Catacomb Resident Blog

They Will Build It

03 August 2022

I'm told his name was Starky. He was an evangelical minister, a PhD who taught in a seminary somewhere. Not a liberal, but the kind of guy who was regarded as theologically conservative. I wasn't there, but someone took notes of a lecture he gave. He had been discussing the Ancient Near East. He shortened it to "Eastern" for his lecture. Then he stopped at one point and looked at his audience. "The Bible is an Eastern document. Jesus was an Eastern man and Christianity is an Eastern religion."

He talked about how, if you failed to deal with that, you were going to miss most of what the New Testament actually says.

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were pagans; so far as anyone can estimate, they are roasting in Hell right now. What they taught was directly contrary to what Jesus taught. Yes, He came much later than them in history, but His teaching was a call to restore the ancient Hebrew ways, and the Hebrew culture arose from the Ancient Near East. He wanted His nation to become once again the Eastern people they were before the Greeks came and defiled the Hebrew leadership with Alexander's evangelism of Hellenism.

I marvel at how all the scholarship is there, and has been available for at least as long as I have been alive. The research isn't that hard to find. There is no excuse for the mass of western evangelicals not knowing it. Yet, you will struggle to find a single western church leader who realizes that "the Bible is an (Ancient Near) Eastern book". When you try to tell them, they almost invariably reject it. At the very least, they deny that it's a factor in Bible exposition.

The nation that God shepherded from Egypt, across the wilderness and into the Conquest -- it was an Ancient Near Eastern nation. He built their culture from scratch, taking bits and pieces from the Mesopotamian background of Abraham and the Egyptian education of Moses. It's not that hard to identify how some of the Hebrew intellectual traditions took some of each and added some things uniquely different.

And it's not that hard to delve into how those traditions changed over the centuries, and were spoiled by some contacts, and strengthened by others. It's not that hard to analyze the Talmudic records and see how the Pharisees rejected Alexander's Hellenistic culture broadly, yet swallowed wholesale the philosophical assumptions of it. It's not that hard to find records of how the rabbis ate up the Aristotelian reasoning and used it to pervert their understanding of the Old Testament.

But most importantly, it's not hard to see how Jesus confronted the Pharisees about their philosophical perversions and complete departure from the Hebrew ways. It's not that hard to see how He kept calling them back to the Hebrew mystical viewpoint. It's plain as day to anyone who has the background in such things.

So far as I know, that seminary professor is long dead. And it seems the vast majority of those who attended that lecture didn't really hear what he had to say. As I look around the Net today, there's not much that reflects that quotation. Yes, there are people still talking about it, but it seems most of them are outside of church leadership. It remains something of a curiosity among academics only.

There are precious few people trying to build a religion based on this truth. They aren't taking this to the streets. They are keeping it in the ivy covered halls, as if it had nothing to do with how we should live. I don't think it's really the fault of the academics, but of the students preparing for church leadership. For whatever reason, they become swamped by their own subculture that excludes such things.

I'm one of a handful who tried to raise the issue in churches. All of us got pushed out in one way or another. I suppose the folks running things felt there was too much to lose by making changes of that sort. It falls to us to be Covenant people in exile. I'm not sure where the Lord is taking this; it's something future generations will decide. We few are simply trying to lay the foundation for what the Lord will call them to build.

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