Factual Vs. Actual

After reading about 100 pages of John Piper’s “Desiring God,” I can firmly say that I have ingested and digested all of his thinking that I want to swallow. I understand the kernel at the core of his argument, and I don’t think there’s anything left of what he says that I want to learn.

When I was perhaps sixteen or seventeen years old, my spirit was torn between two ideas. I was becoming enamored with the idea of analytical thinking and science, and those things still guide my worldview today. Having been raised Lutheran, with two Godparents that were born into a different time and different worldview, however, meant that my spiritual journey up to that point was fairly conservative in terms of how the Bible was to be read and interpreted. At the very least, I will say that my Godparents knew little of science; I once struggled to explain the concept of evolution to my Grandmother, and to no avail. So in some ways, those two ideas seemed to collide in my mind, and to a boy of that age, it seemed like a binary choice.

Enter Pastor Jim Bartsch, stage right. Of every church leader I have ever known, Pastor Bartsch was easily the most influential to me. He was a kind old man, with a few strands of translucent white hair. He was generous, grandfatherly, and listened more than he spoke. More than all of those things, though, he was wizened. He had been brought up in the seminary during a time of great upheaval on this earth. He’d served in the Navy during World War II, and seen much of the world. He brought quiet, relaxed passion and good humor with him wherever he went. And he helped me understand the most important lesson I have ever learned:

Just because something isn’t literally factual doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be rereading and exploring in depth a seminal book, which was recommended to me by Pastor Bartsch all those years ago. Marcus Borg, who died in 2015, published in 2001 the book “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time.” This book meant a lot to me when I was younger, and it’s time now to see if, through my renewed lens of faith, it can still help me reconcile some of my thoughts.


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