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
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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Who is Noah and How Does Noah's Story Tell Us of God? Part 1






Noah - Official Trailer (2014) [HD] Russel Crowe, Emma Watson




"In its early stages, religion means certainty about many things.
But... he is most religious who is certain of but one thing,
the world-embracing love of God." 
- Charles Hartshorne

Introduction

There are several things I know. I know that we live in a spiritual world as much as a material world. This is my personal belief and the beginning point of my being. It's an admission within me as a poet-theologian as much as it is a statement of skepticism towards modern day religion and human beings search for meaning on whatever basis it comes. Because of this belief, I believe in miracles. In prophecy. And in the inspiration of the Bible. The balances are tipped in the scales of my heart towards the spiritual over the material.

And yet, the materialist in me would deny this belief and say, (i) "everything can be explained naturally - especially biblical miracles" as science continues forward. That, (ii) "prophecy is fore-telling alone without the forth-telling aspect of the aspectual prophecy." That the prophecy's appearance, or expression, to the mind comes with the accompanying observation of its nature, character, or the quality of the thing being viewed, presented, or interpreted by the prophet, his audience, or consequential events. And that, (iii) "the Bible is merely a collection of human writings and gathered stories from the tongues of religious story tellers to communities who were passionate about their beliefs, or emptied of any beliefs whatsoever and wanting answers however they may come. Who passed those storied traditions along  - with or without embellishment (or loss of it) - warts and all, through local colouring and flavoring. So that the story's legend grew through through time into a modern midrash of human compendium and experience. Insights and wisdoms. Beliefs. Superstitions. Heart felt joy. Songs, prayers, and thanksgiving.

And thus the tone and tempo for our discussion of Noah is set. Is it a spiritual story, or a material story, or some admixture of both? Is Noah himself a man or a myth? If prophet, priest, and judge, than by what moral, ethical, or religious standard? Is the Bible's account to be read as literally true or as a literary genre expressing religious values and self-identity. Values as much about life itself as about ourselves, our needs, and our wants... or something that can tells us about who we are? And if there was no global flood than where is the miracle? If the animals were not collected two-by-two than where is the sense of God's preservation, power, and judgment upon man's wickedness and evil? Of the Creator's displeasure with man? Or His abiding patience and longsuffering for His creation? It's caretake and salvation? If the future of the world is not to be one of annihilation by fire than how can we ever again read the Bible without doubting its pages or doubting the God of its pages?

Eh, verily, these and more questions rapidly come to mind. For in truth, we yearn for a fellowship with our Maker. One that would tell us of ourselves, our creation, our sin, and need for redemption. Not a mortal-filled book spilling with ancient beliefs and superstitions, native customs and conventions, local ignorance and regional fables. But a divine book Spirit-made and Spirit-wrought. One honoring universal truths, wisdoms, beliefs, and eternal promises. If the Bible is to be believed than how do we approach the story of Noah? His ark, the flood, man's judgement, and ultimate renewal?

And there is the cusp of the problem when coming to the biblical narrative of Noah. His story sets the tempo in our hearts to challenge all that we think we know of God. Of the world. And of mankind. It challenges our pet beliefs. Our dogmas. And the very fabric of our faith. It tests us by asking us about this "other Noah" that we have made whether by legend or by fact. If whether we have made Noah in our own image (and imaginations) even as we may have crafted the image of God after our own needs and necessities. A God whom we must test to believe in order to live out a God-faith in a sin-filled world racked by human greed and pride. Pain and suffering. Made more of fate than destiny. It is this "other Noah" whom we come to in order to re-discover the God of our lives lest all falls apart within our fragile worlds of faith and belief.

For myself, I realized a profound necessity for my belief in God. That it is this belief that has defined me. That makes me who I am. That marks me. That drives me forward. For without it I would be the poorer. The more wasted. The more ruined. But with it everything I am remade as if by divine hands of love which I see everywhere about. Or everywhere rejected. Or everywhere renewing and redeeming even as it is feared, doubted, spurned, and denied. Even so, by this divine love I must also have a realistic God and not a fanciful one. A realistic faith and not the one of my childhood's youth found upon a Sunday School's faith made of fantasy, fiction, and whim by erstwhile teachers.

If it is to be a mature faith than it will have to look at the stories of the Bible and see them for what they are, as much as for what they are not. And to not think that the God I know of in the Bible can be lost. Or in need of my defense for His existence. Or denial. But through their collective narratives I must come to see the God who spoke in-and-through the ancients of His will and power, grace and love, mercy and forgiveness. Who gave hope even as He forewarned and judged. A God who rules today EVEN as He did so many long eons ago through the many lives - and life's events - that surrounds and moves us within its heavenly streams.

That the only difference between my faith and the ancients' faith of yesteryear will be one of material knowledge based upon science and research, time and event, reason and discourse. But it can also be a journey of faith within all the material discovery and theological arguments made in a grown-up world based upon a grown-up faith that hasn't outgrown its youthful images of God's certainty and guidance. Even in its adult years of skepticism and agnosticism.

This then must be the beginning of our discussion if we are to have a discussion. One that doubts and questions, believes and yearns for the spiritual in a material world. Without this beginning point we can only reinforce our own beliefs about the story of Noah and what it has come to mean to so many today both up-and-down the religious or non-religious aisles. And so, by way of an extended introduction I leave an earlier article written not long ago that might continue this discussion in the weeks ahead as we look into the story of Noah for today's postmodern times. Its academic disbeliefs, its Christian fantasies, its fairytales, its time honored traditions, and amassing lores. Peace.

