Just What Am I Trying to Prove?

If you really want to know the deep dark secret is of “what I’m trying to prove,” I’m gonna tell you.  In this post.  So get your cameras ready.

There is no question about it:  most people who sign up for my “40 Things” Bible class start wondering where in the world I’m going after about lesson 3.  I raise the question of “What is a canon?”  and I eventually get to the question, “Just whose idea is canon?”  People who start out excited, sometimes get scared, or angry, or concerned–and they quit. And they don’t ever get to the really good stuff–which is after lesson 10.  But 1-10 is foundational and must be covered—–up front.  I hide nothing from you.

Nobody wants to be misled.  I don’t, and I know you don’t.  That is why learning to search, to question, to evaluate, and to face tough topics is such an important thing for Christians to do. And that is why I put the controversial stuff right up front.  If you’re willing to think with me, we might just all learn something together.

But when somebody joins this group and writes to me demanding to know the gritty details of just what I’m up to, what church I go to, what I really believe:  I won’t tell them anything. I’ve already been more transparent on my websites about such things than anybody reading the websites.  Some people want to know ahead of time whether I pass inspection.  So let’s answer that:  if you have to ask, then I likely don’t.  So, you can either leave—or you could just listen for a while and evaluate what is being said.

That’s something that many Christians are not very good at:  evaluating ideas on the basis of the worth of the ideas.

I have been asked what new church I’m trying to start?  What crazy cult do I hail from or am I instigating?  One person said “I thought you were a crazy atheist just trying to get attention.”  Well, I hate to disappoint, but I don’t make or drink  Kool Aid—in fact, I don’t even drink coffee!  (which is actually funny).  I have no interest whatsoever in starting a new church.  That would be like having another kid to raise–and after nine of those I’m quite happy not to do that any more.  (I love all my kids!  And I don’t want any more.)

So what is the secret that I’m hiding?  What am I not telling you?

The truth is–and I hope you’re ready for this–the honest truth is . . . I just want to help people study the Bible better.  I’m not so much after what you believe, that is between you and God.  I’m more concerned to challenge you about how you get there (present tense).  Are you going to a church?  Good.  Keep going!  I’m not in competition with any church, any school, any website, or any group that meets anywhere.  I simply want to help people around the world study the Bible better!   That’s my dirty little secret!  (Isn’t that scary?)  As a matter of fact, I’m not only not a threat to anyone, I’m trying to be a “conversation partner” to any serious searcher.

And by the way, if you read my book (Scripture, Canon, & Inspiration) I am NOT attacking the Bible!  If that is what you think, you are not really reading it!  I definitely do challenge what a lot of people think about the Bible, but that is a far cry from attacking the Bible!  As a matter of fact, I am (and my book is) a strong advocate of the inspiration of the ancient scriptures.  Although I refuse to blame God for any particular Christian canon (and I believe that you should refuse to do that too), I strongly advocate that God can work through any of those Christian canons to the glory of Jesus as Lord.  And that (Jesus as KURIOS:  LORD) is the central issue.

Ok, now you know my secret.  I believe that Jesus is LORD.  It once was a mystery, hidden.  But now you know.

Gary

11 thoughts on “Just What Am I Trying to Prove?

  1. Hi Gary,
    I just want to say thank you and tell you that I greatly appreciate all of the work that you have done. I know that most of the time the complainers and opposers are the most vocal group when it comes to any ministry and that the happy and content rarely think to speak up. I enjoy studying church history so some of the content of the videos is review but for the most part I am learning so much and hearing much for the first time. I have not only been challenged but also have experienced the joy that comes with clearly understanding concepts that have caused confusion my whole life. My husband is a new Christian and he has also been enjoying the the videos. I am glad that he will have a solid foundation from your instruction on how to effectively study the Bible. I hope you know how much you have blessed so many people.
    Dayna

    • Hi Dayna, your note is extremely kind and I thank you for it. It is gratifying to know that both you and your husband (at different stages of your Christian walk, and yet now fully together–what a wonderful and gratifying thought!) are benefiting. Occasionally I hear how I am destroying the world, but many others like you help me to know that these video lessons are useful to people from a variety of backgrounds. Blessings to you both, and thanks again for your kind thoughts.
      Gary

  2. Dear brother Gary,

    Really, we are at a Crossroads. Science and archeology will continue to dig up (literally and figuratively) answers that will contradict the fundamentalist/evangelical interpretation of certain Bible passages. Reading their mail as if it is our mail is looking increasingly foolish in the eyes of many non-believers and even believers.

