According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Friday, September 7, 2012

Trying to Imagine the Age of the Bible in Our Contemporary Present

Long, Long Ago, in a Land Far, Far Away…. (What I’m Saying is the Bible is Really, Really Old)
 
by Peter Enns
August 28, 2012
 
This is the eve of a significant event in Jewish history. 2532 years ago tomorrow, August 29, 520 BC, according to Haggai 1:1, God gave the command to rebuild Israel’s temple, destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC.
 
That’s a long time ago, is all I’m saying.
 
Think about it. Just 1/5 of this length of time takes us way back to about 1500, the days when Europeans were just staring to explore (and exploit) the known world by ship and people still thought the earth was the center of the cosmos.
 
If we were transported back to those days, only 500 years ago, many of us would probably be dead within a week, unable to negotiate the dos and don’ts of daily life.
 
Take just half of 2532 years and we are back in the mid-8th century. Vikings began invading Europe, the stuff of legends. Paper was introduced to the Arabs by the Chinese.
 
We live in a world where huge numbers are thrown around daily: trillions upon trillions of dollars of national debt, billions upon billions of galaxies each containing billions upon billions of stars, trillions of cells in the human body. We can’t wrap are heads around numbers that large, but they are part of our daily consciousness.
 
With numbers that large floating in our heads, we tend to forget how large numbers like 500 years, or 1000 years, or 2532 years are when seen from the point of view of our daily human experience.
 
So, Haggai began urging his countrymen to rebuild the temple over 25 centuries ago. 100 years, 25 times.
 
Imagine living to be a hundred–and doing that over and over again 25 times. Frankly, I have a hard time truly “experiencing” in my minds’s eye what just one 100-year span looks like. I am currently watching Ken Burns’s excellent series The Civil War, with photographs of soldiers, wives, children, slaves, buildings, and farmland 150 years old. I am taken by the profundity of how much time has elapsed, how foreign this world is to mine.
 
And the Israelites began rebuilding their temple 2532 years ago.
 
This bit of the human drama will forever remain outside of my capacity to comprehend. The distance of it all. I cannot get inside of it. I remain a foreigner to this ancient landscape, and outsider looking in.
 
I guess my point is this. It seems many of us, myself included, can get a bit careless, even cavalier, about the Bible, thinking that we “get it” because we happen to read it regularly in our native tongue. Perhaps we should regain a sense of respect for the distance this book has travelled to land on our coffee tables and work desks.
 
Perhaps we should remember that in the Bible we are coming face to face with a very foreign (and small) slice of the human drama–with customs, habits, a whole consciousness, that we do not share–and so we should be respectful enough not to claim for ourselves too great a familiarity.
 
We can study it and even teach it, as I do. But we kid ourselves if we think we control it.
 
Perhaps we can try to keep that in mind when we disagree over what it means. We are all on foreign soil.
 
 
 
 

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