, only he doesn't have his radio with him.
The beat and the speed increasing and rain lashing the windshield, and Thorne's hands on the wheel guided solely by the movements of the two red lights ahead of him. His eyes fixed on those two red lights, which flash as the Volvo brakes suddenly, like the eyes of some sleek, dark monster, which roars and is away from him quickly as the Volvo jumps traffic lights and he has no choice but to do the same.
I seem to have stumbled over ancient animosities, the kind where prophet
is pitted against teacher and I happen to be using an intuitive approach.
At any rate, I cannot convict Zondervan on a hunch, but at the men's
TLC group I caught the publisher
in a real fault—against Walt Disney—and I was after them. The excellent
response from the traffic cop was to tell him to carry on, and likewise
from my church where in fact the preacher had early written to me
saying this church was my church which I could use to fulfill my needs,
here I needed but a local church to witness my complaint
after the two (men's TLC) witnesses
per Matt. 18, and the grass-roots
church being the main witness of which we're just a part.
That was not problematic—save for the overreaction of closing down a TLC group. It is the second part that concerns me somewhat, that he needed backup. I had asked my preacher to use the old versions in the traditional service, but he felt it best to keep mostly with the NIV. Fine, but I still cannot in good conscience treat it as God's word.
So what happens is I've been trying to help a new convert get settled into good Christian habits, visiting him from time to time at his home, explaining how to read the Bible a little bit every day, starting in the gospels. Just basic stuff. He has only ever read the King James Version all his life, and it is the only Bible he understands, so he has told me, which is fine with me, and he's had me toss out a lot of Bibles people have given him which he doesn't want, from Today's English Version, to the NIV, to the New World Translation. All well and good.
Then the other day at fellowship time he shows me a NIV someone had given him, which he thinks he likes and he wonders what I think. I recommend against it, but he seeks an elder's second opinion and then is flustered because I had not given him the same advice as his elder. At this point I want to key it down and go over it, but the woman sitting next to us pipes up for the NIV and there is no quick and easy way to redeem the situation.
What I had wanted as backup was for the preacher to continue using the traditional versions at the traditional service. First of all if the brother were more exposed to the KJV, he'd be more inclined to continue liking it. If he said something about the NIV, I could point out that you still use the KJV in the traditional service, so perhaps he should continue with that familiar version. Then if he asked the elder, I am sure he could point out that the NIV leaves out a lot of stuff. This is no secret, and I am sure he is aware of it. On one of the local gospel stations the speaker remarked that people refer to the NIV as the "Non-Inspired Version" because it leaves out so many verses. A sister mentioned one case in particular to him in class, from her interlinear Bible. And if a woman sitting by us overhears, she might remind herself that she is not supposed to be teaching men, but to keep her trap shut and ask her husband at home. Then I would have retained the guy's confidence, but without backup I can't do much.
As a third example of knowing when to fold 'em, take Rush Limbaugh. He gets on people's cases produces commentary against groups he doesn't care for. He has whole skits worked out to mock them, many deservedly so. A while back he was really ridiculing the politically correct thinking about American Indians. Funny and insightful.
Then somebody wrote him a letter saying that while the politically correct thinking about Indians is sometimes ludicrous, the Indians themselves in this country have gotten a pretty raw deal, and his diatribes are only making their case worse. He read the letter to us on the air, agreed with the premise, and stopped his spiels on the subject. He knew when to fold 'em.
I am thinking about that Singapore student. She was a weak member of society. Being a woman she started out with not much power. She was here in America trying to adjust to a new culture, and she was distracted by all her studies. She became a Christian. Paul had ordained that she remain as she was called, engaged to a fellow for nine years, planning on marriage. The ministry she was a part of convinced her to break up with her fiancé after they showed her in the New International Version where Paul said a widow could only marry someone belonging to the Lord. That made her do it, albeit reluctantly.
If we continue to honor the NIV, we share the guilt for such travesties. Rush had plenty of subjects to lay into; he didn't need to make the Indian's plight worse. We have all kinds of Bibles that leave Paul's sayings more or less in tact. Why go to the NIV?
I can't figure it out, and ultimately the preacher is answerable to God, and I'll just struggle as best I can with a real Bible, but if I don't get backup, there are a lot of little things I won't be doing.
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Copyright © 2003, Earl S. Gosnell III
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.
Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this paper--with credit given, of course--in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright in most cases, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.
I have used material from a number of sources for teaching, comment and illustration in this nonprofit teaching endeavor. The sources are included in a notes file. Such uses must be judged on individual merit, of course, so I cannot say how other uses of the same material might fare.
Any particular questions or requests for permissions may be addressed to me, the author.
Scripture quotations marked NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION or NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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