R.E. Slater
April 10, 2014


---

Excerpt

"Bible bashing is not an activity that can be found here at Relevancy22. The Bible is considered God's Holy Word to mankind that is authoritative and inspired but not inerrant. As such, this site does work at conveying to readers how the Bible may be read without adding the forced doctrine of inerrancy (a doctrinal creed that comes courtesy of the Evangelical Theological Society's Chicago Statement of 1980), without losing its spiritual authority in our lives when reading of God's wondrous story of redemption for creation and mankind. That this spiritual recount is inspired by His Spirit and guided by His hand placed upon the passions and burdens of His people over  a very long period of time. That it began as oral history in the form of story telling, religious poems, hymns, songs, incantations, or recitals; to people who were weary, joyful, hopeful, religious, not religious, fearful,  or superstitious; and conveyed by priests, prophets, community leaders, country folk, Bedouins, villagers, city folk, foreigners; who may have been oppressed, humbled, persecuted, enslaved, and exiled, to name a few circumstances and instances.

"So today's topic will review two kinds of reading of the Bible - one that is not-inerrant as versus one that is inerrant - by using an archaeological discovery which is acting like a fast spreading wildfire of public opinion and news. At the outset it is important to notice that we didn't say an "errant" reading of the Bible because that type of reading can be true of both groups - both for the one not holding to inerrancy as well as for the one holding to it. So what does this mean? Well, for the scientist - or archaeologist in this case - rather than to describe something in "error" the preferred term might be "anachronism," meaning something that is unique, different, or a-typical, of what you are studying. That is, one's findings, or discoveries, or calculations, have turned up a salient, singular, result that requires further investigation. And in the case of archaeology, more than in the case of physics or chemistry, those findings may still be hiding in the dirt. And so you wait. You hypothesize. You reflect on patterns and meaning to what is known and what is not known.

  [uh-nak-ruh-niz-uh m] Show IPA
noun
1.
something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing orperson that belongs to an earlier time: The sword is an anachronism in modern warfare.
2.
an error in chronology in which a person, objectevent, etc., is assigned a date or period other thanthe correct one: To assign Michelangelo to the 14th century is an anachronism.

"Which in this case is whether camels (both the one-hump variety and the two-hump kind) were domesticated in Abraham's day (that is, from Genesis 11 onwards). And if they weren't then why are they described in Genesis (and the Pentateuch) as being present and being used as beasts of burden? Now this isn't new news for those studying ancient biblical ruins, times, or events... but it is to us non-archaeological types that read the news and react to its discourses when it runs afoul of our thinking, prejudices, biblical systems, conventions, and philosophies. It can dissettle us. And when it does we may have one of three reactions: (i) stay calm by reading onwards while reflecting upon the meaning of the discovery; (ii) say "yeah, I suspected this all along!" and excitedly push on into the story as it reflects our pet beliefs, idiosyncrasies, or skepticisms; (iii) or, react in disgust and anger saying, "Confound it, those liberals are at it again, telling me my Bible is wrong, and I am wrong! Anathema on all science and archaeology!" Which is my poor attempt at being humorous over a very serious subject for many, which may hold very serious implications if preferred readings and traditional interpretations of the Bible are being forthrightly challenged to the degree that it requires personal, if not system-wide change and rethinking.

"Which begs the question, how are we to read the Bible? Especially if what we're reading may not be true but filled with authorial largesse more concerned with great story telling than historical accuracy. Which hits at the nub of the problem as any new discovery may conflict with our own private interpretations of a very complex book we know as the Bible. A book spoken, sung, and much later written, by burdened story tellers wishing to convey how God came to them and spoke to their hearts redemptive truths. Truths that required telling - whether it was wanted or not. Perhaps at story teller's own peril or community standing. And, unlike modern day storytelling, the ancients weren't particularly worried about facts, more probably because of their mindset, and just as likely because there were no resources to verify them as there is today in our digital age of "ready online information." As such, biblical story tellers were not buttoned down by the convention of historical accuracy. Rather, they were more concerned in telling of God's great passion, burden, and heart, by using whatever conventions they could to drive home the point which the Lord had so placed upon their heart.

"So when we, as modern day readers, come to this very ancient process of oral tradition that was much, much later written down and then imperfectly preserved through the long centuries of personal and national disruption created by ethos wars, cultural exiles, and civil disobedience, we should not expect a "Star Trek type of Bible" dropped out of the sky into our lap to read unmarred by the many disjointed personalities, events, past traditions, and interpretations of the ancient story tellers. To read the Bible is to try to read, and interpret, its narrative while holding in abeyance its many anachronisms, which are no threat to God or His Word. Though they may be to us and our biblical systems and doctrines which we have built upon select readings of the Bible's "airs and atmospheres." For the scholar, as for the biblical reader in general, the trick is to read its center, and there find God's message of redemption. Of personal sacrifice and love for a creation and for mankind gone off track because of sin and desire. Its spiritual message is deep, and wide, and pregnant with meaning for the empty lives we would live without the presence of our kind Lord and almighty Saviour....."

R.E. Slater
February 21, 2014


More Reference Material -






The Land of the Dead, Noah by Director/Writer Darren Aronofsky

Anthony Hopkins, Noah by Director/Writer Darren Aronofsky

Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Noah by Director/Writer Darren Aronofsky

Good v. Evil, Noah by Director/Writer Darren Aronofsky

And so it begins, Noah by Director/Writer Darren Aronofsky

Emma Watson, Noah by Director/Writer Darren Aronofsky






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