According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, 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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: Reading Genesis After Darwin


I am posting here some random thoughts about the composition of Genesis relative to its literary and scientific structure from an archaeological point of view found in the article below but will leave it to the reader to draw out any important inferences that I noticed on a cursory reading. Let it suffice that when reading Genesis (as we would any portion of the Bible) that we do not let our "perceptions" or "biases" get in the way of seeing the biblical text for itself written and compiled by the Hebrews so many long years ago as noted by these several, albeit overly simplistic, and pedantic, questions:

Did God speak Hebrew? Or is it possible that God speaks all the languages of the world - even the ancient ones? Did Adam speak in Hebrew? Did Eve speak in Hebrew? If not, what language did Adam and Eve speak? Is Hebrew the oldest language of the world? Or were there other, much older languages that were spoken during the time of Genesis 1-11? Is it possible that the literary texts of Genesis were re-written in light of Hebrew beliefs and traditions? Or might we expect that there were much older beliefs and traditions that proceeded the Hebrew traditions that ran counter to the more informed, revelatory beliefs and traditions of the Hebrews? That within ancient near eastern lands there were older stories of creation, the flood, and migration of non-Hebrew cultures and societies throughout the Tigris-Euphrates region? Or, for that matter, throughout the lands of North Africa, to Asia Minor, to the Middle East, and eastwards and northwards towards Asia and beyond?

And to John Walton's important observation that the creation story of Genesis speaks to the "temple motif" of the bible (referring to the holiness of God's creative universe, of His sanctuary and place where we may commune with our Creator as He may with us) let us also note N.T. Wright's observation that Genesis also carries within it an "election motif" beginning with Adam and Eve and continuing to the line of Abraham that culminates in the covenants of God to Israel, and later the Church, written in the New Covenant of Christ's blood. (Please understand that the biblical theme of "election" does not refer to Calvinism's systematic theology of "election." The former is derived from a study of biblical theology; the latter from a systematic theological study of logical inferences made from biblical texts that conform to a self-defining set of  Protestant-Christian church traditions.... For more on this area please refer to the appropriate sidebars on this website such as election, universalism, covenants, salvation, etc.). We might also note themes of "protection" and "salvation" in stories about the "ark" of God (both Noah's watery Ark and in Israel's traditions of the Ark of the Covenant); themes of "guidance and subtenance" (both election and sovereignty) by God that resulted in Israel's formation and direction; themes of "remnant theology" speaking to the arisal of a specific people of God to tell God's story (or revelation) of love, providence, provision, and salvation; themes of holiness , righteous acts, and servanthood of God on behalf of His people; and the list may go on-and-on....

So that when reading Genesis we discover many important themes of God's attendance and involvement in the stories of mankind. In humanity's stories of personal redemption and salvation. In our stories of protection, election, guidance, and holiness. Not in mystical, magical ways but in the everyday narrative acts observed unnoticed around-and-about us (we call this synchronicity). From our music choices, to our habits and behaviors, to our activities and personal preferences, to our friends and experiences. Within this amazingly complex web of interpersonal engagement with our environment, with humanity, and within time itself God is constructing His personal story of love and redemption that reaches out to us. That would help us make sense of our time and purpose in this life we call myopically our own while little understanding or noticing that each of us is involved in the larger story of God's redemption cosmically, nationally, culturally, societally, personally, and even temporally. For this is the God who seeks us. Who calls out to us. Who does not tire in His patient love to us. Nor forget His election of creation to redeem and bind up sin's woes and miseries so prominent in our willful neglect, purpose, and imaginations.

