Friday, July 10, 2015

Is God Violent (5)

My Twitter description quotes Bob Dylan, "Times they are a'changin'". And truth be told, so am I. I'm on a journey of personal transformation that leads to community transformation. 

In the last post I unpacked the idea that the view our biblical writers had of God evolved and matured throughout the canon of scripture. And more importantly this evolving and maturing was always at God's initiative. This isn't necessarily a linear maturing, but a circular dynamic that is happening and which is always moving forward.

Of course, if you haven't asked it already, I'm sure you will: Who are we to think that we know more today than the biblical writers? Who do we think we are thinking we've got a better handle on God and the world, humankind and how to be a follower of Jesus in the world? Do you really think we are the ones who have now arrived? Doesn't a lot of evidence point just to the contrary? 

Indeed, it just might. It seems the more we change, the more we stay the same. 

However, what's the big deal, really, saying that we know more than the biblical writers did? Or that we have learned things that the biblical writers never could know? 

We've learned for instance that storms and natural disasters are not sent by God as a punishment, but have other originations that we know about due to science and technology. We have also learned that the biblical view of the structure of the universe - as a three part dome of the sky, a firmament floating on water, under which is an underworld, around which the sun and moon and stars revolve - was wrong. It sure made sense then, but we know different now. We know more about illness, germs, communicable diseases, anatomy and biology, epilepsy and multiple schlorosis, atoms and cells and genes. 

I would say that without a doubt this has shaped our understanding and experience of God in very profound ways much to our betterment. 

I would also say that it is also true that the more we learn the less we know, the more knowledge we acquire the newer potential for abuse and destruction, the greater is our insight into our fallibility as human beings. Those two things can exist in the same space for me. And because they can, the Scriptures still are the single most important source for me to shape my understanding about how I am to be a disciple of Jesus in the world. 

The other side of the question, Do we really think we are the ones who have arrived?, is the question, Is God still unfolding Godself, still showing us things that we still need to learn? Who are we to think that we know that God has stopped, frozen all we need to see into a specific moment of time when the biblical canon was adopted and closed? Actually, isn't that the very definition of idolatry? And God was pretty definitive on that one. 

Brian McLaren wrote: To be a member of a faith community is not to be the lucky member of the group that has finally arrived; it is to be in a cohort that is learning together. (A New Kind of Christianity)

I want to write more on this. But enough for now. In the meantime, let me know what is getting stirred up in you. I'd really like to know.