This evening I talked for a while with a young man giving out flyers with the words, “The Gospel Truth!” in bold lettering across the top. I am willing, even eager, to talk with reasonable people and especially ones whose stated goal is to help me to a better life. That goal is what my Probaway – Life Hacks blog is about – helping people find and use information for living a better life, and so I feel a kinship with these people.
Under the flyer’s banner title was written, “There are certain facts which we would like you to know. We call them facts because they are things which God has plainly said in His revelation to man, the Holy Bible.” I got off to a difficult mental problem when reading that very short offering of help because there were words which flew without wings. The tract seemed to acknowledge their problem by calling attention to the word “facts” and offering a general definition of what they meant by facts. That was reasonable and fair, but once again I stumbled because what they were calling facts were not verifiable facts but instead were words written a couple of thousands of years ago in a very foreign language, which has gone though several translations. This unchallengeable supernatural spirit spoke to some person totally unknowable to me and to whoever wrote the flyer, in a language unknown to me, and this person wrote these things down of which I have no way of verifying the accuracy. But then this piece has the message brought from the spirit as being “plainly said“. This flies in direct contradiction of what most people think of as being facts or being plainly stated.
As usual I am willing to let my quibbles slide to the side for a while, and move forward with an open attitude because this man was clearly well meaning and believed he was on to something important for me. Upon opening the flyer the viewer is greeted with – “Three Important Facts – First Fact: God created mankind. God is a spirit and He created man in His image. God gave man a spirit and a soul and a body. The soul of man contains the mind, will and emotions. Man has the ability to choose his own way.” I don’t know how these people count because what this first single fact consists of by my count is at least eleven independent assertions. These assertions are not facts in a demonstrable sense but only in a metaphorical sense. Furthermore, the assertions can interact in a myriad of possible ways creating a blizzard of possible interpretations. I counted six similar sub-facts in the second fact, and ten sub-facts in the Third Fact. None of these facts could be observed in any way and had to be taken on unconditional faith.
In the conclusion the tract stated: “Repent and believe the gospel. If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Personally, I do believe in the message that Jesus taught, but never once in my life at 76¾ years have I heard anyone quote Jesus’ prime message properly. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” That statement is at the heart of the Sermon on the Mount. It is usually heard in some form of a watered down “Golden Rule”. But, if we are to believe in anything which Jesus is purported to have said, this is what we should pay attention to and what we should do. The reason is simple enough. This is something which we can do and discover if it is helpful. It is a bit difficult because we must think very carefully what someone SHOULD do to us. Jesus’ statement is still revolutionary two thousand years later.