21 October 2010

Oct 21

Reference links:
Old Testament

Narrative day!

Jeremiah makes unwelcome predictions and is thrown in prison when he is suspected to be defecting to the Babylonians. Jeremiah claimed he was not defecting, but given that his policy is "surrender to Babylon", I am not so sure he is telling the truth.

After that he has a secret meeting with Zedekiah and gets moved to a nicer prison. Then weak willed Zedekiah agrees to let some other people try to kill Jeremiah and, when someone else protests, lets Jeremiah be rescued again. Zedekiah was obviously not a very strong or decisive king, which is probably why the Babylonians put him on the throne. I do have some sympathy for him. He seems to be a very confused man in want of some guidance.

Perhaps that is why he arranges yet another secret meeting with Jeremiah. Jeremiah predicts that only in surrender will Zedekiah find safety for himself and his family. Zedekiah does not want his officials to hear about this and so he asks Jeremiah to lie and say that he was just begging the king for his life. Jeremiah agrees.

New Testament

We finish 1 Timothy today. There are some final instructions, including those warning against too much desire for wealth. The most interesting part of the reading is this:
Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth.
and
Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness.
Why is it that the author of 1 Timothy feels the need to imply that questioning is the way to doom?  I think this attitude against inquiry is quite possibly the most harmful effect of Christianity. In my experience, I have found that those who do not question their beliefs, whatever they may be, hold those beliefs in a weak and shallow way (and almost always fail to realize it). Those who question their beliefs, again whatever they may be, come to be stronger in their understanding. They may change their beliefs or they may not, but they understand why they believe what they believe and, more importantly, they understand what it would take to change their beliefs.

But it is, I suppose, easier to keep the bulk of believers in that shallow place of immature belief because, as many a former Christian atheist knows, for many people, Christianity fails upon examination.

Psalms and Proverbs

Self control is good!