Investigating the Bible: Held aloft by the perfection of compassion


In 1965, southern states would not air the television show, “I Spy,” because the leading actors were Bill Cosby acting as an equal with the very white Robert Culp. I remember as a Midwestern youth when my African-American tennis coach, a kind and gentle man, took us to dinner in a restaurant at the end of the season. We asked him if he took his family here. His face dropped in sadness. “I’ve tried,” he said. “But my wife is white and people make mean comments.” Racism thrived when Jesus walked the earth. His responses, both by actions and words, can help us today.

His actions. Jesus spent most of his life with people who society dismissed or despised. His disciples were mostly uneducated laborers. He dined with tax collectors who were hated traitors because of their cooperation with the Romans. He had compassion for beggars, unclean lepers, and the demon-possessed. He befriended prostitutes and some became his followers. He ignored accepted protocols. Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the local well. She had been married and divorced multiple times and was living with a man out of marriage. Jesus offended her with his request for help. She said, “….’How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans).” (John 4:9, English Standard Version used throughout).

His words. Jesus frequently selected representatives from the despised classes as the heroes of faith. One was a centurion, a Roman commander of one hundred soldiers. The man owned a beloved slave, who was dying. He had Jewish elders ask Jesus for help. Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof…But say the word, and let my servant be healed.’ When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’” (Luke 7:4-9). The centurion’s slave was healed.

Jesus taught that our beliefs can blind us. “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore, be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” (Luke 11:34-35). The Greek word translated as “healthy” meant without defect or illness. A serious eye disorder can impair or completely block vision.

A change of mind is required. The apostle Paul directed believers to “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:3).

Adam Makos in the book he co-wrote, “A Higher Call,” tells the true story of Dec. 20, 1943. A German ace pilot, Franz Stigler, intercepted a lone B-17 American bomber attempting to leave German air space for the safety of England. He couldn’t believe the bomber was still flying, with only half an elevator, shot full of holes, and the nose of the airplane nearly gone. With full ammunition, he put his finger on the trigger to blast his enemy from the air. He paused when he saw the dead rear gunner. Through a gaping hole in the fuselage, he saw Americans treating an unconscious, bleeding airman, and then he knew why the others had not “hit the silk” of parachutes. Early in the war, his German squadron leader commanded him to never fire at a parachuting American pilot: “You fight by rules to keep your humanity!” And he remembered his faith in God and the rosary always in his vest pocket. So he changed. Franz escorted the decimated B-17 out of German air space. More than forty years later, the two pilots would meet and become as close as brothers.

David Carlson Pastor (yes, that is his last name, not his profession) is a Polk County resident and graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary in Minnesota (M.Div.)



No tax collector would have dined with Jesus. This is Roman propaganda … Rome accepts a peace maker. Goes along with the saying, “Render unto Caesar….” Yeah, candy to Roman ears!

The story about the woman at the well … well! According to Bart Ehrman (PhD, former Chair of Religion, UNC-Chapel Hill) said that the story is in no Bible extant until 1,000 years after the Bible tells us Jesus died. It’s forgery.

The healing of a slave is more Roman propaganda: be friends with Rome and you will live.

Some Buddhist and maybe 12th Egyptian Dynasty stuff in here.

Speaking of Paul … the Bible says he is from two places. One of the disciples said he’s from one side of the Sea of Galilee but the town is on the other side of the sea. Nazareth did not exist prior to 70 CE; no archaeological findings. One farm was found there after 70 CE.

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