May 6, 2010

Colorado is rich in both aesthetic beauty and Western history. Approximately nine miles west of the town of Gunnison here in our beautiful state, there is a ghost town known as Irwin. Irwin today is a photographable relic, but at one time it was a bustling mining camp known as Ruby. It was called Ruby because of the particular type of silver ore that was mined in the area. It was of such a nature that when it was processed it had a blood red color. To this day that area of western Colorado is known as the Ruby Mining District. Hundreds of miners were staking claims and digging in the area around Ruby during the eighteen-eighties, but because of someone getting “stuck in the mud,” Ruby would be the site of one of the greatest discoveries in Colorado mining history.

In “Greybeard’s Colorado; or Notes on the Centennial State, describing a trip from Philadelphia to Denver and back, in the autumn and winter of 1881-1882,” on pages 81 and 82 he talks about the discovery of the Forest Queen and Rudy Camp mines. A freight wagon driver, W.A. Fisher, had driven an ox-team all the way from the Potomac area in Maryland to the Gunnison area in Colorado where he was to make a delivery stop in the Ruby mining camp. While there he ended up literally getting stuck in the mud. Fisher was helped out of his predicament by a passerby named O.P. Mace. For his kindness Fisher promised Mace that he would give him a “half-interest in the first mine that he found.” The promise quite possibly was made in jest, and Mace thought little of it at the time, but a few short days later he was rewarded $100,000 for his kindness to this stranger.

It seems that Fisher, while in town unloading went “prospecting.” Now, you have to remember that at the time Ruby was bustling with hundreds of prospectors combing the area for evidence of veins of silver and staking their claims. Fisher, who was not a miner, went out that day and stumbled upon one of the largest producing veins of ruby silver in Colorado history. He actually discovered two veins. One he named “The Forest Queen,” and the other he named “Ruby Camp.” Keeping to his word, he offered either to his new friend Mace. Mace took the “Ruby Camp” claim, and a few short days later, before Mace had even dug ten feet into the vein, he sold it for one hundred thousand dollars (in the 1880’s). A short while after that Fisher similarly sold his interest in the Forest Queen to a group of Colorado businessmen and lawyers. The Forest Queen mine has since produced millions upon millions of dollars of ruby silver ore, and continues in operation to this day.

Hundreds of miners had combed the same area, walked over and right past those same veins of silver, dug all around them, but no one ever discovered the rich treasures of the Forest Queen or Ruby Camp mines because they never recognized the veins and dug at the right places.

The truth of the matter is that the great treasures of the Word of God are much like that. All of the Word of God is the truth (John 17:17). Every verse from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 is divinely inspired (II Timothy 3:16), and as such is axiomatically inerrant (without error), but just like those hundreds of miners who walked right past those veins of silver of the Forest Queen and Ruby Camp mines, never seeing them, so too have so many sincere and devout men and women, theologians and scholars, walked right over the great treasures of the truth of God’s Word, never seeing them, because they have never dug at the right places, or used the right tools.

As I wrote in a previous article, “Consistency and Challenges,” the teachings of the majority of the world religions (i.e. Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Catholicism, Islam) remains consistent, nearly identical wherever you may travel in the world. Such is not the case however with Protestantism and Evangelical Christianity. Not only is Protestant and Evangelical Christian teaching not identical from church to church, or ministry to ministry, it is sometimes not even recognizable from street corner to street corner.

Biblical languages in light of biblical culture and expressions unique to the biblical peoples of the East is not taught, learned nor recognized, but rather a painstaking effort is continually made to alter the translation of the Scriptures to make it more easily understandable to the Western reader and fit with Western theologies. Great pains are taken to reform truth, than to reform men’s minds to recognize biblical truth.

Few have recognized nor been able to mine the great veins of truth from God’s Word because they begin digging with the tools of intellectualism, denominationalism, and biblical criticism, viewing the Scriptures through the filters and prisms of specific theological systems and denominational boundaries.

The Scriptures are the Word of truth, and as such they must be “rightly divided” (II Timothy 2:15) to mine out their treasures, and bring them to the surface, and harvest the truth of the Word. Scripture must be honestly and logically handled, first and foremost being viewed from a recognition and appreciation of its divine authorship and inerrancy. The mining for truth must never begin wearing the blinders of denominational boundaries, dogmas, and creeds, which only serves to substantiate those same boundaries, dogmas, and creeds.

The scriptures are not to be ‘used’ to prove or substantiate men’s deeply held beliefs, but rather ‘worked’ to recognize and understand the truth of the Word of God, that it might be believed and then held deeply. Men’s minds can then be reformed and adjusted accordingly.

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