Concepts in Misconceptions
Discerning the Original From the Counterfeit
The Bible is undoubtedly the most influential book of all time. To many, it’s a wellspring of divine wisdom; to others, the source of insidious disinformation. It inspires mankind with the deepest solemnities, and it conjures up the darkest horrors. It stimulates the sublime, and justifies the perverse.
Much of the world’s greatest literature and art springs—like Athena, fully grown—from Scripture: Dante’s Divine Comedy, Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Rembrandt’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Michelangelo’s David, and DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. It’s profoundly impacted philosophy, science, technology, and politics: Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion, da Vinci’s Codex on the Flight of Birds, and Jefferson’s Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms.
But unfortunately, The Bible has also been used as a force for evil in the world, as many individuals, institutions, and movements have twisted its truths to serve their own purposes. Through a subtle manipulation of its message, Scripture has been used to justify the enslavement of humans, the subjection of women, and the slaughter of the animal kingdom. As the inspiration for social engineering, it’s produced such ill-fated ventures as Utopianism and Socialism, and such dastardly movements as the Salem Witch Hunts and the Spanish Inquisition. Manifested into a social system, it’s been used to underpin inhumane political regimes like Fascism, Nazism, and Communism.
In light of such historical evidence, it’s clear that no one is immune from The Bible’s ability to both bless and curse anyone who encounters its strangely contradictory contents. When one expects to find a basis for hope and peace in Scripture, we find instead the seeds of despair and strife. Instead of illuminating our hearts with light and truth, it imparts darkness and confusion.
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To hear Kent and Zen Garcia talk about correcting biblical misconceptions, from October 28, 2021, CLICK BELOW.
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Just think how often in your own experience you’ve been confronted with some apparently profound gem of wisdom, only to find yourself wondering why it just doesn’t seem to ring true. You ask yourself about the source of this so-called “gem.” So you search your heart, you search every book you can find on the subject, and more importantly, you search the Scriptures, hoping to discover the origin of this gem. Yet much to your chagrin, you find you’ve fallen short of your goal. Nowhere is that particular truth expressed the way it was told to you. Why, you ask, should this be the case?
Sadly, it’s because in many instances the so-called “truths” we’re being sold are nothing more than a bill of goods, a mere shadow of the original facts. They’re “truths” that have been watered down, regurgitated, and repackaged under a different frame of reference from the one in which they were first conceived. Worse still, when you search The Bible from cover to cover, you find that the verse as it was quoted to you is conspicuously absent, as is anything even remotely resembling it. So you’re left more confused than ever and haunted by the thought that there’s no point in searching any longer because there’s no real basis for truth in the first place.
Yet, like a thirsty pilgrim, you cling to the hope that eventually you’ll stumble onto the spring of truth. And you do so because that’s the way God made us. Built into our very nature is a yearning for the truth, a hunger that by God’s design can’t be stifled, no matter how much the world, the flesh, and the devil conspire to dull it. As the great Christian apologetic C.S. Lewis pointed out:
“We’re like people who must believe in the reality of Heaven even though we’ve yet to go there ourselves, even as people who may have never tasted food or water would still know that such things as food and water existed simply because we’re men and women who hunger and thirst for them.”
In other words, even if we’d never seen or tasted food or water, we’d at least know of their existence because of our desire for them. As such, we could never resist the urge to find food and water, no matter how hard we tried to live without them.
Likewise, we must persevere in trying to discover the true meaning of what our hearts and minds grapple with daily. We must continue striving to understand the true nature of reality, because otherwise we’re robbed of our most valuable quality, which is our desire to seek truth and grasp at it, regardless of what others may think of our homely efforts. We do so because something deep down inside us can and does comprehend the truth when we see or hear it, in spite of all our doubts and fears to the contrary.
This ability to instinctually recognize the truth is, in fact, the essence of what it means to be human. In this, we catch a glimpse into one of the most sublime paradoxes mankind has yet to contemplate, as Albert Einstein explained: “The great mystery of the Universe is ... its comprehensibility.”
That said, how do we go about rescuing the truth from these centuries-old incursions? How do we strip away so many layers of disinformation? Our first order of business, I believe, is to consider how biblical misconceptions get started in the first place. Like most fallacies that humans insist on embracing, a great misconception is always based on a foundation of genuine truth. The more closely an idea seems to originate from a legitimate basis, then all the better, no matter how absurd or outrageous that idea appears.
Such is the case with the familiar adage: “Once in grace, always in grace.” It doesn’t matter that it’s not in The Bible. People assume it’s there because it sounds scriptural. That’s because, in principle, it is based on real biblical wisdom. The only problem: The principle speaks of God’s integrity and faithfulness, and not—I repeat, not—of those who are trying to connect with Him because He can be trusted.
Unfortunately, the idea that once you’ve entered into a relationship with God you’re locked into a perpetual relationship with Him, no matter what you do thereafter, simply has no scriptural foundation. To this very point The Book of Hebrews is quite emphatic, from first to last. According to it, you stay in God’s grace if, and only if, you continue in the way you began.1 You begin your relationship with God by having faith, and therefore you must continue the trip, right up until the end, with the same kind of faith that got you started.
Otherwise you end up like those miserable Israelites, who began their wilderness journey in faith, having witnessed God’s deliverance at every turn, only to find themselves wandering in a circle for four long decades, just a few miles short of the Promised Land.2
So, apart from having to get over the shock that this verse isn’t in The Bible, the next question is: How does one tell the difference, logically and honestly, between the original truth and its counterfeit?
The answer: In spite of all the forces that obscure the truth, the forms of disinformation still persist in revealing conspicuous patterns, so that upon further inspection of these patterns, a higher truth emerges which enables us to discern the original from the counterfeit.
To demonstrate this, let’s consider the next aspect of a great misconception. Take an actual truth found in The Bible, and isolate it from its context. Again, the more subtle that this process of isolation is executed, all the better. In this way, almost any manner of disinformation can be blamed on The Bible.
A classic example of this technique involves a famous passage in the twenty-fourth chapter of The Gospel of Matthew where Jesus’ disciples asked Him when the End of the Age would occur. As tradition would have us believe, Jesus told them that not even He knew when it would occur, that only His Father in Heaven knew the day or the hour. But if you examine the context of His conversation, you might be surprised to find out that Jesus really said:
Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. No man knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.3
From this, we see that Jesus was talking about the day when Heaven and Earth will pass away, and not His Second Coming, which as anyone who’s studied The Bible knows will be followed by the long-awaited Millennial Reign. Then, after the Millennium, Satan, who’s bound for the duration of this thousand-year period, will be loosed for “a little season,” after which he leads one final rebellion against God and is then thrown into the Lake of Fire.4
By allowing the context of this statement to convey its meaning, we’re able to determine what day and hour Jesus was really talking about. He was describing an event that occurs at a different moment in the biblical timeline—after the Second Coming, after the Millennium, after the “little season,” after Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire, and after the Final Judgment. Following all of these events, then, the twenty-first chapter of The Book of Revelation opens with the words:
And I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth; because the first Heaven and first Earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.5