Consequently, no one person is left unengaged by God. Each person is directed by the hands of the divine immortal Creator within this free-willed world towards apprehending his or her's larger scope and purpose in life. To deny God's presence in our lives is to deny the very spiritual air that we breathe. That we must breathe-in and breathe-out "God's Spirit" whether we admit it or not. For through Jesus has God said, "You are mine." And it is in Jesus' path of apprehending God that we must come if we are to know our Creator-Sustainer-Provider. Through faith. Through self-sacrificial trust and belief. Through actions divine and holy in giving ourselves to the Holy One of Israel and to the creative God of the cosmos. To obeying God's will and directive in our lives. To worship, praise, laud and glory the unfathomable One. To reach towards some thing - or some One - larger than ourselves. Larger than our meager plans and purposes in our self-consuming lives. To apprehend God through Jesus' presence and example, life and death, that recreates this world in partnership with God towards His plans and purposes. This is the story of creation. The real story of redemption. The story that matters. The narrative thread that runs through the tapestry of our lives.

Lastly, as regarding splicing biblical texts together please refer to these several articles here below to show that this is not a new observation. That the Genesis text has been "spliced" together from an array of sources to recreate a single running narrative theme (or theology) of mankind's story. A story both ancient and blessed, and filled with the Spirit of God's love, grace and mercy in our lives. Regardless of whether the splice came from a priestly source (P) or Yahwistic source (J) the story has been made one by latter day Hebrews around the time of the Second Temple Restoration (approx. c.587 B.C.) to tell us that God loves us and is actively engaged within this world as He is within our messed-up, imperfect lives. If God can create from the black tangle of cosmic void and chaos  (tahom) of this world we call Earth, let us not think that He cannot untangle the black void and chaos within our lives that we call us. It'll take courage and trust on our behalf to admit that without God all is chaotic and unfathomable within our lives. But in Christ Jesus may the light of a new dawn arise in our hearts-and-lives to remake what once was lost, found. Let this attitude and belief begin this day with bowed heads and knees, in the unshakable confidence, or conviction, that God must become our All-in-All both now, and forevermore. Amen.

R.E. Slater
September 19, 2012

Any Relevancy22 Sidebars under "Bible" or "Hermeneutics"

My JEDP Observations of Biblical Cultural Preservation
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
Book Description
 
 
Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species has changed the landscape of religious thought in many ways. There is a widespread assumption that before Darwin, all Christians believed that the world was created some 6,000 years ago over a period of 6 days. After Darwin, the first chapters of Genesis were either rejected totally by skeptics or defended vehemently in scientific creationism. This book tells a very different story. Bringing together contributions from biblical scholars, historians and contemporary theologians, it is demonstrated that both Jewish and Christian scholars read Genesis in a non-literal way long before Darwin. Even during the nineteenth century, there was a wide range of responses from religious believers towards evolution, many of them very positive. Stephen C. Barton and David Wilkinson argue that being receptive to the continuing relevance of Genesis today regarding questions of gender, cosmology, and the environment is a lively option.
 
 
 
Genesis — Its Internal Clues
 
Scot McKnight
September 19, 2012
 
 
Letting Genesis be Genesis is a challenge — from the creationist, who wants it to be compatible with science or science with it, to the naturalist-evolutionist, who wants to debunk the text from the outset as hocus pocus. Both ends of the spectrum claim they are reading Genesis well, but not all have paid sufficient attention to the internal clues in the text.

Walter Moberly, well known Old Testament specialist at Durham University in England, has the internal clues in mind when he writes “How Should One Read The Early Chapters of Genesis?,” in S.C. Barton and D. Wilkinson’s Reading Genesis after Darwin. What Moberly wants to do is let Genesis be Genesis and not what we’d like it to be.

What do you think of Moberly’s evidence for splicing?

Do you think division of labor indicates later date?

His basic conclusion is that the early chapters of Genesis reflect the splicing together of formerly separate stories so that, while the text reads well from chp 1 to 50, there are at times internal clues that various bits had different contexts originally. This view has become more and more acceptable to a wide range of evangelicals though some have to say so in hushed tones to those whom they trust. Nor should one dismiss that such a view does cut against the grain of what many believe about the Bible, though we must take a deep breath and say “I too want Genesis to be Genesis. So let’s see what it says.”

This question is not new. Origen was asking these very questions in the 3d Century AD, and he did not conclude what the conservative end of the spectrum today concludes. But I’m not concerned with Moberly’s quick sketch of Origen.

