With some of the more bizarre doctrines of the church, you have to laugh a little or you’d cry. Please don’t misunderstand this post to be about poking fun or mocking in any way. I assure you that I’m doing no such thing, and everything written here is written in love, and with the intent to enlighten and edify.
Can someone hold some wacky opinions and still fit into the paradigm of love under the New Covenant? Yes, no doubt. But elevating men and women to the status of being more revered and spiritual than anyone else just makes wacky opinions more likely. The thinking cap tends to get hung up on the rack gathering dust.
Let me just admit here that there are a number of doctrines I once held myself that I now consider to be a little wacky. I am not laughing at those who hold seemingly odd doctrines, because I am not immune to believing odd things from time to time myself. I am pretty sure some of you think my beliefs right now to be fairly odd. 🙂
So with what is hopefully a tasteful balance between the seriousness of the subject and the oddness of it all, it’s my hope that taking a step back and looking at some of the more unconventional doctrines that have been taught over the years will help to solidify in someone’s mind that the church has embraced teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
“Dinosaurs never existed”
Let’s dive right into the subject of dinosaurs, and stipulate what we can agree on:
- The earth is not millions of years old
- Neither man nor animal evolved from one species to another
- We don’t know what the soft tissure of most dinosaurs looked like
- Some authors and illustrators have taken liberties with the appearance of dinosaurs
Now let’s establish clearly what I believe is a little bizarre: the church, from Merie’s earliest teachings, claims that dinosaurs never existed. That’s right. All the skeletons and fossils we’ve seen and touched are part of one big conspiracy.
My son volunteers for a fledgling Christian museum that actually owns numerous complete dinosaur skeletons and bones of various sizes, including a tibia that is about four feet long. I’ve seen it and touched it myself. It is foolishness to deny the existence of dinosaurs, which I believe God created on the same day as all the other animals.
Denying the existence of dinosaurs merely because the “millions of years” timeline asserted by paleontologists is wildly incorrect makes no sense whatsoever. It’s akin to the Catholic church arguing with Galileo about the world being spherical based on a few out-of-context verses. As Christians, we cannot accept everything the scientific establishment tries to shove down our throats, because modern science is full of political and ideological bias nowadays, but that doesn’t mean we should bury our heads in the sand and ignore solid science about the world we live in. We have to think critically…both about science and our own assumptions about what the Bible teaches.
There are entire Christian organizations of published scientists who believe as we do that the earth was created by God a relatively short 6 to 10,000 years ago, not millions of years ago. They still acknowledge the undeniable existence of dinosaurs as should all thinking people. There are great resources for children and adults to learn more about dinosaurs from a Biblical perspective.
So where did the dinosaurs go? I think humans hunted them and killed them to protect their families and villages, and whatever they didn’t kill off, the flood took care of. In fact, most of the fossil record is likely from the great flood. Soft tissue animals like the jellyfish in Wisconsin could not have been buried over thousands or millions of years, because they would have rotted before becoming fossilized. No, they were buried instantly in a catastrophic mudslide; i.e. Noah’s flood.
“Mankind never landed on the moon”
Let me make an educated guess on something. I think Merie probably predicted in the 60’s that man would never land on the moon. When it happened in 1969, she had to cast doubt on it. Her bizarre belief that man would never reach the moon was apparently based on a faulty exegesis of this passage from Paul’s speech on Mars Hill:
Acts 17:26 – And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.
This is a clear example illustrating why we can’t take someone’s words and read into them meanings that they never intended.
I could be wrong about Merie making a prediction of a failed moon landing, but I know she was actively teaching in the 50’s and 60’s. I would find it strange if she hadn’t predicted a moon landing failure, if that’s what she believed the verse meant. Either way, several sources have confirmed that Merie did indeed teach in the 70’s that man “probably” never landed on the moon, and that the whole thing was likely one big hoax.
The odd part of this is that I remember clearly my parents being glued to the TV on a rebroadcast of the moon landing. (I thought at the time it was a live broadcast, but in retrospect, since I was only one when the moon landing occurred, I’m assuming it was an anniversary special.) I don’t even recall any negative comments about it being suspicious.
So what does that passage in Acts really mean? That requires us to look more at the context, and I think it will also help to shed the King’s grammar for a moment:
Acts 17:24-28 – “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.'”
Basically, Paul is addressing a group of pagans who had an altar to the “Unknown God” (in case they had forgotten one in their pantheon of deities). He is making the point that the true God, the Creator, made the world and everything in it. He created the nations from one man, Adam, and oversaw the whole of human history, including when certain nations would rise to power, and what nations they would conquer. He was clearly not giving us a science lesson on whether man will ever land on the moon or not. Can we agree on that?
A word about Merie’s “special insight”
Merie believed she was more spiritual than her followers, and as such, had “special insight” that the rest did not have. She did believe her followers would “advance” beyond her eventually. Let me stipulate here that I haven’t heard any evidence that she claimed direct inspiration or a vision of any sort. But she didn’t have to. She built up the trust of her followers that she had information or spiritual insight they didn’t. That was enough.
Several who were around at the time have reported that her words in response to questions about why she believed something so strongly were something to the effect of “you wouldn’t believe it if I told you,” or “you couldn’t handle it.” Even stopping short of claiming visions from God after the manner of Ellen G. White or Mary Baker Eddie, we can see in hindsight that this claimed “special insight” was destructive to the movement she started. It created a dependency among her followers, and an undying trust in a fallible person that is hard to sever, even to this day. No doubt, her claim of deep spiritual wisdom is one of the reasons the above strange doctrines were accepted so easily by her followers.