THE FOOLISH WAYS OF MEN

alternate textThis time of the year is becoming more and more famous for all kinds of bold statements about science and religion, made by people who have turned their backs on belief and have made it their new life ambition to discredit and criticize those who have chosen to follow a Scriptural (or “Biblical”) lifestyle. I am not sure why many people pick this time of the year to brag about how “being an atheist is so much better than being a believer”. Maybe it is because people are keen to voice their new year’s resolutions during this time of the year – tell their friends about it, write about it on Facebook and Twitter and Blog pages – resolutions that often contain something “spiritual” or something “biblical”. Atheists and non believers are quick to label this kind of talk as “fairy tales” and “childish” and, I am afraid to say, sometimes one cannot blame them for doing so.

Let us put ourselves in the shoes of an atheist, just for one moment: With the month of December finally behind the back, you have just about had enough of all the wishy washy Christmas traditions – most of which are full blast fairy tale material, with no historical or scientific basis whatsoever. And now, just one week later, at a time called “the beginning of the year”, while there is nothing scientific that points to this time as a “beginning” (it is not even the beginning of a new season) – people are chanting “happy new year” all over the place and bore you with the same old new year’s resolutions they’ve made last year and the year before, each time without success. And, having done your own bit of homework, you know that this month is called “January” after Janus, the god of the doorway, originating from the Roman mythology, a subject and line of thinking that you, as an atheist, do not take seriously at all. You also know that in ancient times this time of the year was more or less the three quarter mark of the year and that the new year only started towards the end of March and beginning of April.

I can fully understand why atheists can become so irritated with people like us, who call ourselves believers. Believers keep shooting themselves in the foot by continuously mixing pure Scriptural belief with unscriptural decorations, declarations and traditions. What we often do not realise is that there are people out there who have begun to see through the fairy-tale nature and the unreliability of some of the things that believers hold onto for dear life. There are also people out there who look at a religion like christianity, who cannot remain silent when they see the internal differences and the strife and the vigorous way in which some would defend a certain belief, or ritual, or practice – the very same belief, or ritual or practice that others, who also call themselves “christian”, would oppose.

Earlier this week someone wrote an article on News24 entitled “Religion is Out Dated in 2013”. Yet another bold statement about religion at the beginning of the year. The article is followed by the usual heated discussion that is often the case with an article of this nature. Someone who called himself “Atheitist” responded to someone else who suggested that the article was actually intended for christians, only. This is what he said, in response:

So what type of Christian are you? 

A Hansie Cronje, Joost van der Westhuizen, Ray Creepy Crawly, prosperity gospel (check my designer shades), Christian? 
A Benny Hinn fraud faith healer (no amputees allowed), Christian? 
A Pope, hates gays, condoms, abortion, birth control and reports of clergy child abuse, Christian? 
A Joseph Smith, I found the gold tablets and Jesus visited America, Christian? 
A snake juggling, glossolalia, omtru wiggwagg snogerumpus slobberdam molosovic, tongue slobbering, rolling on the floor, Christian? 
A Jim Jones, have some Kool-Aid, Christian? 
A David Koresh, what a lovely little daughter you have, Christian? 
A Sun Myung Moon, the moonie messiah, Christian? 
A Seventh Day Adventist, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes on Saturday, Christian. 
A cafeteria Christian, who decides which bible bits to peddle and which no longer apply, to fit his preconceptions? 
A Jehovah’s Witless, sorry no blood transfusions and you are not one of the lucky 144000, Christian? 
A sex obsessed member of The Family type Christian? 
A Christian Scientist, we don’t do doctors but pray even if kiddies die, Christian?
A gun toting, rapture ready, American Jesus, the world is going to end this year, again, Christian? 
An Aryan National, neo-nazi, we hate Jews and people with dark skins and Jesus was a white man, Christian? 
An anti-science, anti-knowledge, the world is only 6000 years old, Christian? 
None of the above but a true ™, whatever that means, Christian? 

Understand my confusion? It helps to know what brand of snake oil you are peddling.

Having read this, I had the urge, on the one hand, to call out “well said”, but, on the other hand, I wanted to remind “Atheitist” of something that David felt so strongly about that he emphasised it in two of his psalms (14 and 53) – the words: “The fool says in his heart: There is no elohim”. It is foolish to mix truth with charming man-made tradition and ritual. But it is just as foolish to use the mistakes and inabilities of men to comprehend the ways of the Almighty, as an excuse to turn one’s back on belief. Just as foolish as thinking that science alone is enough to survive in this world that we live in. The foolish ways of men may be seen on both sides of the dividing line: those who say they believe, as well as those who say that they do not believe.

Shemot (Exodus) 3 is included in this week’s Torah portion. Mosheh (Moses) was called to liberate his people from the yoke of Mitzrayim (Egypt) and he needed to go to the Pharaoh with the exact details of the One who had sent him. He was not to go there with a vague idea or a loose description of the One who had sent him. No, there was no uncertainty whatsoever. He was sent by none other than Yahweh, the Elohim of Avraham and Yitschaq and Yaákov. The One who had sent him, had a Name. His Name was Yahweh. No doubt about that. No foolish tricks to indicate that it is okay to substitute his Name with another name. And the One who sent Mosheh was the same One who was involved with Avraham and Yitschaq and Yaákov. There was no confusion. No foolish tricks to try to dissociate Him from the fathers. No clever manoeuvres to try to replace Him with a more modern version that may have been more acceptable in the eyes of the Egyptians. No effort whatsoever to combine his identity with a Santa Claus type of character or with some kind of ancient myth or legend. Just the simple truth of what had been revealed by Yahweh Himself. Nothing more and nothing less.

Personally, I don’t like, nor practise new year’s resolutions. But today I would like to suggest the following, not because it’s the beginning of a new year, but because it’s the way of Yahweh:

Let us resolve to look at our own beliefs afresh, comparing them with the clear guidelines of Scriptures, with a complete willingness to do away with those aspects that are not part of what Yahweh had commanded. If it’s not from Him it may hinder us in our walk with Him and make us miss out on the blessings that He had set apart for us.

Let us resolve not to be critical towards a Scriptural command or a Scriptural practice, just because we don’t like it or others don’t like it or because we have been taught that those practices are something of the past. Putting men’s words above Yahweh’s words is exactly the kind of thing that fools tend to do and we should avoid this at all cost.

Let us resolve to remove every trace of vagueness from our own words and thoughts so that those around us may know exactly whom we serve and where we stand with regards to Scriptural truth – this will make our lives a true and reliable reflection of the simplicity and the straightforwardness of Yahweh’s word.

Let us resolve not to make decisions about Yahweh and his Word, based on our own limited understanding of certain aspects of his Word, or our own limited understanding of the world that we live in. Not fully understanding certain matters, is not enough reason to start doubting the One who is the Creator and Sustainer of all living things.

Let us resolve to remind ourselves each day that true inner peace will only become a reality for us if we follow the pattern of Yahweh’s word – obeying his commandments, keeping the Shabbat, honouring the Scriptural feasts, not neglecting the assemblies of Yahweh’s followers, giving towards the work of Yahweh and treasuring his Name as the most precious gift of all.

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