The Different Way God Records History

Columbus_Arrivind_When I wrote the article at Spec Faith referencing Columbus Day and comparing some of Christopher Columbus’s attributes to writers and readers, I had no intention of being controversial. But such has been the deconstruction of the history of Christopher Columbus, the only two comments I received were about the negatives that occurred under his governorship of the lands he claimed for Spain.

I admit, though I minored in history, I knew very little about Christopher Columbus. Though his journal and numerous letters exist as well as written work from various others, notably a priest who complained to the crown about the abuses he witness in the New World, what I learned about his voyage from Spain to the New World was positive for the most part.

However, when the 500-year anniversary of Columbus’s successful Atlantic crossing approached, all kinds of deconstructionists arose. The new party line was that Columbus was a greedy gold digger who abused and enslaved the natives.

As it turns out, some of what these Columbus critics said, is true, though much has been filtered through the lens of what is now politically correct. For example, these present-day critics are horrified that settlers coming from feudal Spain established a type of feudalism in the New World. (For a balanced perspective, I recommend “Honoring Christopher Columbus” by Dr. Warren H. Carroll.)

However, Columbus’s own inattention to important governmental responsibilities, and then his inappropriate responses to the subsequent mess certainly are black marks on his record. But where were those black marks in the history books I studied? By and large, Columbus was portrayed as a man who drew an incredible conclusion—that he could sail west and reach the East Indies—and risked everything to prove that he was right.

He wasn’t right, and that fact was clearly stamped on history. But in the process, of course, he opened up the New World to European conquest. For whatever reason, the black marks of his governorship faded into the background of traditional history. Yes, they happened, but no, they didn’t fit into the unit on great explorers.

Some people say that those who come out ahead get to write the history, intimating that western scholars made an intentional effort to shuffle Columbus’s faults and misdeeds off the pages of the historical record.

And who’s to say that didn’t happen? I went through school believing the apocryphal story about Honest Abe Lincoln cutting down the cherry tree, only to confess when he was confronted with his misdeed.

But all this handling, or mishandling, of history, makes me realize something incredibly powerful: God didn’t write Scripture that way.

Perhaps one of the best evidences of God’s authorship of the Bible is in the very different way Scripture records history. There is no whitewashing of winners, no bypassing the black marks.

Noah, the righteous man God chose to preserve when He judged mankind for their sins, followed God’s instructions to the letter, built an ark, loaded it with animals, and rode out the storm. When at last he made land, when he’d built an altar and worshiped God, he drank himself into a drunken stupor freeing his youngest son to commit some sort of deviant sex act—apparently with Noah, but perhaps with Noah’s wife.

Abraham, the great patriarch of the nation of Israel who trusted God so much he was willing to give up his son at his command, decided to lie about Sarah being his wife because he was afraid.

The people of Israel to whom God listened when they cried to Him, experienced a miraculous release from captivity, but in going free, they worshiped their idols, grumbled and complained against their leaders, and ultimately refused to go into the land God had said He would give them.

In much the same way as those before and after him, King David, the greatest king in Israel’s history, stands exposed in the light of God’s truth as an adulterer and murderer.

In other words, God did not whitewash history. He didn’t show His chosen man, His chosen nation, His anointed king, in the kind of favorable light that human historians show our conquerors, our great statesmen, our explorers.

God’s ways are not our ways. He exposes Solomon’s disobedience, Samson’s lust, Elijah’s discouragement, Peter’s denials. He judges the people He chose and sends them into exile. He brings to light the sin in the church at Corinth and in Jude warns about the false teaching that is coming from within the body of believers.

Human historians do not, have not, would not record history in this way. We know this is so because there are Sunday School versions of the lives of these Biblical figures, and most bypass the black marks or soften them by quickly telling of their repentance.

But what about all those people who died in the desert because of their rebellion against God? What about wise Solomon who turned away from God toward the end of his life, with only a suggestion in Ecclesiastes that he made things right before he died? Our Sunday school lessons don’t bring those parts of the story forward. We don’t cut them from our Bibles, but they aren’t usually the lesson in Sunday school.

That’s the way humankind thinks, the way we write our history, even our Biblical history. But not God. His ways are not our ways. He has no problem showing the faults and foibles of His closest allies, of His greatest friend, of the people He calls His children. It’s one way we can know that God authored the Bible, not a smattering of humans who thought they’d make a history. Scripture is simply too different from the kind of histories we write.

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Published in: on October 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm  Comments Off on The Different Way God Records History  
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