April 2021

Tubal-Cain

Tubal-Cain is not the most widely known person in the Bible, even to keen Bible students. But he does play a part, though not a worthy one, in the 2014 film “Noah”.

Films are notorious for taking real characters and depicting them in a way that suits the film maker, not letting the facts get in the way of a good film. There is no indication of his character in the one reference to him in the Bible:

Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.   Genesis 4:22

Even those of you who did already know who he was might be unaware that there is a statue of him – and it’s right here in Edinburgh, in Nicolson Square, about a mile from our church building. It was built for the 1886 International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art, and was the exhibit of the Edinburgh and Leith Brass Founders: Tubal-Cain was the first brass worker.
Tubal-Cain
The makers of “Noah” could not be accused of unconscious bias. They openly admitted they chose Tubal-Cain to represent all that was wrong with the world in Noah’s time because he was a descendant of Cain, the first murderer. But as noted above we have no idea what Tubal-Cain the person was really like.

Unconscious bias has been defined as:
Unconscious biases, also known as implicit biases, are the underlying attitudes and stereotypes that people unconsciously attribute to another person or group of people that affect how they understand and engage with a person or group.

The Royal Society has a very good short video clip about unconscious bias:


This week the Commonwealth War Graves Commission admitted it had been guilty of unconscious (or was it conscious?) bias; they did not treat soldiers from foreign countries who were killed in the First World War with the same recognition as British soldiers. And now, 100 years later, they’re doing something about it.


After his experience with Cornelius the Roman centurion, Peter appreciated that he had been unconsciously biased about who was acceptable to God:

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”    Acts 10:34 and 35

And us? We are not immune either. The first step is to be aware of it and then to make a conscious effort not to let it influence how we react to people. That’s not easy. It took a vision from God for Peter to realise it. We have the benefit of hindsight, but too often our eyesight and our thinking can be blinkered. But God wants us to have open eyes, open brains and open hearts:

Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will listen.   
Isaiah 32:3

I [Paul] keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…   Ephesians 1:17 and 18

DMcH

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Faith and Truth

A friend asked if a tree falling over in a distant wood made a noise because if no one heard it how could we know it was true. I would argue that this is a matter of faith but that the evidence strongly supports the belief that it truly would make a noise.

He suggested that in many ways it was hard to be certain and consequently there was no such thing as definitive truth, each person’s truth is likely to be different. This is quite probable even in simple matters but when it comes to belief (in Gods existence, the truth of what is written in the Bible, in miracles, that God hears our prayers and the resurrection of Jesus) it is not hard to understand that what people consider to be truth is so disparate. Let’s face it what we as Christians believe in faith seems completely incredible if not impossible. It is small wonder that we have doubts and so many others dismiss God as being a fabrication.

We must thank God that we have paused to reflect on what is true and ask questions. Personally, in my late teens and early twenties I considered several philosophies and religions and decided that I had to question the existence of God if I was not going to believe in Him. I did not belong to a religious family but through various sources worked to disprove Christianity in particular. It is written that if we seek we will find.

I do not believe for one minute that I have understood and found everything that is true, accepting that each person’s truth is likely to be different and that we will all be amazed on the day when all truth will be made known to us. We see things through a glass darkly. We can never PROVE God, we are only able to accept Him through faith. The finite mind trying to understand the infinite is pathetic but we can trust like little children and accept God’s love for us. We must learn to have faith enough to understand our hope, our relationship with our Father and must have the utmost confidence in our salvation through Jesus.

However, that salvation depends totally on one thing. We might historically know that Christ lived, was tortured and died on the cross but unless the improbable, the impossible, happened, unless Christ was resurrected our faith is all in vain.

I found Jesus while trying to disprove him, and another man came to the realisation that Christ was raised while setting out to write a book to deny it. “
Who Moved the Stone” a book by Frank Morrison has probably already been read by many but is in my opinion well worth reading. While we may not agree with everything he says (truth is not definitive) the evidence, (which must be considered if our faith is to be propped up,) is well presented and while it may not seem as strong as the sound of a distant falling tree is nevertheless compelling.

Ephesians 2v8 “By grace you are saved through faith”. Jesus said to Thomas as he says to us, the doubters of today “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed”. Remember and believe that through Jesus we can be forgiven, we can be helped in our disbelief. Through Jesus we can hold on to the seemingly unbelievable yet undeniable fact that whatever or wherever our heavenly Father is, the supreme, omnipotent life and law giver not only exists but also loves us.

PG
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