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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Greg Boyd - The Crucifixion of the Warrior God (to Biblical Violence)



My one comment when reading of the violence in the bible is that we see God through our own images. It is no less different now than it was then - even the biblical writers, prophets, priests, and kings saw God through their own thoughts and beliefs. When God speaks to us it is always disruptive to ourselves, our way of looking at others, and even how we move through life. But disruption does not mean that its "100% correcting" or can homogenize all the peccadilloes we carry within us. As any penitent Christian will tell you, God will spend a "lifetime" bringing us into Christ's image on the Cross but it must first begin with our submission to His Spirit.

No, to encounter the disruption of God is to begin a series of disruptions throughout one's life. Some ginormous and some hardly worth noticing. But to be a person inhabiting change is to be a person open to change, relearning, and retelling the Jesus story to ourselves, our family and friends, and throughout our missional lives.


And so, we hear God through our own images. We write, pray, and sing of God through our own images. The Bible's revelations and messages transform over the ages - even now! - but God's people might not unless they are committed to His Spirit to be transformed. Ironically, even during our more "enlightened" church periods since the 1600's the church still preaches "the Cross in one hand while lifting up the sword in the other." How curious when Jesus Himself used no sword except the sword of the Spirit. No angelic military to bend the world to His way of thinking but the cruciformed lives of His church. No thunder and lightening except that which flashed about His head on the eve of His crucifixion.

Nay, the problem is us. It lies with us and in us. Not God. Us. Not the Bible. Us. It's writers and preachers and listeners. It's interpreters. Even as we come to the book of Revelation the church would rather see God in dynamic militarism against mankind rather than as the One Coming to cease our wars and quiet our murderous hearts. But perhaps it all started with unrepentent believers refusing to bow heart and knee to the peace of Christ in mission, livelihood, and communion with one another. And so we pray dear God this simple prayer, "Save us from ourselves. Save us to do the work of the Spirit by your Cross of love and grace. Amen."

R.E. Slater
January 25, 2017





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The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Volumes 1 & 2


Renowned pastor-theologian Gregory A. Boyd proposes a revolutionary way to read the Bible in this epic but accessible study. His "cruciform hermeneutic" stands as a challenge to the field of biblical studies and to all thoughtful Christians.

A dramatic tension confronts every Christian believer and interpreter of Scripture: on the one hand, we encounter Old Testament stories of God commanding horrendous violence. On the other hand, we read the unequivocally nonviolent teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. Reconciling these two has challenged Christians and theologians for two millennia.

Throughout Christian history, various answers have been proposed, ranging from the long-rejected explanation that these contrasting depictions are of two entirely different "gods" to recent social, cultural, and literary theories that attempt to dispel the conflict.

The Crucifixion of the Warrior God takes up this dramatic tension and the range of proposed answers in an ambitious constructive investigation. Over two volumes, Gregory A. Boyd argues that we must take seriously the full range of Scripture as inspired, including its violent depictions of God. At the same time, he affirms the absolute centrality of the crucified and risen Christ as the supreme revelation of God.

Developing a theological interpretation of Scripture that he labels a "cruciform hermeneutic," Boyd demonstrates how the Bible's violent images of God are reframed and their violence subverted when interpreted through the lens of the cross and resurrection. Indeed, when read in this way, Boyd argues that these violent depictions bear witness to the same self-sacrificial nature of God that was ultimately revealed on the cross.



Biblical Hermeneutics in a Post-Truth Culture



When developing a postmodern contemporary theology one of the first problems that drew my attention was the problem of how Christians interpret the bible. Because of the church's many deeply held sacrosanct traditions and beliefs it quickly became the one area that must be examined and talked about if progress was to be made in hearing God's Word again rather than our own uncharitable belief systems. Consequently, over the past decade or so many "practical or pragmatic" discussions have been occurring in the theological community across any number of levels of bible topics for the very reason that the theology of biblical interpretation is in transition. And it must be if the church has any hope of getting through the hard-bent realities of post-truth cultures doubling-down on secularizing (or segregating) cultural/societal beliefs resistant to the Spirit of God working across our tightly integrating global cultures. Resistance by the church to God's will and work creates a climate of spiritual darkness that chains everything-and-everybody to policies of inequity, injustice, and untruth. The church then becomes a body politik for these injustices rather than a mediating force for the love and goodness of God. Theologians and church people are beginning to understand this dilemma as seen in the quote below by David Congdon.

R.E. Slater
January 25, 2017






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From David Congdan, IVP Academics -

"...This is true, but I think the problem goes far deeper. Evangelicals are in the habit of viewing certain sources of knowledge—specifically, the Bible, but also their own traditions, beliefs, and practices—as being beyond scrutiny and critique. Their divine sanction renders them immune to historical and scientific testing. Assessing the truth-claims of Christianity represents a lack of faith. Having grown up in this tradition I know all too well how one learns from an early age that anyone who challenges one's beliefs must be an enemy of God, and thus an enemy of truth.

"The cultivation of this way of thinking over many years produces the conditions in which a "post-truth" culture and politics can easily thrive. If one is inculcated in the belief that one's theological ideas are unfalsifiable, then it becomes very easy to believe that one's political ideas are also unfalsifiable. Scientists say the world is billions of years old? It's a lie because the Bible tells me so. Historians say the conquest didn't take place as narrated? It's a lie because the Bible can't be wrong. Scientists say that humans are responsible for climate change? That must also be a lie because my faith community tells me so.

