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Sharing Scripture — August 5, 2023

The Mystery of the Gospel

 

For use: July 30 – August 5, 2023

 

In light of recent allegations, Stanford University’s latest mysteries stand exposed.

The president of Stanford University, Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, has resigned after an investigation found that many of the neuroscientist’s data presented in academic papers and articles were less than accurate. The investigation kicked off after an award-winning Stanford student journalist took a deep dive into Tessier-Lavigne’s writings and reported his findings in The Stanford Daily.

This is not the first time the university enveloped itself in scandal. Scandal surrounding the school’s management stems back to the days of its founding by Leland and Jane Stanford, who opened the university in honor of their son.

Per Stanford University’s homepage, the couple founded the historic school “on a bedrock of societal purpose” with the mission of “contributing to the world by educating students for lives of leadership and purposeful contribution; advancing fundamental knowledge and cultivating creativity; and accelerating solutions and amplifying their impact.”

That sounds good and well, but it very nearly wasn’t the case.

In fact, the school nearly fell apart at the foundation.

It’s speculated that the money invested into the university may have not been Leland’s to invest, and the purpose not so much for practical skill development, suggests historian Richard White in his revealing tell-all Who Killed Jane Stanford? A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits, and the Birth of a University.

According to White, upon Leland’s death, Jane quickly needed to get the school and its crumbling finances in order. She opened up the school to women, but as her deeply held beliefs in spiritualism (and other personal eccentricities) began dictating her business decisions, the former First Lady of California came close to only offering spiritual studies … and banning women altogether.

Mrs. Stanford was subsequently dispatched by strychnine, and the murder was covered up by Stanford University’s founding president David Starr Jordan and his allies who hoped to keep the school alive. However, the commission of the murder cannot be definitively linked to them, and the crime remains unsolved. Furthermore, to this day, the peculiarities of Mrs. Stanford’s personal life aren’t something the university boasts about.

All that to say that the university has always been shrouded in mystery, much of it stemming from its gender and academic inclusiveness … and nearly lack thereof.

A mystery perhaps even more scandalous during its day revealed itself about 2,000 years ago. The revelation was so scandalous that it risked entire communities their safety. It was so earth-shattering that it was hidden from people’s understanding until the resurrection of Jesus Christ (although some who saw Him still doubted, thus sayeth Matthew 28:17). Yet, the entire Bible points toward the revealing of this mystery.

For those of us who need it spelled out, Paul explains it plainly in Ephesians 3. That is, everyone shares in the grace of God, in the salvation offered by Christ Jesus.

Christ died for all, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, all of whom should now no longer live by such divisive boundaries but as one unit, as the body of Christ (Galatians 3:28).

Although not exactly earth-shattering today, during Paul’s day it was nearly unbelievable. And even more surprising than equal access to Christ’s grace was that while we were still sinners lacking righteousness and godliness, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).

The Creator of the universe dying for a lost people is the greatest mystery of all. How will you respond?

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: How do you feel about being given a gift so large that you know you don’t deserve it? Like someone giving you a new car, or an expensive vacation, or a house?

Sharing: Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne is accused of manipulating data, which investigators say is more common in academic research than we realize. What is your take on it?

  1. All data is manipulated because it must conform to the Scientific Method, to test a hypothesis
  2. Its common occurrence is probably accidental, due to subsurface bias
  3. Its absolutely inexcusable
  4. Nothing in this life is certain except death and taxes
  5. We are limited by finite knowledge and limited thinking patterns, so its not surprising data is not always compiled/analyzed in the most objective fashion
  6. Other

Now consider supposed clerical/scribal errors in the Bible. Take the answer you selected in response to the above prompt and apply it to a seeming Biblical inconsistency. Do you still feel comfortable with that answer? Why or why not?

Applying: Can you explain the mysteries of God to someone who doesn’t know God? Discuss with your small group and/or trusted peers.

Valuing: How does the revealed mystery of Ephesians 3 impact your life? Reflect on any subsurface prejudices you have that contradict the inclusiveness of the gospel message. How can Holy Spirit help you sand these down and refine your perspective on salvation and appreciation for God’s grace?

 

~ Stefani Leeper

 

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