Thursday, May 16, 2019

Thursday Thoughts - May 16

Feelings are highly significant, though they are not decisive when it comes to knowledge. In order to assess whether feelings are trustworthy or deceptive, it is crucial that they be in dialogue with the rest of who we are, including reason and sense observation, so that we have a more holistic perspective. We should not stop, however, at an interpersonal dialogue. We are obliged to interact with a multiplicity of other informers if we are to have our feelings and the whole of our lives refigured, and to begin to know in the light of being known.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Living Spiritual Rhythms - May 15

To hear and read the story of Mark is to enter a narrative world of conflict and drama, possession and dispossession, subversive reversals of perspective, intrigue, mystery, and strange riddles, with Jesus as its central protagonist. It is far from a simple or nice story, filled with easy answers or a basic list of rules to follow. Readers, in contrast, are challenged to participate in the story and to lose their lives for Jesus’ sake in order to find them. What? Outrageous! Yet, as the world of self-serving power, greed, and control is shattered, readers are invited to embrace a possible world that will lead them to life after death.  


Monday, May 13, 2019

Reflection for the Week - May 10

Instead of invoking mystery concerning God, the world, and humanity, we make up a story. In good human primate fashion we long for, even demand, clarity and explanation for life. Yet, even at the best of times, this escapes us, so story telling becomes a vehicle for diversion and catharsis, which appropriately takes the place of the frustration with the unknown. But stories are stories, they are not to be proved or disproved in fact like fashion, though they can and sometimes should be believed or disbelieved, depending on their informative and illuminating caliber or the lack of it. Thus, while the biblical, natural world, and other stories may offer us directions and possibilities, trying to figure things out will still leave us with plenty of ambiguities. I’d wager that’s ok.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Thursday Thoughts - May 9

I read for review a recent work on biblical authority by a contemporary author who tries to make a case for this. The clarity of the biblical text, it is argued, is based on the truth that it is God’s own communicative action (what God has authored), which gives us light, not a magisterium or a subjective opinion. What is clear is delivered by the Spirit speaking in the text. For me, this raises a number of issues, but I’ll flag just two. I’d wager that it can be extremely difficult to discern Spirit speech. Any difference between the Spirit speaking text and subjective opinions – be they by the magisterium or the individual – is not entirely transparent. Further, when a group of interpreters or even two interpreters come to different conclusions about the meaning of the same text, making the claim that ‘the Spirit is speaking’ can become a foil for ‘my (our) interpretation is the “right” one.’ I mentioned recently that the authority of the biblical text and Divine action are two monumental questions that Christians need to do more work on. In my opinion, books like the one I reviewed with its general appeals to the apologetic line that the biblical text is God’s communication and the Spirit speaking clarifies this transmission will not get us very far or contribute much to the discussion on authority. A better direction, at the outset, would be to recognize that the biblical text is a messy one, tangled up as it is with ancient ways, people, and phenomena. We should do the best we can with the diversity that’s there, rather than assuming that it’s all somehow authored by God.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Living Spiritual Rhythms - May 8

I’d wager that reality is subjectively objective. This configuration appears to correspond to nature and humanity. That is, God, the other, and the world are objectively there, but our access to them is subjective. Yet, subjectivity does not cancel out objectivity, or vice versa. If that’s the case, they are related and distinct and in tension at the same time.  


Monday, May 6, 2019

Reflection for the Week - May 6

In the Psalms we see creational affirmations and covenant shattering, combined with a longing for a renewal of relational safety and stability. As the Psalmist might cry out, May your goodness, oh God, shine through and lament not be our lot in life. Living spiritually is enhanced and enriched through the Psalms and their frequent affirmations of and appeals to God’s covenant loyalty. Many of these writings, however, may shock us with their realism. In the midst of our sometimes automatic pilot spirituality, where everything is supposedly bright and happy, some of the Psalms remind us that community with God and the path to life are far from straight forward. There is and will be brokenness, mystery, dark times, desperate searching, and much more. Though these circumstances frequently lead to illumination and new understanding, arriving there means going through—not taking a detour around—facets of spirituality that may not fit our desired schemes, notions, and expectations of God.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Thursday Thoughts - May 2

Several evangelical authors, notably John Walton, have published useful material on the interpretation of Genesis 1-3. While these authors tend to acknowledge the importance of science, they never do so to the degree that it might question their interpretive notion of the authority of the biblical text. No matter what arises, the text, for them, remains authoritative from beginning to end. There is a pretention in these writings of taking science seriously, but it seems the biblical text and science are in two entirely separate compartments and thus can have no significant impact on each other. This is unfortunate. The authors, I’d wager, have to look at this differently. In my view, there needs to be a dialogue between these informers come what may. That is, authority can’t always be decided on ahead of time and it will depend on what issues are at hand. If this dialogue is allowed to take place it may require modifications of scientific and theological views, which stands to benefit both science and theology. But I guess if dialogue threatens biblical authority these authors will simply not engage with it. When you keep science and the biblical text completely apart from each other, you may achieve a ‘protected’ status for the Bible, but you may also lose credibility when it comes to facing the challenges that dialogue can’t help but create.