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To the glory of Jesus Christ, and not another.  Always. Amen.

This blog is the blog of Donald Kaspersen, a strange fellow to most who know me. Born and raised in the Borough of Queens, New York City, like most Protestant born Queensians, I think of myself as a Long Islander. We always say, when we are going to Manhattan or the Bronx, that we are going to the City, in fact, the very city we are part of. I am the father of  five children, all grown, and four grandchildren as of this writing and am married to Alice since 1973.

Consider the oddity of a Norwegian-American Lutheran boy raised in a mostly Jewish neighborhood, the residue about ninety percent Catholic. A stranger in a foreign land: and while my parents and grandparents used Norwegian as a code to keep young ears from knowing things they ought not, I was surrounded by Jewish expressiveness. To this day, I don’t know the complete words to any song in Norwegian, but I can sing “Hava Nagila.”

It is hard to imagine two cultures more opposite. Like in other Mediterranean cultures,  Jewish emotions tend to be out front, while for Scandinavians it may take months or years for anger or resentment, or love, for that matter, to be clearly expressed. Jewish humor is  often bitter, dark, trenchant, sarcastic; Norwegian humor tends to be droll and dry, the object being to show no emotion when used. Without the usual cues, My father realized early on that one could play a joke on some of our Jewish friends and they would not realize the joke until a minute or two further into the conversation. His interjecting of a joke into an over earnest  argument was always appreciated, though, and  he was counted a friend by scores of Jewish men.

The point of this is that everyone tends  to look at things through a cultural viewpoint. It is almost impossible to do otherwise. This is one of the reasons that there are so many differences between different denominations and how they can read the same verse in scripture and come to different interpretations. I have even noticed differences between denominations that have essentially the same doctrine because their histories go back to different nations, with different languages and customs.

A few years ago I read an article that said that the two languages with the largest number of words are English and French and that for every two words that there are in French, there are five in English!  Someone once said that the English speaking people are the world’s worst word thieves.

On the other hand,  biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and New Testament Greek combined have, perhaps ten or eleven thousand words. How many words does the average eighth grader have control of? Twelve thousand.

You might imagine that you could take the words in those three languages, find their equivalents in English and get a precise translation of the Bible. Yet, in many cases equivalents don’t exist. Decade after decade new translations come out, often with significant differences to certain passages. When I became a Christian, there were only three translations that were readily available: the King James,  the Revised Standard, and, to a l lesser extent, the American Standard. More than five decades later the number of translations must bewilder the new believer.

Are any of them near perfect? Probably not. The King James, the most beloved of the lot, was not well loved by the evangelical believers when it came out in the 17th century. They clung to their Geneva Bibles until the Crown managed to prevent them from becoming available. They complained about it  for years after.

This brings to the fore this question: if our versions of the Bible are not perfect, how can we be sure of what we believe? And the answer comes in two parts.

The first part is that many of these variations from translation  are of  no importance. Study of the Bible in its entirety, with careful reference to the different covenants systems( patristic, Mosaic, Davidic, New), will usually express which is right or most nearly so. The second is best expressed by a brief story.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are an English professor and through  the years have become an authority on a long deceased author. Your books on him have received wide acclaim, gotten you a place in one of the Ivy League colleges and you have had many Oxbridgian summers. You have been feted at the Sorbonne and universities in Germany, Italy and Scandinavia. You are on the top of your game.

Then it comes to your attention that the twenty year old man who lived next door to your author when he was in his late forties is still alive  and has been found. You realize that an interview might be the capstone of your career, it might fill in those mysteries, those holes in his story that you and other academics have wanted to get at for decades.

When you ask for an interview, the  now eighty-five year old man readily agrees and you book an airline ticket to where he lives. You get there and find that you are with a far more lively and alert mind than you might have expected. He regales you with the times that he spent with the author and the hours that author spent telling of his life, his hopes and fears, his world view, his hopes for what his readers might discover for themselves in his writing. This is just what you were hoping for. But then it all unravels.

He tells you that in preparation for this interview, he has read two of your books and a number of articles in academic journals and reviews. You are flattered, until he tells you that the man you have described, he does not recognize and that your understandings could not possibly be the ideas of the man he knew. In short, unknowingly, you have perpetrated a fraud and had poisoned the academic waters, in his regard, for decades. You are stunned.

You now have two options: either to accept what he has said and write a retraction of your whole academic life or decide that his are the rantings of an old man in his dotage.

This is the point: to understand an author, intimate knowledge trumps academic knowledge, though having both may be best of all.

Now, we, as Protestants, evangelicals, fundamentalists, charismatics or whatever else born again believers call themselves, declare that God is the ultimate author of the Bible. If this is so, he or she who pursue to know Him, will have the clearest understanding of what He is saying.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not saying that academic pursuit of what the Bible says is unnecessary. Rather, if you would have true clarity, pursue the Author with at least the same fervor as you seek the Book. This is the purpose of this blog.

Do you have a Bible verse for this?

    Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.  Hosea 6: 1-3

One translation says, “Then shall we know, if we press on to know the Lord…” But, no matter how it is worded, the point is that there is a relationship between knowing the truth and and knowing God through Christ, through the Holy Spirit. After more than fifty years of living for Jesus, I am convinced of two things: you cannot grow without drawing closer to Him and you cannot help but grow, if you do.

Yet there are many things that can stop us or slow us down on the road. There are many of us who are afraid to leave home, even if home is making life stale and boring. I hope that I can say to you the things that will bring you out of  the shadows into the great pilgrimage to Christ Jesus, “whom to know aright is life and peace,” as the old confession says.

This blog, despite its name is not written to skeptics and has no interest in running long philosophical or scientific debates, not because I cannot participate in these, but rather because I leave them to others. This blog should not be interpreted as anti-intellectual. It’s more an “everything in its place” blog and is not particularly finicky, either. We will touch intellectual fare from time to time, but I am mainly interested in getting everyday Christians of all educational backgrounds and all cultures moving on to what God has always wanted for them: learning the wonders of walking in the grace that He has already provided and will yet provide. To all that are interested, welcome. To those who are not, welcome, too. Perhaps, you will change your mind.

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