Affirming or Colliding with Our Beliefs

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

  • Philippians 2:12-13

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.

  • 2 Corinthians 13:5-6

When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
    The lowest of slaves
    will he be to his brothers.”
He also said,
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!
    May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
May God extend Japheth’s territory;
    may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
    and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”

  • Genesis 9:24-27

“Ortega y Gasset’s philosophy is about life. He is not interested in analyzing the world in a cool and detached fashion. Instead, he wants to explore how philosophy can engage creatively with life. Reason, Ortega believes, is not something passive, but something active—something that allows us to get to grips with the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and allows us to change our lives for the better.
“In his
Meditations on Quixote, published in 1914, Ortega writes: ‘I am myself and my circumstances.’ Descartes said that it was possible to imagine ourselves as thinking beings, and yet to doubt the existence of the external world, including our own bodies. But Ortega says that it makes no sense to see ourselves as separate from the world. If we want to think seriously about ourselves, we have to see that we are always immersed in particular circumstances-circumstances that are often oppressive and limiting. These limitations are not only those of our physical surroundings, but also of our thoughts, which contain prejudices, and our behavior, which is shaped by habit.
“While many people live without reflecting on the nature of their circumstances, Ortega says that philosophers should not only strive to understand their circumstances better, they should actively seek to change them. Indeed, he claims that the philosopher’s duty is to expose the assumptions that lie behind all our beliefs.
“In order to transform the world and to engage creatively with our own existence, Ortega says that we must look at our lives with fresh eyes. This means not only looking anew at our external circumstances, but also looking inside ourselves to reconsider our beliefs and prejudices. Only when we have done this will we be able to commit ourselves to creating new possibilities.”

  • Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained

Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) concludes that if we do not engage ourselves with our own life, we are hardly living at all.

I have only one issue with that.  Many people think that Christianity is largely a function of how you were raised, thus Christianity is mostly prejudice, and in removing the prejudice, you destroy Christianity.

I will let that stand as a paragraph of its own because those that have that feeling about Christianity have never met Christ.  They are wrong.  The more I test my faith, or my faith is tested by circumstances, my faith in Jesus and God the Father is strengthened.  Instead of finding prejudices, I find more of Jesus.  Yet, I do find prejudices in the things that I was taught outside the Bible, and sadly much of it by people who claimed to be Christians and may well have been.  They were just Christians that never examined their faith that carefully.

As an old Bible teacher said often, “We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ, not by our good (or bad) theology.”  In other words, many of us could have thousands of our beliefs that are wrong, based upon the people around us as we grew up.  I am just as guilty in some areas, one of which I confessed recently.

To look back at that fallacy about Christianity not existing if not taught to children when they grow up, the adult who comes to Christ is an empty vessel, when not exposed earlier.  In this case, the fresh adult convert can have a lot less baggage to jettison as they grow in faith.

I love Ortega’s concept, even if his goal was to rid us of our Christianity, maybe even more if that were his goal.  For if we carefully examine our faith, true believers cannot fall away.  Jesus will cling to us.  Thus, as we examine the Bible and learn things that we believe but the Bible does not support, we can rid ourselves of an old wives’ tale and get closer to what Jesus wanted us to think about that subject.

That does not mean that since the statement “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Bible, we should stop taking baths or washing our hands.  Cleanliness is good for other reasons other than Christian beliefs.

The prejudice that I have heard about, but never heard preached upon, is that all dark-skinned people descend from Ham and Ham was cursed, therefore they are to be enslaved.  That is horribly wrong on all levels.  First, it was Canaan, Ham’s son, that was cursed.  It never says what Canaan did, only that Canaan’s father Ham told his brothers that Noah was naked.  The brothers are blessed for having not looked when they covered their father.  Ham did not help, thus no special blessing, but the curse does not apply to Ham’s other sons: Cush (grandfather of Sheba), Egypt, and Put.  Second, if you look at a chart of the “Y” chromosome, passed from father to son, since women do not have a “Y” chromosome, you will find that dark-skinned people are not exclusive to the descendants of just one son of Noah, Noah being the convergence point of all males on earth.  So, then, with dark-skinned being thrown out of the equation, the curse is limited to the Canaanites only.  The curse of being the slave of their brothers, specifically to the descendants of Shem in Genesis 9:25-27, can most assuredly refer to the Canaanites in the Promised Land that were either driven from their land, killed, or subjugated by the Israelites between the time of Joshua and King Solomon.

So, on all counts, this is ridiculous.  The premise is wrong – not all dark-skinned people descended from Ham and Ham was not cursed anyway.  The Biblical interpretation that dark-skinned people should be enslaved is a horribly wrong interpretation even if the premise had been correct, which it is not.  The Canaanites that occupied the Promised Land worshipped false gods.  God commanded the Israelites to rid the land of them, thus fulfilling the curse.

And if there were any Canaanites left on earth, and I am sure there are, Jesus’ commandment to love one another supersedes all other instructions.

It is necessary, as Ortega suggests, that we examine our faith.  In getting rid of old wives’ tales and prejudices, we can grow closer to Jesus and become more like Jesus.

If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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