The Highest Claim

officer_with_a_laughing_girl-small
“Officer with a Laughing Girl”
Johannes Vermeer 1632-1675
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Every message comes in the context of a special story. Every story comes with a message. I am your message. I am your special story. ♪”When God dips His pen of love in my heart and writes my soul a message He wants me to know,♪” is my favorite Allison Krauss song. Part of Alison Krauss’ incontestable talent is how effortlessly she bridges the gap between roots music and country, rock and pop. I had the opportunity to catch her stunning live performance at the fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA, in 2011.

>>>I need a transition here between a special story and forms of literature>>>

If my poems and stories, whether secular or religious, religious meaning I don’t care much for the secular, are reliable and based on evidence, then they are classified as historical literature. I love historical stories of antiquity, even though fictitious folklore, bizarre myths, and embellished legends have their place in literature.

“The Highest Claim”
There was a man
sent from God
who’s name was, I AM
I AM was the Son of God
who is a God
who made a claim
the highest claim, I AM
– Stacy Sweeney

“The New Testament is easily the best attested ancient writing in terms of the sheer number of documents, the time span between the events and the document, and the variety of documents available to sustain or contradict it. There is nothing in ancient manuscript evidence to match such textual integrity.”
– Ravi Zacharias
‘Can Man Live without God’

I admire the integrity found in scripture. After 30 years of comparing the writings of Luke with his own archaeological findings, Sir William Ramsay declared, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy…this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”
-Subodh K. Pandit

In the weight of evidence of Luke’s gospel account, Luke writes, “Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you.” Luke 1:1-3, Tyndalle NIV. Likewise, I have decided to write an account of the who’s and when’s, like a professional, licensed nurse, charting at her desk.

Norman Geisler wrote that Luke named 32 countries, 54 cities, and nine islands without error. Why do I dumb myself down?

“The principle of verifiability suggests that if there were two conflicting claims which could not be assessed directly, but they did have indirect factors which could be evaluated, then those indirect factors could be used as a test, and the claim attached to such a verifiable factor would rise in credibility.”
– Subodh K. Pandit
‘The Weight of Evidence’

Historical literature, like the New Testament for example, is an indirect, verifiable factor in our course of the ordinary into the abstract claims about the nature of God. The closer I approach to the event, the greater the credibility. I like to be inside the story. Can I get any closer than that?

As a community, our goal is to state the story, your story, my story, our story as it really happened between the occurrence of that event and the manuscript. The challenge is to evaluate the mysterious with means within our reach.

While in New Orleans for Christian Community Development’s (CCDA) 2013 Cultivate Conference, I wanted to try a vanilla bean snow cone from “one of the premier local legends in the snowball business today.” Actually, legends cannot be established in the same generation as the event because the time required to develop a legend usually runs into centuries. Sorry, Hansen, you’re not yet a legend; you’re still pretty fresh. Hansen’s Sno Bliz, opened in 1939 by Ernest Hansen himself, who invented the Sno-Bliz machine that shaves blocks of ice. Today, the store is run by Ernest’s granddaughter, Ashley Hansen, who created her own line of syrups, sweetened with cane sugar, and she currently serves 40 house-made flavors. “You should expect a 20-30 minute wait in line at Hansen’s – it’s sort of a G-rated local happy hour scene.”
-Top 5 New Orleans Snowball Stands|Retrieved October 16, 2015, from http://www.neworleans.com/restaurants/best-new-orleans-snowball-stand/#,ViEQpicX33U

My groom ordered a ginger-cayenne for himself, and a vanilla bean snowball for me, and as we drove off into the city’s French Quarter, I took my first bite of vanilla bean, and it was quiet flavorful. I sniffed the air and said I could smell that strong cayenne in my nostrils. I took a few more bites of my vanilla bean, then wiped my nose and lips clean, and said to my groom boldly, “Your snow cone is so strong that I can taste it in my mouth all the way over here!”

My groom reached over the 80 year old snow bliz legend to taste my mysterious snow ball and validated that I indeed had a mixed up snowball; half cayenne on bottom, half vanilla bean on top. Mistakes happen. But not Luke. True affection overlooks many mistakes. True love does not discern them.

One reason for this journey into historical writing is to find out the credentials claimed by the man I plan to follow, hopefully for the rest of my life. I’m now thinking of my second favorite Allison Krauss’ song, ♪”Now that I Found You.”♪ What does he really believe of himself, deep in his heart? My highest claim is that I have two healing hands. What is your highest claim?

The claim of Jesus dazzles me out of this world. Claims made by the founding fathers of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism were all certain ordinary, finite, human claims. But Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and he used the most peculiar and unique words, I AM. Jesus brought himself. He brought the message. He was the message!

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