I present here the Einstein puzzle. It is said that you have to be a genius to solve it. If you use pure memory, then it is true. But if you make a diagram using colored pencils you should be able to solve it within half an hour. A few organizational skills are necessary. It helps to write out the remaining paired categories from the hints and then use the process of elimination.
I gave this to my high school English classes today to work on. Within 20 minutes, a few had figured out the order and color of the houses and a few other details. Some immediately jumped to a conclusion. They gave the wrong answer wanting me to tell them if their “guess” was correct. I told then they needed to show how they arrived at their answer, to show their work. I also told them I hadn’t solved the puzzle yet, so I couldn’t tell them the answer. Later, in the day it took me about 20 minutes to figure it out.
Supposedly, Albert Einstein wrote this riddle, and said 98% of the world could not solve it.
There are 5 houses in 5 different colors. In each house lives a man with a different nationality. The 5 owners drink a certain type of beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar, and keep a certain pet. No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar or drink the same beverage.
The question is: “Who owns the fish?”
The Brit lives in the red house.
The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
The Dane drinks tea.
The green house is on the left of the white house.
The green house’s owner drinks coffee.
The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
The man living in the center house drinks milk.
The Norwegian lives in the first house.
The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
The man who keeps the horse lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer.
The German smokes Prince.
The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.
There are no tricks, pure logic will get you the correct answer. And yes, there is enough information to arrive at the one and only correct answer. If you think you know the answer, but are not sure, you haven’t solved the puzzle correctly. Once you solve it, you will know every color of every house, who lives in each house, what each man drinks and smokes, and which pets each owns.
So what has this to do with discerning Gospel truths?
It occurred to me while doing the puzzle that the five houses in Einstein’s riddle are a lot like the four Gospels. We are given hints in each Gospel that answer many questions as to the one reliable historical narrative of Truth. It’s necessary to look at the parts from different books to form a whole picture. I recently showed how one may demonstrate that the Apostles James and John were the first cousins of Jesus using isolated hints from four separate Gospels to come to this remarkable conclusion.
This method of comparing scripture with scripture revealed a truth that helps explain several other puzzles, such as why John is singled out as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and why according to Old Testament law did Jesus require John to take care of Mary as he would his own mother.
One may ask: Why didn’t the Gospel writers simply say: “Now James and John were Jesus’ first cousins”?
The answer to this question is found in Isaiah 28:10-13
“Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.”
For with stammering lips and another tongue
He will speak to this people,
To whom He said, “This is the rest with which
You may cause the weary to rest,”
And, “This is the refreshing”;
Yet they would not hear.
But the word of the Lord was to them,
“Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little,”
That they might go and fall backward, and be broken
And snared and caught.
The method of interpreting the Bible requires that we know the whole Bible and let scripture interpret scripture. God dispenses truth as He sees fit. When encountering Bible difficulites, we have to understand that there are no short cuts or trick questions. There are also no contradictions, but many Bible difficulties. The reason why the difficulties are there is so that we may discover the self-authenticating truth of scripture.
The four evangelists wrote in such a way that when we search for agreement in passages that seem disparate, most of the time we will find a harmony of the Gospels that transcends what four human beings writing independently could have concocted. This harmony is placed there for two reasons:
1. The harmony of the Gospels shows us the reality of the divine and supernatural inspiration of scripture.
2. The harmony of the Gospels also points us to which books belong to the canon by virtue of the fact that they are self-authenticating.
Men wrote scripture, but the Holy Spirit directed them in such a way that there is no complete picture of the truth in any one narrative or letter. In putting the pieces of the puzzle together, we are left with the strong impression that these men did not conspire to create a puzzle for us to solve. Instead the Holy Spirit has revealed mysteries to those who will bother to search some of the “difficult passages” for a harmony.
The Higher Critics are like my students who wanted to use conjecture to immediately jump to a wrong conclusion. Liberals use the modern tools of criticism to interpret scripture, but in analyzing the parts they miss the whole. Jesus said it best when he criticized the experts in the Law in His own day, “You strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel.”
The skeptics are like those students of mine who insisted that the puzzle could not be solved or was too difficult to be solved. Since they reject inspiration from the outset, the Higher Critics are blind to the marvelous pattern of scripture in which truth becomes self-authenticating.
For instance, I wrote recently about the self-authenticating quality of the book of Acts. The narrative begins with a sermon preached by Peter to a crowd of thousands of Jews who had come from all over the world to visit Jerusalem on the feast of Pentecost. The converts who heard Peter’s sermon were the very ones who purportedly returned to their cities a few years later after being scattered during persecution. These were the people who would have been able to confirm the account of Acts 2 as genuine and accurate.
If the Book of Acts were not authentic and reliable, it immediately would have been perceived as pseudepigrapha by the purported eyewitnesses. In other words, if the men who witnessed the miracle of Pentecost had not returned to their own cities and founded churches, then there would exist only those in these same churches who would be able to reject these stories as unreliable. The very fact that the book of Acts was accepted and quoted by the earliest of the church fathers as scripture proves that eyewitnesses existed who confirmed the accounts.
The scenario proposed by the skeptics is that the Book of Acts was written under a pseudonym many years after the events. But this begs the question: Why would a man calling himself Luke, a companion of Paul, write an unreliable history and deliver it to people who would be in an immediate position to recognize it as spurious? Did the eyewitnesses of first century Christianity not live within the context of their own history or did they simply appear for a time convenient to the critics’ scenario and then vanish into thin air?