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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Authentic Rigor of the Bible as a Literary Narrative of the Ages



To read the bible is to read of its composition at the hands of many many authors and editors. As has well been said, the bible is a literary composition not a literal composition when we read its pages. To me, this makes the bible all the more authentic over the contrived "inerrancy" movement which would say otherwise. If this literary authenticity was not found in its pages than the bible would simply pass into the archives of history as another mythical narrative elicited from ancient civilizations long pass.

To that end, the biblical legends that arise from the bible's pages are a common narrative theme bespeaking cultural relevancy rather than historical irrelevancy. When compared to other literary narratives it is a very common argumentation derived from the human breast linking past to present. Even today, in our postmodern cultures, news services and social media, contemporary interpretations of the news continually purports to "interpret" God's hand in human affairs as did the "divines" of yesteryear from the pages of the Old and New Testaments.

No less was this narratival work done by other, more ancient civilizations, bespeaking God's "favor" upon their actions through war canons, documentaries, and cultural legends. Today we do the same. It seems we cannot avoid thinking in nationalistic terms when interpreting our past and present actions. Revisionism lies everywhere to the uncritical, inward-evolving human story of pathos in event. It is how humanity tells its story to itself and other peoples and nations though its story may not be God's story of redemption but a more earthly form of "redemption" a civilization may wish to cling too.

This makes the Bible authentic. It was never written as a creedal tract but as a theological narrative relating the difficulty of faith in the streams of popular beliefs and actions. And in many instances, as a-less-than-godly narrative from the lips of God's people steeped in lore, legend and legacy. For many a faithful one, it required standing up to one's culture to challenge its common misperceptions. And when done, receive for their efforts shunning, excommunication, libel, and perhaps death, when speaking out. Today, popular examples abound in postmodern civilization as both church and government, communities and individuals decide who or what is worthy to be heard. It bespeaks the ancient disease of sin in the hearts of the faithful wishing to be valiant but finding their works but filthy rags needing Jesus' atoning redemption.

As such, this historical-literary feature of the Bible makes it all the more interesting and relevant to today's postmodern cultures grasping how to interpret God's Word in a day-and-age when all claim "knowing God" but really are living far-far-away from His Heart, Word, and Spirit. And no, I am not speaking of the world here, but of the today's fundamental and conservative churches and faith claimants clamoring about to the truth of their messages yet finding their dutiful work, preaching, and outreach nowhere close to God's heart and mission. Thus religion is bourne away from faith to idolatry, away from good intentions to evil, without any questioning of its truer, darker heart held within the human breast casting eyes ever outwards rather than inwards. So the bible tells us let us examine ourselves first, our faith, and our commitments, and learn to be wise when seeking truth and fellowship. Amen and Amen.

R.E. Slater
August 3, 2017

* * * * * * * * * *




A Few Facts Christians Should Know About The Bible’s “Canaanite Genocide”
July 31, 2017
Comments

In recent years the issue of violence in the Old Testament has become a hot topic of discussion in many Christian circles. While there’s plenty of violence in the Old Testament worthy of wrestling and discussion, one particular event seems to come up a lot: the Canaanite genocide.

There’s fewer stories in the Bible that create the problems the Canaanite genocide creates. How could “God’s nation” completely slaughter an entire people group? How is it loving to one’s neighbor to kill all of them? Why would God make them do such a thing?

All good questions. Atheists have pounced on them for years, while most evangelicals have had to engage in cognitive dissonance as the modern concept of inerrancy has forced them to now find a way to justify an event (that if true) isn’t morally different than the holocaust or other genocidal conquests we’ve seen through history.

This discussion has been re-sparked by recent news that scientists have discovered that the Canaanites were not wiped out. This study reports:

“DNA retrieved from roughly 3,700-year-old skeletons at an excavation site in Lebanon that was formerly a major Canaanite city-state shows that “present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age.”

In light of this study, here’s some important facts that Christians might want to know about the Bible’s Canaanite genocide:

Fact: The Bible itself ultimately makes it clear that the genocide did not happen.

Later in the Bible we find out that there are, gasp, still Canaanites. In fact, Jesus actually heals one of them in the Gospel of Matthew. So this idea there was a genocide where all of the Canaanites were destroyed? We know just from reading the Bible this isn’t true.

Fact: We already knew scientifically that the genocide didn’t happen.

As Dr. James McGrath pointed out today, many of us were surprised that people are acting like this is some sort of new discovery, when it’s not:

“First of all, the Bible is very clear (in places) that the Canaanites were never completely wiped out from Israel. But second and more importantly, historians have always been aware that the Phoenicians were a Canaanite people, and so the discovery that their descendants are to be found in the regions they historically inhabited should not be a surprise either…”

Furthermore, as Peter Enns has pointed out in his own work, we know from archeological evidence that the genocide did not happen– certainly not on the scale the Bible implies.

Fact: False reports of genocide are common in the bronze age.

Should the fact that the Bible implies genocide occurred, but that modern evidence disproves this, be shocking? No, of course not. In fact, this clear exaggeration of events actually makes the Bible more authentic instead of less– and this is because at the time these passages were written, it was actually commonplace to falsely claim one had wiped out all of their enemies. Instead of shocking, it is quite affirming because it is exactly how I would expect a bronze age written war conquest to read. Had Canaanite records survived to present day, I wouldn’t be surprised if they claimed to have wiped out all their enemies, too.

Case in point, here is a short 2 minute video blog I made in Amman, Jordan when I stumbled upon a Moabite artifact that does exactly this– and ironically, falsely claims there was a genocide that destroyed all of ancient Israel:
One of the hot issues in theology today is the issue of violence and genocide in the Old Testament. Did God command genocide? Did the people of God ruthlessly slaughter their enemies? I'm here at a museum in Amman, and have stumbled upon an artifact from a Moabite king that might completely change the way you read some of the claims of the Old Testament, especially claims of genocide:
https://www.facebook.com/benjaminlcorey/videos/1002072116605360/
So, when we as Christians discuss the problematic Old Testament passages claiming genocide, we need to begin from a starting point that recognizes that both the Bible, and multiple angles of science, affirm the reality that there was not an extermination of the Canaanites. Furthermore, we must also recognize that these exaggerations do not call the authenticity of the Bible into question, but instead affirm it is a historical document of a specific time and place, and that it reads exactly the way one would expect it to read– including exaggerations of genocide.

Of course, this brings up other questions, perhaps the most important being: “If the Bible claims that God ordered genocide, does that mean God really did?”

That’s a question for a different day– but the important facts to remember, is that they didn’t do what we often think they did.

And that’s actually good news.

Follow BLC on Facebook


No comments:

Post a Comment