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Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Do you know what the Sistine Chapel smells like?

Do you know what the Sistine Chapel smells like?

I was interested to dialogue of late with a sister in the LORD who was speaking about her home church and about how much she loved the teaching of her pastor. She used glowing words. She so admired his command of the Biblical texts, the nuance, the original intent and the ancient languages. 

She found her experience at church enriched deeply by her pastor's gift for elucidating Scripture and bringing it to life. 

In thinking about this, I wanted to write up something about this and it gives me the opportunity address two subjects which I rarely have much positive to say about: Hollywood and films produced there. 

Now, like most American boys, I've seen my share of Hollywood films, but, I have to admit, as I've gotten older (now I am 48), I find myself agreeing more and more with the approach of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, who claimed to have never seen a Hollywood film.

Now, I grew up with films like The Ten Commandments, The Sound of Music, etc.(which is a film I really like), but in this post I want to talk about a film that I think has really taught me something important. What film is it? It is the film Good Will Hunting. For me, this film teaches an important symbolic message.

Good Will Hunting

Now, for those of you who have not seen this film, I can summarize it quickly. It is the story of a young man, who is a genius, but he was also an abused orphan, who goes through a process of "growing up" and maturing from a "boy genius" to a "man genius." He does this with the assistance of an older psychological counselor who he becomes quite close to.

Now, one of the main transition points in the film is a moment where this young man realizes that his experience with life is not quite as rich as he thought it was and it involves something that he did not have as a genius: wisdom. 

Sure. This genius had a photographic memory and could recall page after page of hundreds of books that he had read and at will, but he was lacking in experience and in the breadth and depth of knowledge. 

This story and this basic plot is symbolic of the state that we Christians today find ourselves in when it comes to the Bible. 

We may know the Bible well and here I mean backwards and forwards, but most of us are lacking an experiential engagement with Scripture and this can hamper our ability to understand it.

Let's not be discouraged because people for centuries have been reading Scripture and have not been able to understand it fully... Note the following example of this from the book of Acts in the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch, which, of course, we are all very familiar with.

Do you understand what you are reading?

 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
    and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
    Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:26-34 ESV)

Now, when we look at this text of Scripture and compare it to our film under discussion, the Ethiopian Eunuch, a very wise and intelligent man, plays the role of the genius who needs guidance and Philip plays the role of the mentor, the wise teacher. 

Now, this Ethiopian Eunuch was certainly educated. He could read and had access to the texts, but he acknowledged that he had a limitation in understanding. 

Now, we are all in this same situation and I think the sooner we realize this, we are then on the road to a greater and potentially more accurate understanding of the Bible.

Many of us, like the genius Will Hunting, have read about the Sistine Chapel (or the Bible), but how many of us have visited the Sistine Chapel and seen it for ourselves? 

Of course, visiting the Bible today is much harder, but frankly it is possible. We can study things like:

1. Biblical geography
2. Biblical zoology
3. Biblical botany
4. Biblical astronomy
5. Biblical meteorology
6. Biblical calendars
7. Biblical culture
8. Biblical archaeology
9. Biblical languages  

which when we add these to the Biblical texts, we are going to better be able to say that not only have we read about the Sistine Chapel, we've visited it and we know what it smells like.

Download Samuel Martin's free ebook - Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy here - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/