    Whether Christianity will increase or decrease drastically in the coming decades depends on our willingness to consider audience relevance for all of Scripture.

    Thank you, Gary, for bringing some sanity to our hermeneutical approaches. It is an exciting time to be alive as more and more is being unearthed in the ancient Near East which helps us understand the culture in which the Bible was written. We are also understanding ancient genres better.

    The question that remains is will Christians continue to read Scripture as if it was written to us or will we begin to read it as a conversation with God (as you so well put it) that draws us closer to Jesus and to one another through a true understanding of covenant. If we choose the former, we will choose a massive decline in the Christian community. If we choose the latter–that is, your approach, Gary–we could see a massive revival.

    • Oscar, thanks for your comment. I don’t know about massive revivals or what might hinder them or bring them about–sometimes what attracts the crowds is not necessarily healthy or long-lasting, even if it tastes good. Thanks for your comments and compliments. I do think that whether the positions I offer are a solution to anything, perhaps “integrity” demands the honesty of the conversation. I also agree with the “reading their email as if it were ours” picture. This does not mean it is irrelevant to us, but maybe we need to be more responsible in the applications. Good thoughts. Thanks.
      Gary

  3. I would not worry too much about the nattering nabobs of negatism. My husband and I have found the lessons very interesting and informative…sure some better than others but overall at very high level of thought provoking agitation. They have caused us to dig deeper and research on our own to re-enforce our thinking or to expand it to include other thoughts.

    Keep On Keeping On! We await in eager anticipation for the last 4 lessons. This has been a woderfus series.

    We also bought your book, my husband hogged it but has now finished therefore, I can read it so then we can discuss it together.

    The Dayna in the above comment is one of our daughters. fyi

  4. Hi Gary,
    I regret not being able to finish the Greek class with you. I profited from it greatly and use what I learned several times a week in my daily studies. I also really appreciate the 40 Things series. That was my introduction to Gary Collier and Coffee With Paul. I still look forward to receiving the weekly videos on the investigation of the scriptures and how they were viewed in the past and how we received our collection. As you know, the series prompted me to obtain, read and recommend to several friends your book “Scripture, Canon and Inspiration.” It was a real joy and enlightenment. Now I am anxious for future volumes that will cover more of the 40 Things. You have not answered all my questions — yet, and you have raised many new ones. Keep up the challenging work, I hope many others will profit from it as I have.

    • I want to reply publicly to you, Doug, simply to say before all that you have been a genuine delight in all of our Bible study associations, including Greek. A great wit, a determined spirit, an inspiring personal demeanor–I have certainly grown in numerous positive ways through our associations, even though we have never been allowed, yet, to shake hands and embrace. Without the internet this would not have been possible–even though it does have its limitations. Thanks for your kind comments.
      Gary

  5. gary, thanks so much for your lessons they have been great and i look forward to getting the rest of them 37 and up i can’t believe the time has passed so fast . each week i look forward to sunday for a new lesson as soon as possible i will start your other lessons please keep up the good work we need this because like you said we really don’t know the bible as well as we say we do. ennis

  6. Gary:

    Let me just say for a someone that was raised in the church, I still feel very “new” to all of this. I love the church that I’ve found, my children love it and the pastor and his family are amazing! I however still seem to be struggling with bible study and I have absolutely no idea why. I did read the book, and I got really confused, and scared-no idea why. I gave it to my pastor, he is almost done with it and we will be getting together to discuss and I’m very much looking forward to it. I honestly wouldn’t even stress about those that are being so negative, they are that way only because they don’t know and they are lacking in faith, I don’t know, I don’t understand; however, I have faith and something tells me that what what you are saying makes sense! So keep going! I wil figure it out I promise, some days I’m just slow out of the gates! As I read the book, at times I did seem to feel like I was understanding, and then the next day I was lost (could be the fibro fog thing honestly) I enjoyed every minute of it, the amount of passion you put into your work does not go unnoticed! I look forward to learning more! I know that I don’t know that bible as well as I would like, and I crave the knowledge it has to offer and look forward to learning and sharing everything that I can.

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