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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Creation v. Evolution: "Joining a Christian Conversation That is Already Happening"



creationists talking about creation (or, on "theological mass re-education")

Why? Because in the above-mentioned context the Bible is expected to perform certain roles, primarily the role of last stop for settling the important questions of the universe... one of them being, “Where do we come from?”

When presented with this “model” of Scripture, the only option is to choose between the Bible and science–or to borrow the common rhetoric, between God and liberalism, atheism, secularism, Satan, etc.

So, it struck me early on that for the conversation truly to go forward, what is needed is nothing short of a “theological mass re-education”–and in some cases I would even say “de-programming”–not to take the Bible away from anyone, but to give it back without the tons of freight that literalism shackles to it.

This theological re-education does not have to be (and should not be) invented from scratch. Plenty of real, live, honest to goodness, Jesus followers have come to peace with all of this. The re-education is not about “caving in” to the dark side but joining a Christian conversation that is already happening.

I feel that re-education needs to happen mainly in two interconnected areas (although, commenters, feel free to add others you think are important): History and Jesus.

HISTORY

By “History” I simply mean learning more about the historical context of the Bible–or better, contexts. This can be unnerving for some, but I’ve rarely met anyone who hasn’t taken this task seriously and who hasn’t also come away thinking, “Wow, the Bible really does look a lot like it was written from an ancient point of view.”

This insight has theological implications: studying the Bible against its cultural backdrops teaches us to ask ancient questions of the text rather than imposing modern ones. That in and of itself is a major theological overhaul for many.

JESUS

By “Jesus” I mean taking a page out of the New Testament to see how the Gospel writers, Paul, and others handled their Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament) when talking about Jesus.

I bring this up a lot on this blog, and a couple of my books spend some time on this important issue (see here and here). The idea is basically this: the New Testament writers weren’t literalists but read their Bible in a “Christ-centered” way.

Reading the Bible this way required them to re-think, re-interpret, and re-cast the past in view of the surprise ending of a messiah who was not only executed by the Romans (messiah’s aren’t supposed to lose) but whose resurrection brought the future into the present–thus the future “breaks into” the present moment.

The language and concepts concerning God and his people in the Old Testament were not set up to handle this sort of surprise move, and so the Gospel writers, Paul, and others reframed Israel’s past around Jesus.

What’s my point? When it comes to theological overhaul of conservative Christians in America, simply sitting back and watching with both eyes open how the New Testament writers talk about Jesus vis-a-vis the Old Testament is about as re-orienting an experience as a biblical literalist can have. “Following Jesus” has hermeneutical implications.
For the New Testament writers, Jesus exerts a gravitational pull on the Old Testament, bending its light inward, toward him. The result is not an Old Testament read literally, but an Old Testament re-read Christologically.

In Inspiration and Incarnation I call this a “Christo-telic” reading of the Old Testament, where Christ is the “end” (Greek telos) of Israel’s story. In light of this ending, the New Testament re-read their Bible in a necessarily different, creative, more nuanced, way, where parts of Israel story are transformed and reshaped, and parts of if left behind entirely.

If Christians were to take up the task, laid down by the the earliest Christian writers, of reading Israel’s story primarily as a story in need of transformation, rather than an ancient field guide for Christians today, an issue like evolution, which raises questions about the literal value of the Old Testament, may not as crippling and anxiety-producing as it often is.

I wish I could say all that to these young people featured in this video. I wish they could have a bigger Bible, a bigger Jesus, and a bigger God than the ones that now have.