Dec 21 2017

Believing like Jesus

A wonderful time of year

Monsieur d’Nalgar:  Mr. Lindholm informed me of several corrections that are now reflected herein.  These corrections were made via social media after the letter was published in the Sentinel Record…  The comments that follow were also harvested from social media.  Vendredi 22 décembre 2017 à l’ère commune.  Joyeux Noël à tous!

Dear editor:

It’s a wonderful time of the year.

The world is captivated by the story of the birth of Jesus. It is a story about a baby born in a feeding-box. He did not come in royal splendor as a king. He was born to an olive-skinned, Middle Eastern man and woman. His mother, pregnant and unwed and looked upon as property, delivered her son into a world that would undeniably see him as an illegitimate child born wrapped in rags and placed in a smelly feeding trough in a dark foul-smelling barn. A young mother giving birth to a son that later, as an adult, people believed to be of the Son of God.

I find wonderful meaning in the imagery of the Christmas story. This is a legend about something that happened in a time that was cruel and ruthless with an authoritarian social order and culture. One where men executed unlimited control and domination. They abused their power and authority. It’s a story authors wrote many years after Jesus died. They really believed this man had a genuine connection to God like no one ever before or after, a story about a liberator coming to set his people free, a story about the birth of a kingly prince who, in fact, is the Prince of Peace.

We are told singing angels appeared out of nowhere. A new bright star illumined the babe in the manger. Shepherds came and observed. Wise men seeing the brilliant star traveled a great distance to see what was happening. They brought gifts and honored the newborn child. Today, more than 2,000 years later, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is worshipped and celebrated all over the world.

What happened that day? I believe this is what the beginning of liberation for the broken and oppressed, the marginalized, poor, needy and sick looks like. It doesn’t come from those who hold power and authority, it comes from ordinary people, the followers who think and believe like Jesus.

Christianity’s most quoted Bible verse, John 3:16, was translated from Arabic Aramaic to Greek to English. The English “American Standard Version” reads — “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes ‘in‘ Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The Arabic Aramaic translated directly to English reads “whosoever believeth ‘like‘ Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life.” It is not until we begin to live and believe ‘like‘ Jesus that we are ready to follow and walk in the footsteps of Jesus, serving, healing, feeding, sheltering, clothing, respecting and always loving everybody always.

Believing in Jesus is a choice. Believing like Jesus is a gift from God. It is then that our sacred journey begins experiencing eternal life in the here and now.

Merry Christmas.

George Lindholm
Hot Springs

 

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2017/12/21/believing-like-jesus/

3 comments

    • Steve Gillette on December 21, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Why do you believe the Greek was translated from Arabic? I always heard it was Hebrew. Source?

    • Jacques on December 22, 2017 at 11:12 am
      Author

    George unintentionally conflated “Arabic” with “Aramaic” and I have corrected this post to reflect his intentions… That said, why would you think the New Testament was ever translated from Hebrew? I once worked with a woman who was absolutely convinced that the language of the Bible (old and new testaments) was Yiddish. Oy vey!

    As for where George arrived at the idea for this letter, here is what he offered via social media:

    My source was Professor Bart D. Ehrman. James A. Gray Distinguished Professor. EDUCATION. Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary, 1985. M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary, 1981 B.A., Wheaton College, 1978. RESEARCH INTERESTS. New Testament Studies; Early Christian Apocrypha; Apostolic Fathers. He is known to be the foremost authority on the Scriptures pertaining to the historical Jesus.Bart Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God’s Problem.He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. I trust his scholarship and feel safe in using him as a reference. I’ve read many of his books and I’m sorry that at the moment I can’t identify the book I read this Aramaic translation fact in. Jesus only spoke Aramaic and many other things attributed to Jesus translated directly from the Aramaic to English have different reads than from the Aramaic to Greek to English I believe it was a book I checked out at the Garland County library.

    George also added this:

    Yes, in my rush to get to print I did [Jd’N: use “Arabic” instead of “Aramaic”]… Both are languages, different ages and Jesus actually spoke the Aramaic. Made correction too late so am stuck with my boo-boo. I corrected the FB post. I did hope the print would pass as sounding similar. When you are old things like this do not surprise one. C’est la vie.

    • Jacques on December 22, 2017 at 11:15 am
      Author

    And of course there was this expected response in today’s paper, from one of our regular tea party fundamentalists:

    Believe ‘in,’ not ‘like’

    Dear editor:

    Dear George Lindholm — Having previously had lunch with you, I know what a loving, kind man you are. But, this doesn’t give you the right, in your letter to the editor of December 20th, to preach heresy concerning Jesus, the Gospel and the standard beliefs and tenants of Christianity (Heresy being belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious, especially Christian, doctrine).

    In your letter, you begin by calling the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus a legend (I guess similar to the legends of Greek Mythology) implying it is fanciful and therefore not true. You obviously don’t believe that the story is a truthful representation of the event. George, if this Biblical story isn’t true, then why should you or anyone else believe anything else found in the Bible is true? You don’t get to pick which parts to believe and which parts to ignore.

    You then attack John 3:16 as mistranslated. You claim to know better than the multiple standard translations of the Bible. These translations clearly state a person needs to believe “in” Jesus to gain eternal life. Your translation of the verse claims just believing “like” Jesus will gain a person eternal life (as in believing His philosophy of life).

    Orthodox Judaism and Christianity believe that sin separates us from God. The problem with your letter has to do with how sin is atoned for or forgiven. For sin to be wiped clean, God requires a blood sacrifice (Leviticus 17:11, Hebrews 9:22 — “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin”). Something or someone must take your place and pay the price for your sin. All of this discussion presupposes that you even believe in sin.

    Believing “like” Jesus may make you a good person but it doesn’t get you forgiveness of sin so you can spend eternity in God’s presence. You must believe “in” Jesus. Believing that His death and shed blood on the cross is what guarantees you eternal life.

    After believing “in” Jesus then one receives God’s Mercy through Grace and receives eternal life. Not by good works but by belief (Ephesians 2:8-9 — For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God and not by works). After gaining salvation, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a believer should now “believe like Jesus” leading to the good works of serving, healing, feeding, sheltering, clothing and most of all, loving thy neighbor as yourself.

    George Lindholm, merry Christmas. While I’m at it and while in such a festive, loving mood — to Mike Nunn, Judith Zitko and “Doc” Crawford, may you all also have a merry Christmas; or at least a Happy Holiday Season.

    Jack Sternberg, MD
    Hot Springs

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