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 XIX
Bill Long 1/7/07
So, we continue. Hope you are enjoying these quizzes as much as I am writing them and "re-thinking" the verses.
1. "in his steps..."
The only reason I am giving you so few words here is that there is a great story that you should know about these words. The KS pastor of the 19th-20th centuries, Charles Sheldon, wrote his blockbuster work, In His Steps, in 1896. Just to set the record straight on two things...First, it was in this book that Sheldon proposed that people ought to ask the question, "What would Jesus do?" when they were faced with an ethically challenging situation (in this case, that of the homeless man who came to their church). Second, Sheldon was a liberal and not a proto-Evangelical or Fundamentalist. Well, there is a lot of explanation that has to go into that last sentence, but basically what I mean is that he was a Congregationalist minister at the time and a proponent of the social Gospel, as articulated by Walter Rauschenbusch and Washington Gladden. I like the irony of the present-day Evangelical/Fundamentalist lionizing a line for themselves that first fell from the lips of a liberal. Oh well, sometimes life's pleasures and ironies are small. In any case, where do these words appear?
2. "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.." KJV. The NRSV tones it down a bit by saying, "the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches.."
I actually prefer the KJV here. It is more pointed, more accurate with respect to what I am learning about human nature as I age. We have "lusts" and not merely "desires." The author who uses this trilogy says that these things come "not from the Father but from the world." But that is too simplistic, don't you think? We are mixed and tangled creatures, where our lusts are sometimes sanctified by spiritual longings, where our desires for sensual fulfillment cannot fully be separated from our longings for spiritual riches. I don't know if it was this three-fold listing that led to the medieval development of "seven deadly sins," but someone knows the answer to that one. In any case, I mastered these words early in life, before I really could understand them, and I still struggle with them. We are sensual beings, and our spirituality must find some of its refinement through heightening and affirming those same senses. How, then, is this verse "true?" Well, before you tell me that, why don't you tell me where it is from..
3. "The holy seed is its stump."
Here we have, at last, a full sentence! I first focused on this verse in those formative early 1970s when I heard the Rev. Earl Palmer, recently retired as pastor of University Presbyterian Church, Seattle, mention it. I don't know if he was speaking on the text from which this came, but in his inimitable manner of the time (I haven't heard him in 30+ years) he rushed ahead with his words so much that you could barely catch them. Here he just blurted out, "the holy seed is its stump." I don't know if I even remember the words the first time he said them. But he said them again, and I remembered them. I completely lost his theological point at the time, but I gradually "grew into it" as I became older. Now I see that this is a verse of great hope, for it comes after words of great destruction ("Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again.."). The author contemplates a terrible conflagration destroying the forest, completely devastating the trees though leaving their stumps standing. It is the holy seed (the promise of Messiah) that remains. So, where do you find this verse?
4. "dry and weary land where no water is.."
So we move from a verse emphasizing conflagration to one that speaks of a dessicated desert. But these words are from a Psalm (hint) of great longing in which the Psalmist declares his thirst for God to be like a thirsty person in a "dry and weary land where no water is." The image bespeaks three things: the parched state in which we often live our lives; the desire we have to elminate that state; and the fact that the quenching of the thirst seems sometimes to be unattainable. I used the Psalm from which this line was taken as my first exposition in my 1993 book (with Glandion Carney) Longing for God: Prayer and the Rhythms of Life. I had a theory of the Psalms which I still feel is very fitting...that the Psalms reflect the "movements" of our lives. The four leading movements I defined as "longing, distress, trust, and praise..," and I isolated several Psalms from each category that could be used as guides to our daily meditation. I wrote expositions of 30 Psalms for 30 days of reading. I still think it may be my best book... Well, after returning from my reverie, I ask you where you can find this Scripture? Has it meant something to you?
5. "I have become all things to all people..," NRSV. The KJV, reflecting the words of an earlier generation, has it: "I am made all things to all men.."
If there is one verse I hear all the time out there, it is this one. University Presidents explain that in order to succeed in their job they must be "all things to all people." There are online ruminations about whether mathematicians should be all things to all people (how can they possibly make ring theory available to all??); I ran across a quotation that says, "Trying to be all things to all people is one of the worst marketing mistakes you can make..." I even found an online review of Miami night life entitled "NIGHTLIFE: All things to all people," but the article began with a description of "miniskirt-slung hips" and "strappy high heels." Well, how does being all things to all people relate to THAT? I think the author is just trying to say that there are a lot of things "out there" in Miami night life (just so you would know..) for everyone. Thus, we see that this verse has been loosed from its original context to be a common cultural piece of advice, though we don't seem to know if it is good to be all things to all people or not. Which biblical author coined the phrase, and in what context did the phrase come out?
I know you believe me when I say I have many more for you, but let's call it a day for now.