Wednesday, February 17, 2010

through a glass darkly

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

When I was in religion class in grade school, this passage was like a punch in the chest by the schoolyard bully. I was happy as a child, why would I want to quit? And why would God issue such an edict of mandatory machismo? What happened "of such is the kingdom of God?".

This Bible passage is used by churches to justify the suspension of unconditional love and kindness. It's "childish" to assume that we should all be kind and unconditionally forgiving to one another. It's a "childish" thing to simply take someone at their word, and trust them. Truly "mature" love and kindness is bestowed only on the "right people, those who look and act like us, those who share the same creed of properly approved beliefs. Put away the "childish" thought that we love one another without first judging them. Who could love someone who is not entirely under one's control? Isn't it a little naive to simply feed someone because they are hungry? To visit them because they are sick? Jesus Himself could be accused of "childish" beliefs.

The passage goes on: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." Could it be that the Church conveniently got the translation backwards? Who is really seeing "through a glass, darkly?" and who is it really that sees "face to face"?

The Bible is a translation of a Greek script, made by the established Church of the early centuries A.D. Could the reference have been conveniently reversed by a dogmatic regime, for better control of the masses? Are we witnessing a second crucifixion of the man who brought a child into the midst and said "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."?

I believe that the passage is translated backwards, because as it stands, it runs exactly opposite of the teachings of Jesus. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free!"

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leslie (crook) said...

Not being a student of the New Testament, I had no idea it was Jesus who said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free!". These words are inscribed/carved above the arch of a building on the campus of my Alma Mater. And all these years I've never known the source.

Deber Klein said...

Interesting. I never thought that statement by Paul (I think it's 1st Cor 13) was about giving up childlike innocence and purity or justifying suspension of kindness or unconditional love. I think its just saying we have to grow up eventually. I believe the other part about the mirror just means that some day (afterlife) we'll understand the things we cannot understand today. I find that comforting, since there are so many things I don't understand in this life.
It's interesting how differently people interpret the Bible. It explains why there are so many churches, huh?

gary guetzlaff said...

I left the references out on purpose, to avoid being dismissed before being read. Here are the references for the quotes in the article:
Mark 10:14
Matthew 18:3
1 Corinthians 13:9-12

I take the passage as an observation rather than an edict. "Now I see things as through a glass, darkly. But I remember when I was a child, and everything was clear." The clarity and self-assurance of the child is constantly under assault by the lessons of life and maturity. To maintain that child-like clarity against all odds would be a good thing.