Biblical Quizzes for Really Smart People
Quiz III--Movies II
Quiz VII--X rated
Quiz VIII--X rated
Quiz X- The Numbers
Quiz XXIX (Messiah)
Quiz XXX (Messiah II)
Quiz XXXI (Mess. III)
Quiz XXXII (Mess. IV)
Quiz XL--vivid images
Quiz LIX--weird doct.
Quiz LXV--doctrine II
Bible Quizzes for Smart People LIX
Bill Long 2/23/07
Some Doctrinal Aberrations/Other Thoughts
When I first began studying the Bible in earnest, I ran into all kinds of people who hung their Christian doctrine on various verses in the Bible that seemed, even at the time, rather ludicrous. My sense of the ludicrousness has grown over time. For example, when Mary and Elizabeth are meeting before the birth of John and Jesus, the text says, "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb" (Lk. 1:41). Some people I knew used this text as an argument against abortion for, they reasoned, since a fetus "leaped" in the womb, it must mean that fetuses are alive. I think you can make good anti-abortion arguments, but you ought not to rest your case on this verse. Let's begin with a few of these and then wander elsewhere.
1. "I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."
There really is no reason you should know where this verse is, but let me explain how a friend of mine used this to argue for two things: (1) the continuation of conscious existence immediately after death and (2) the fact that all children who die will be "saved." Thus it is a verse which carried a lot of weight for him. Here is the situation of the verse (to help you find it). King David had a son who died. While the son was still sick, however, David fasted and prayed, hoping that his condition would change. After the child's death, David began to eat again and explained it..."While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.' But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?" Then follow the bolded words above. The bolded words mean that it is now impossible to get the child back; David would, as it were, eventually "go to him," but the deep unbridgeable chasm between the living and dead cannot be breached by the child returning to David. Nothing here to build a doctrine on, in my judgment--just the longing of a distraught parent. So, where is this verse and what is the story which produces it?
2. "How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!"
If you ever spend much time with the Biblical prophets you realize that they spend a lot of time issuing oracles of judgment against surrounding nations. Jeremiah, for example, seems to just go in a circle, pointing to one nation after another in various compass directions, warning them of the impending judgment of God. This passage is taken from a prophetic oracle--it is directed against Bablyon. However, John Milton and others (I don't know the history of interpretation of this passage) saw in it a veiled reference to the fall of Lucifer, the angel who supposedly led a rebellion against God, taking up to 1/3 of the heavenly hosts with him. He has now been confined to an abyssal and abysmal existence, according to Paradise Lost. But if you study this Biblical passage, along with a companion passage from Ezekiel 28, you begin to wonder if the entire explanatory system suggested by Milton and others has anything to it at all. Surely it presents interesting drama--God fighting against rebellious forces, but there really isn't much biblical substantiation for such a doctrine. And, it certainly cannot be derived from this passage. Where do you find this passage, by the way?
3. "The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places," KJV. Another verse that expresses almost identical sentiments is: "He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places," KJV.
In my early Christian days I read lots of books of spiritual writers, writers who would introduce new verses of the Bible to me and apply them to the life we lived. In fact, as I am thinking about it, my current obsession with words (wanting to know all the words) is perhaps driven by the same kind of desire. In any case, one of my friends was once reading a book entitled Hinds Feet in High Places. It was written by Hannah Hurnard in 1955, and was an allegorical treatment of the Christian life. Modeled after John Bunyan's 17th century blockbuster allegory Pilgrim's Progress, Hinds Feet in High Places also tried to depict the struggles and victories of a person trying to be faithful to God. I like the image from the Scripture but I really am not one for this kind of modern allegorical literature. The transparent simplicity and Puritan rigor of Bunyan appeals to me, for some reason, but it does so because I know it is the product of another time; contemporary allegorical treatments leave me dry. Maybe it is because the authors lack imagination...In any case, where do you find these verses? Have they ever meant anything to you?
4. "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear."
Victor Hugo considered Isaiah to be one of the six most excellent books of literature that the West has produced (I guess I have given away where this comes from!). Indeed, as we get into what scholars call Deutero-Isaiah (40-66), we are confronted with language of such scope and drama that even a person of hard heart is melted. Overstatement or hyperbole is one of the rhetorical devices used by the author of this part of the book. This verse may be one of those "overstatements" or, could you argue, it is true? The author imagines a time when the people of Israel shall "build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat." In other words, a new day has dawned or will soon come, and the people will be filled with good things. One of the good things that will characterize their lives is that they will have their prayers answered even before they call. But, one might ask, if the first part of the passage never happened--i.e., if it never was the case that the people retruend to the land with splendor, can we also argue that this second part of the passage (where God promises to answer prayer before we call) is also not available to us? Or, do we just pick it because we like it and say that it is true? So, this passage creates theological problems for us, but at least it makes us dive into certainly one of the most dramatic and beautiful passages of Scripture. Where is it?
5. "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:/ The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:/ The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace," KJV.
We close with the KJV of probably one of the most familiar benedictions ever used in English-speaking Christianity. Oh, there are others. If you want to be really brief you have "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen," KJV. Preachers modernize this latter one in various ways. Or, if you really want a long one, you just do the one beginning, "Now the God of peace...," which goes on for about six lines, and which I quiz you on here. But the one I bold above is known as the "Aaronic benediction," for those in the know, and I would like you to be in the know today, too. So where do you find it?