Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christian Mythology: 19. Israel – Myth: The Church has replaced Israel and is the new recipient of God’s promises

Last Friday afternoon a friend loaned a book to me. I read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol over the weekend. What a pleasure to have nothing better to do than curl up with a good book by the fire for an entire weekend. The action in the book takes place over the span of a mere ten hours. I think I read at about the same pace. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Right away I can hear the Christians crying out, “Heretic!” That all started with Brown’s first book in the series, The DaVinci Code. Remember folks, this stuff is fiction. What is non-fiction the author clearly points out in the foreword. Even then, to some readers the lines are blurred. Hence the caution, or should I say, encouragement, to read with an open mind.

In some cases you don’t need to read to see the truth. Much of the book’s action takes place inside the U. S. Capitol building in Washington, D. C.. I took my family there during the Christmas holidays last year. The new visitor’s center opened recently so we took a fantastic tour of this iconic building. The inside of the dome is just as Brown describes it. There at the top is the apotheosis of George Washington. Surrounding him on the catwalk perimeter are thirteen statues of various mythological gods and goddesses. I highlighted this to my children and asked them to reconcile a statement that we hear far too often today.

If this country was founded on Christian principles by Christian fathers, then why did they make such prolific use of what appears to be non-Christian (aka pagan) symbology? The capitol building is not alone in this enigma. The adjoining Library of Congress also contains a great deal of secular and pagan symbolism in statue, written, and architectural form. How strange it must seem to have all this surrounding one of the last surviving Guttenberg Bibles (prominently displayed in the left-central wing before the grand staircase).

If you look at all this with an open mind you have to ask yourself just how Christian this all is. This is itself a trick question because we all have a very subjective definition of “Christian”. Usually, without thinking or little basis in research or fact, to us as individuals, “Christian” means “just like me.”

Expand this thinking a little bit and you can see how some Christians extrapolated it to mean that all Christians are just like us in the U. S. A.. This dangerous approach partly created a myth believed by many that America replaced Israel as God’s holy land, our Christians for God’s chosen people. The blatant absence of Jewish symbology in our capitol’s architecture is no objective proof of this viewpoint. Instead, it may point to a very fleshy pride we take in ourselves and our country. (I am in no way discounting the tremendous blessings and freedoms we enjoy in our land. They were bought with the price of brave men and women who gave their lives for our future. I am not so sure that the blood of Jesus Christ has anything to do with it.)

Dan Brown brings this all to light towards the end of the book where he quote heavily from Biblical texts. Unfortunately, his theology is a bit skewed at the end. Nevertheless, without being a spoiler for those who have not read the work, I will emphasize again his point to read with an open mind. For instance, with a bit of change in perspective, the reader easily understands the transformations that Brown wants us to believe - that is, that man can become god (apotheosis). Brown does a great job of using ancient language to his advantage until the very end when he expects us to allow the English word “atonement” to stand on its own. He is not the first (I have heard many preachers use this example) of breaking the word into parts “at-one-ment” to describe our relationship to God in ourselves becoming like Him as gods.

That’s where he missed the entire point of atonement. A better study on His part could have perhaps revealed the at-one-ment that God desires for us all. Jesus prayed for it in John 17. Read it carefully, particularly when you see the word “one”. What do you see?

In Genesis, we lost our “at-one-ment” with God when we became like Him. We became as gods knowing good and evil. We were already created in His image. That’s not the god-like trait in question here. Along with that knowledge we also took upon our race the sin nature. That nature split us apart from God, severing our “one” relationship. The blood atonement of Jesus Christ redeemed us back into that “one” relationship with our Father.

The ultimate purpose of this work is to restore Israel back into the sheepfold of Jehovah. Fellow partakers of this Gospel reside in America and throughout the world. God bestows His blessing on a people, not a place.

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