The Great Minds

Once upon a time there was a Land with Many Great Minds. They devoted themselves to a Huge Book, which had been written and edited by Hundreds of People over thousands of years.

The Huge Book

The Huge Book

The Huge Book told how those hundreds of writers and editors understood God and the other People of the Land. The Book contained stories of the People when they were strong and victorious. The Book told stories of the People when they were defeated and scorned. Sometimes the Book gave the official account, and sometimes it told what really happened. The Book contained stories about the Kings, the Reformers, the Intellectuals, the Poor and Rich, and the Villains and Heroes of the Land.

The Great Minds and their Truth Systems

Now each of the Great Minds wanted the People now living in the Land to understand the Huge Book.  Each Great Mind wrote books explaining the Huge Book. These books were called Truth Systems. The Great Minds devoted much of their lives to composing these Systems.  Sometimes they loved their work, and sometimes they hated it, as the Huge Book predicted. A Truth System demonstrated the prowess and mastery of the Great Mind who produced it.

Some Great Minds had Truth Systems based on as few as 8 or 9 Essential Verses in the Huge Book. Other Great Minds had Systems based on as many as 85 to 100 Essential Verses.

The Contests

Sometimes the Great Minds would have a contest to see whose System was best. Sometimes these contests got out of hand. When that happened, people were sometimes badly hurt.  The People didn’t like that. To avoid this problem, the Great Minds created new contests, and some of them suggested less violent Criteria for judging the winners.

  • First, a Truth System that accounted for more Verses was better than one accounting for fewer.
  • Second, a Truth System with fewer internal contradictions was better than one with more.
  • Third, a Truth System which could explain away Essential Verses that contradicted it’s own was better than one which could not.
  • Fourth, a Truth System which could logically explain the most faults and contradictions in other Truth Systems was better.
  • Fifth, a system that could defend itself against the most criticisms of the other Systems was better than others.
  • Sixth, an older Truth System that was supported by many Great Minds was better than a newer one supported by fewer Great Minds.

Thus, each Truth System was based on many Verses, was free from Internal Contradictions, could explain away Key Verses that threatened it’s internal logic, could defend itself against the criticisms of other Truth Systems, and was Old and supported by many Great Minds.

The Problem and the Solution

Some Great Minds saw a big problem: each of the Truth Systems still contradicted the other Truth Systems, and the Minds could not make their words agree.  Some of them said to themselves, “We have 36 Truth Systems developed by Great Minds, and each Truth System meets the Key Tests for Internal, Logical Consistency. There are many areas of agreement, but no systems agree perfectly. Each Truth System contradicts other Truth Systems.” They came to a conclusion.

“Whereas we see that the Internal, Logical Consistency of the Truth Systems proves nothing except the prowess and mastery of the Great Minds that created them; and

“Whereas understanding the history of God’s dealings with the People of the Land is not necessarily enhanced nor effectively communicated by the Great Minds and their Truth Systems; and

“Whereas People sometimes get hurt during the contests between the Great Minds;

“Therefore, we must be wary of placing too much emphasis on the Truth Systems developed by Great Minds. We must individually decide how much valuable time and energy we will devote to understanding the Truth Systems, and we must decide to what degree we will allow the Truth Systems to divide us from other people in the Land.”

The People of the Land did well

And the People who believed in the Huge Book and followed the Truth Systems did well. They loved other people, despite their differences. They helped the poor and needy. They were patient with people who troubled them. Many of them lived by the most important rules in the Huge Book, even though most of them had not read it.

And the People who ignored the Huge Book and the Truth Systems did well, too.  They loved other people, despite their differences. They helped the poor and needy. They were patient with people who troubled them. Many of them lived by the most important rules in the Huge Book, even though most of them had not read it.

The Great Minds did well

The Great Minds did well, too. They never did agree, but were allowed to pursue their hobbies and hold their contests in peace. They learned not to hurt one another, and hardly any of the People got hurt at the contests.

And they all lived happily after.


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About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
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2 Responses to The Great Minds

  1. Joanie H. says:

    A nice read, but as our pastor says:”We must all become the peace we want to exist.” If we cling to legalisms, and use them to trump grace, mercy, love and forgiveness, then the great minds will have failed again. It is only by life that love can enter the world. And it is only by becoming the peace we envision can our love be spread. We must be able to take multiple blows and not return evil for evil. There is something in human nature that respects those with the courage to take abuse, yet refuse to bow down to it. It is the richest form of bravery – the bravery of faith that will not bend to adversity nor compromise with evil – even if the evil is in the name of God.


  2. Joanie H. says:

    One thing I am certain of here is that the small country with the many great minds was not the U.S. of A. nor most of Europe under the theocracy of the church (what we now call the Dark Ages).

    I am reminded that the Apostle Paul stated that he is “all things to all people” for the sake of their salvation. By this he did not mean hitting them over the head with a post 1946 version of the KJV, not judging them for not being what he expected of them. He did not demand adherence to the law, “for if salvation could be gained through the law then Christ died for nothing.”

    Yes, great minds can achieve great things, but they can also get to the point where too much knowledge paralyses the will, creating contradictions to any position one cares to cite. I prefer the KISS approach to my faith – and that is summed up in the two commandments that Jesus gave us. The first was to love God. The second was like the first, to love your neighbor as yourself. It is upon these two commandments that the law and the Prophets rest. Logic, as we deem it to be, does not play into faith all that well, and one must be able to observe what is natural and allow that God’s creation has been broken and that we are all cracked pots. If science, that is demonstrable and predictable, clashes with one’s faith, then perhaps one needs to judge less and trust God a bit more. One must always keep in mind that in a broken creation there will be broken people. I think that God pretty well sums up why we are not to judge others by Exodus 4:11; “11Then the Lord said to him, ‘Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”

    The New Testament tells us over and over again not to judge others, to pray for our enemies, to not judge another man’s servant. To be generous, soft spoken – to be the very ambassadors for Christ – by living as Christ lived. When I hear vicious words coming out of the mouths of those who teach repentance, hell-fire and brimstone from the hands of an angry God, then I wonder why God even bothered to send Christ into the world if we were to still be bound to Mosaic Law and legalisms? It isn’t like God didn’t love these people before they repented, and the very contradictions they display with this temperament hurts people. driving them away from God and oppressing with a form of godliness that denies the very power and words of God.


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