"It has long been acknowledged that evangelicals have a very difficult time with hermeneutics. The word hermeneutics refers to the science of interpretation. Hermeneutics arose because the old traditions could no longer be taken for granted; texts and theologies came under scrutiny in modernity as people became conscious of the way history and culture condition how people see the world and themselves. To acknowledge the challenge of hermeneutics is to acknowledge that all of our thinking and speaking is conditioned by our time and place. But this means opening ourselves to critique and testing as we become aware of the diversity of perspectives.

"All of which is to say, the evangelical resistance to hermeneutics is a key contributor to the creation of a "post-truth" society. If evangelicals want to address our political crisis, embracing the problem of hermeneutics is an important first step."

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Resources

Wikipedia - Biblical Hermeneutics

Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Hermeneutics

Additional resources I would consider apropos would be in the postmodern sciences, social sciences, including the philosophical areas of the orthomorphology of linguistics, existential narrative, Continental Philosophy / Radical Theology using the Hegel stream of tradition (Peter Rollins et al), Relational Process Theology (Thomas Oord et al), Stanley Hauerwas' insights into the pragmatics of prophetic interpretation, Peter Enns and Greg Boyd's "Incarnational" writings (Jesus-centric), and so forth as have been reviewed here over the years. What is not needed is a continued dependance upon a biblical literalism but a grown-up, full scale, postmodern acquisition of how we see-and-understand things than translate them into our world to act upon or ignore. - R.E. Slater





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Defining Biblical Hermeneutics


How Biblical interpretations, or hermeneutics of the Bible,
affect the way we read the scriptures

Ellen White  •  09/03/2016


This Bible History Daily article was originally published in 2011.
It has been updated and expanded.—Ed.





This vellum copy of the Gutenberg Bible is owned by the Library of Congress. The Gutenberg Bible, the Vulgate (Latin) translation, is the first book printed using moveable type. Printed in the 1450s in Mainz Germany, this is one of only 48 copies that still survive (11 in the United States), and is considered to be one of the most valuable books in existence. Photo: Raul654’s image is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
For as long as there have been Biblical texts, there have been Biblical hermeneutics, or Biblical interpretations. One definition of hermeneutics (given by Bernhard W. Anderson in a piece he wrote for Bible Review) is that Biblical hermeneutics are “modes of [Bible] interpretation[s].” In another Bible Review articleJames A. Sanders offered a Biblical hermeneutics definition as “interpretive lens[es]” through which one reads the Bible. Going a step further, the Merriam-Webster dictionary extends its hermeneutics definition to include not only the methods or principles of the interpretations but also the study of those very Biblical interpretations. In short, the hermeneutics of the Bible are the many ways people read the Bible.
Biblical hermeneutics even take place within the Biblical text itself. In the Hebrew Bible, the authors of the Psalms and the prophets often referred back to the Torah and incorporated their own interpretations and understanding of the text from their social locations.

In the years leading up to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E., several different Jewish groups had risen to prominence, including the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. Although they were all Jewish, each group had very different Biblical hermeneutics. Definition of what happened to the soul after death, proper temple sacrifice and the importance of studying the law differed among these groups because of their varying approaches. Christianity also began as a Jewish sect, but as Jesus’ followers developed their own hermeneutics in relation to the law and the role of the messiah, it became a distinct religion.
Today there are many hermeneutics applied to the Bible. These methodologies range from historical-critical, to post-colonial, to rhetorical, to cultural-critical, to ecological to canonical-critical. These are all types of Biblical hermeneutics. Part of the reason that so many hermeneutics exist is that interpreters have different goals. For example, if you want to understand how Moses’s life in the wilderness differed from daily life in the ancient Levant, you would use an archaeological/anthropological hermeneutic. However, if you want to understand the gender politics between Miriam and Moses in the wilderness, you would use a feminist or womanist approach to the text. Different hermeneutics lead to different types of interpretations. Cheryl Exum famously wrote two articles on Exodus 1-2:10 focusing on the women in the narrative. Her conclusions in these articles appear contradictory, but that is because she used two different hermeneutics (rhetorical and feminist) and each method focused on different elements of the text, which led to different interpretations of the text.

Even archaeology, which is the focus of BAR, is a Biblical hermeneutic. By studying the remains of ancient people and how they lived, and comparing their finds to the texts, archaeologists are able to offer exciting new interpretations. For example, the sacrifice of Isaac is one of the most interpreted stories throughout history. The disturbing narrative about a God who orders his follower to sacrifice his son, but ultimately withdraws this command at the final moment, has caused great discomfort in readers for several reasons. Many of these reasons revolve around the modern revulsion regarding child sacrifice. The world of archaeology provides insight into the practice (or non-practice) of sacrifice in the ancient world, as well as the hilltop altars, which appear in the story. For more on this topic see “Infants Sacrificed? The Tale Teeth Tell” by Patricia Smith in the July/August 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
There are many ways in which you can approach the text, and your method will determine your interpretation. It is important then to be transparent about what is essential to you as a reader and recognize how that impacts the interpretations that you develop. Your interpretive goal will ultimately determine your Biblical hermeneutic.


This Bible History Daily article was originally published in July 2011.
It was updated and expanded by Dr. Ellen White on October 13, 2014.



Ellen White, Ph.D. (Hebrew Bible, University of St. Michael’s College), was the senior editor at the Biblical Archaeology Society. She has taught at five universities across the U.S. and Canada and spent research leaves in Germany and Romania. She has also been actively involved in digs at various sites in Israel.



Read how noted scholars arrive at a definition of Biblical hermeneutics: