THE GUARDED MYSTERY


Church organizations have survived, and still exist today, on their ability to confuse, frighten and instate in the minds of the people an insurmountable wall of mystery around the Bible. For centuries, the Catholic Church didnít want the Bible, or writings from the Bible, in the possession of the common man. Until the printing press, Bibles had to be copied by hand and were not generally available for the people.

In the 1600ís and 1700ís some Christian men began to question the formerly unquestioned "mystery" of the Bible and Christianity in general. During that time, several challenges to the "incomprehensibleness" of the Scriptures were raised. John Toland, an honest and learned man, was one who questioned this mystery. In 1696, he wrote: CHRISTIANITY NOT MYSTERIOUS Ė or A Treatise Showing That there is Nothing in the Gospel Contrary to Reason Ė Not Above it: and that No Christian Doctrine can be properly called A MYSTERY Ė (books had long titles in those days).

According to John Toland, you cannot claim a mystery as your doctrine, nor can you reasonably say that you believe in it. This, then, would indicate that the condition called "blind faith" is actually a misnomer since it is impossible to believe in something you cannot fathom. What is usually called "blind faith" is actually nothing more than "gambling" Ė and that, with no skill or attempt to learn the rules of the game and the odds are against you.

John Toland and Thomas Jefferson faced a religious establishment that was almost as powerful as government. They recognized the threat and had enough presence of mind to stay alert. Today, Americans are fast asleep and are unwilling to even think of such challenges. Nonetheless, the battle still rages although few are willing to engage in it on the side of reason and logic.

Religious people who love mystery still fight against the thinking, reasoning Christian who dislikes mystery and prefers answers and concise definitions. Iím one of those people who has no use for mysteries. Mysteries do me no good. Knowledge from the Bible does me good.

Jesus said, "Behold I show you (explain) a mystery." A "mystery," in that case, was not an unsolvable enigma, as most people think of it today. It was only something that they hadnít yet come to understand. Jesus was showing them how to understand. And thatís what the Bible is all about: understanding!

A cardinal rule for the thinking man is: "Never build upon a doctrine that you donít understand." And since there are still many things we donít understand, this caution will prevent us from making many mistakes.

John Toland said it this way: "Reserve judgment on whatever is uncertain and assent only to clear precepts." That philosophy is great advice for anyone, especially a Christian. However, it appears that Christians today are satisfied to sit back, go to sleep, and let others do their thinking for them. If somehow they could be convinced to not accept anything they donít understand, youíd see a revival immediately. If they would take their Bibles in their hands, instead of leaving them on the coffee table, and begin to discover truth by reason, rather than relying on the mysticism of priestcraft, we would see a change.

In this study, we are looking for reasonable answers. Hopefully, reasonable Christians will investigate it. However, those who believe that Jesus and his Father are one-and-the-same may dismiss the question out of hand and call it blasphemy.

The Bible advises us to hear a matter before we attempt to answer it Ė otherwise, we prove ourselves to be fools (Proverbs 18:13).


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