Instead of dipping into Genesis 1-3, Moberly begins with Cain and Abel. His big conclusion is that the text assumes a world that is already populated, suggesting then that it tells one major story — the need for obedience — in the categories of a world that does not assume Cain and Abel are the world’s first sons. In short, there are other people and cities around. Here are the texts:

Genesis 4:2 - “Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil…” assuming a division of labor.

Gen. 4:8 - Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” The assumption here is that it is safer to murder in the open field where no one else is around, the language and perspective a populated location.

Gen. 4:14 - Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Again, population assumed.

Moberly doesn’t quite draw this conclusion, but I would: this kind of description shows that at work already is the doctrine of election, so prominent later in Genesis but throughout the Bible: God was working with the line that would lead to Abraham. I heard Tom (N.T.) Wright say election is at work in God choosing Adam and Eve from others to be the ones [who would bear] the image of God [forwards]. (He did not claim that Packer fans are in the other line. It’s worth thinking about.)

He finds similar internal clues in the Noah flood story, like olive trees seemingly growing though they’ve been submerged for more than a year. Cain’s descendants, by the way, are pre- and post- flood and this goes against the grain of all but [only] Noah’s line surviving (Genesis 4:17-24).

Does God speak Hebrew? Did Adam speak in Hebrew? Is Hebrew the oldest language? Or, is this stuff re-writing in light of Hebrew beliefs and traditions?

Darwin, then, does not help us when it comes to the genre of Genesis but he may speak to the substance of what Genesis may or may not be about.
 
 
For Further Reference -
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Missions Projects: God's Vision for Haiti


 
 
 
Orphanage and Refuge Center in Les Cayes, Haiti
 
 
 
The heart of God's Vision For Haiti is the children of Haiti. GVFH's main goal is to build an orphanage / refuge center. In the last year, GVFH has made large strides in reaching this goal. With the help of our generous supporters, GVFH purchased a piece of land; the property was paid off in November, 2010. Now GVFH is focused on building a facility to accommodate up to 100 children. The refuge center will serve meals to children in the community who do not meet the criteria to reside at the orphanage, whose parents are unable to provide for their basic needs.
 
God's Vision For Haiti is in the process of networking, planning fundraising events to raise enough money to build and open the orphanage/refuge center.
 
This September, GVFH will begin the planning phase for this campus in collaboration with Engineering Ministries International (eMi). Professional design volunteers will accompany us to the acquired site in Les Cayes, Haiti to facilitate in site surveying, planning, and design. We will be able to address critical issues such as water, power supply, and waste water management. After many years of praying and seeking God's will, our home is finally beginning to take shape!


My neighbor and Founding Director, Juska Lazzarre
 
 
 How You Can Help
 
Would you like to get involved in God's Vision for Haiti? Here are some of the different ways you can help.
  • Pray for God's Vision for Haiti
  • Support the organization financially.
    You can donate here or you can mail your donation to:
    God's Vision for Haiti
    P.O. Box 8211
    Kentwood, MI 49518
  • Volunteer your time or talent.
    You can volunteer during one of our fundraising events to serve as a promoter, greeter, server, cook, etc. You can also volunteer to perform at one of our events.
  • Donate items/prizes including gift certificates to be included in a silent auction or raffle during our fundraising dinners.
  • Partner with us or organize a fundraising event on behalf of the organization.
 
 
Donate Online
 
To submit a one-time donation through PayPal, click the Donate button below and enter the amount on the subsequent page. Then, proceed through the rest of the PayPal screens to complete the process. You will have the option to return to our website.
 
Please note that the transaction will be handled entirely by PayPal. However, you do not need to have a PayPal account in order to submit your donation through PayPal. 
 
 
Send a Check                                                      
 
If you prefer, you may mail a check made out to God's Vision for Haiti to the following address:
God's Vision for Haiti
P.O. Box 8211
Kentwood, MI
49518

 
 
Photo Album: 2010 Earthquake Relief Trip