Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Story We Find Ourselves in

I only have a minute to post, but I've been in the midst of this book and it's been spurring some good thoughts in my mind and needed a place to splurge them out. These have potential to spur some discussion,

The early chapters of Genesis are completely unique to the rest of Scripture. By "early chapters," I'm referring to the first eleven chapters. Beginning with chapter twelve, the narrative shifts to Abraham and from there on we are dealing history that can/has been verified historically. It is the early chapters that deal with pre-history. It is here where the rub often arises between science and Christianity. It is here that is the heart of the evolution vs. intelligent design issue. Here are some specific points/questions/ramblings from this early portion of Scripture: (I'm interested to see what they spur in others)

* Does a belief in evolution deem the creation accounts false? Must we choose one or the other? Could God have used evolution to accomplish the things listed in the Genesis account?

* We don't want to paint ourselves into a corner. Too many times Christians come out too strongly against things that aren't necessarily that important. We state our case too strongly, and later information comes out to prove our position wrong. Ie. What if they find a gay gene? What if they find the missing links of evolution? We need to make room to for God to fit into whatever science proves. Maybe this is a copout. I'm not intending that.

* We must stay true to the genre. The early stories are true to ancient near eastern poetic literature. We cannot take them from their context and allow them to come immediately into 2006 white, suburban America - or whatever context we might find ourselves in.

McLaren's book sets forth many interesting takes on evolution and the Bible. Too many times our rhetoric is lost in political debates regarding what's going to be taught in schools when it would be much more proffitable to spend time setting forth an image that portrays Christianity in a more favorable light in its relationship to science.

I don't have time to make this coherent . . . hopefully somewhere this makes sense to you.


Suzie said...

I'm not to sure about your point about Science and the "what if" questions. It's almost like you look to Science to tell you who God is. Sometimes it does, but since scientists are fallible, you shouldn't let it have that much power in your life. There have been many scientific discoveries that have proven true over the test of time, and others that have changed even over the course of several years. Once again I get this feeling that you want to make God be what you think he should be. That sounds more judgemental than I mean it to. I don't mean "you" in an attacking way, just in a rhetorical way. Let's reverse the "what-ifs"...what if God really is against homosexuality or whatever you want to put in that blank? It can go both ways.The Israelites lived in a culture where idol worship, child sacrifice, sexual immorality, and many other behaviors were accepted as normal. Some chose to just say, well maybe God is ok with this and go ahead and blend in and many times the prophets were not the popular, mainstream voice of reason in that culture. I worry that we do that. I wrote a blog entry on it (The Instructions).
Interesting discussion...

Metz said...

Thanks for your comment,

I find it ironic that Christians can so quickly look to science and accuse it of being fickle because new discoveries constantly change the way we view and understand the world. However, we do not give our own tradition and heritage the same scrutiny. I propose that theology is as fickle as science. I'm speaking off the top of my head, so I may be overstating the case, but think about the many Capernican revolutions that have happened in theology: we have a long history of killing those who disagree with us - ie. the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusuades, the conquering of the New World, American Indian genocide (God forgive us for all of these); we have a history of using the Bible to oppress women and minorities; science was initially condemned as it proved the world was round and that the earth was not the center of universe (which by the way totally forced theology to go back to the drawing board).

The immediate response would be that the Bible is inerrant or infallible (whichever word you choose). I believe that. It's true. It stands as a beacon shining down a bright truth from the mind of God. The problem is, there's not one perfect infallible person to tell me what it means and how it best applies to my life. I can appeal to the broad scope of CHristianity and see a vast similiarity and unity, but at the same time see amazing diversity. Is that not what Scripture testifies to itself - unity in diversity? We have always applied this to race and background . . . why not idealolgy?

Modernism made us buy into the lie that Christ called a people to all think the same. Jesus' message was NOT think what I tell you . . . it was DO what I tell you! Christianity has focused too much on doctrine. How much of what we believe about God really affects how we act? That statement sounds really weird after I wrote it (maybe even heretical) but I think it's an important question.

Thanks again for your post. It's all in the spirit of conversation so don't apologize for sounding attacking :-) unless you name call or something . . .

Suzie said...

I am not saying we should not give any validation to Science. With scientific findings, I tend to take a "wait and see" approach.

I definitely think we should learn from our history and hopefully grow. I think David's doing a fairly good job of that in this series he's preaching. Explaining how we got to this, and then discussing if where we are is where we should be.

As for motivation for holiness, it definitely has to be more than because God said so. And in some areas it is possible to show why holy living is the better choice. I know when we worked with inner city kids, one motivation they had for not sinning was belonging to a loving, supportive community. One that provided teaching and boundaries for living that they were not receviing at home. I hope what we did was mirror God's love to them. That being said, there are times when I don't understand God's ways. When I can't explain what the advantage to living the way he wants is, and I have to just submit without knowing why. I grew up thinking I was entitled to know why I had to do certain things and then when it was justified to me in a certain way I would do it. I am not sure that will work with God. Did he ever really explain to Job why he had to suffer? It was just, hey, I'm God, I'm in control, and Job was humbled.

I'm no political activist for the right wing agenda, but I do have a problem saying that homosexuality even when it is monogamous is ok with God. Am I cruel or hateful to the people I know that are homosexual? Do I go to the extreme where that is all we talk about? Do I refuse to talk to them or have a relationship with them? No, but I also have to be honest with my beliefs. And when teaching young people or anyone about sin, I can't just omit it because it is politically correct. I don't overemphasize it, but I don't omit it either. Jack's crying and is ready for gotta go. See you Sunday.

emesselt said...

I also read the book and found it pretty interesting. Though, at the end of the day, pretty unsatisfying. McLaren seems to look to people to validate truth. For example, Neo presents different ideas about something. If Kerry likes the idea, that's what's true. Interestingly, if Carol likes an idea, then that's not a good thing to believe. What Neo does *not* do is ask, what does God say? When there is a question, Neo hardly ever goes to the Bible to get an answer. He presents some ideas and whatever Kerry likes becomes truth for the conversation.
So, as an insight into 'postmodernism,' the book is great. But as an actual theology, seems to me, it is a deadend.
However, I think it is very good that you've picked up the book and are engaging with it. "May your tribe increase!"