Do you have to imagine being saved by Christ for it to be an actuality for you?
Do you have to imagine being saved by Christ for it to be an actuality for you?
Voyaging through the charted waters of reason without imagination and a holistic understanding of humanness, Scripture, and the world, leaves us adrift and undirected in the waves of certainty, while navigating the uncharted waters of imagination without reason and a holistic picture of humanness, Scripture, and the world, leaves us submersed and floundering in the sea of uncertainty.
The biblical text is comprised of a medley of genres that reflect on and name God. To be sure the Revealed One inspires the plot and characters in the story, who are given creative license to explore and configure the Being who Is. Prophecy, apocalyptic, wisdom, law, psalm, and narrative send polyphonic tremors throughout the textual sea, as Infinite meets finite and tracks the traces of the communicative action of the Speaker. Surely, now we can move critically through and gently beyond Descartes, Kant, and Hegel, or the likes of the more contemporary influences of Heidegger, Derrida, and Ricoeur, as we seek to encounter a naming and thinking which stands next to none.
Poetry is more important than history in the Bible – would you agree / disagree - what are your thoughts?
Imagination expands our lives. It helps us to understand God, the world, and ourselves. No doubt fear of imagining wrong things in the Christian tradition has led to smothering and sedating imagination, as much of what we see and do has a greater connection with ugliness, than a vision of beauty. So many have been scolded and told – it’s all about following the rules and regulations, get in line, conform to the status quo, as if creativity and imagination are somehow always connected to the unreal. There is nothing less at stake here than humanness – being a creative, imaginative, rational, sense observing, feeling, experiencing and participating, beauty maker. Marginalized artists, poets, story tellers, and musicians, who have been forced to the edges of their churches or completely out of them, have come to Swiss L’Abri over the years. They literally weep when they are told they belong, have a key place, and are not required to paint crosses, recount a story with the name Jesus in every other line, or compose a syrupy chorus that has nothing to do with reality.
The mega story in the Bible, the deliverances of the natural world, and truer selfhood, however, give us a framework from which to be creative and imagine - a story of healing and redemption in the midst of ugliness, where God created, and in the twinkling of an eye, raised Christ from the dead, evoking a stream of new life that invites each of us to come as we are and to participate in the renewal of creation, as we follow the Crucified and Risen One. Re-imagining the Christian faith in the light of the mega story is crucial for our engagement with the world, each other as community, and the cultures in which we live. Imagine what the new heaven and earth are to be like and live that with love, grace, and fortitude, telling good stories – as a good story in that it reflects truth, is like the gospel.
Cacophony drums its steady beat through the soul, leaving a scar of perplexity. Faced with a surging discordance, our attempts to recover and to find concordance seem vain. Like being told a never ending story in which we struggle to discover the plot, hope seems to escape, as a vapor that disappears with the rising sun. Behind the shades of disheartening and the lines not yet written, however, lies the searing character of unbound love, which creeps into the narrative with a shattering power that goes beyond the resonance of time.
Following the question on ZigZag yesterday here are a few thoughts. The fierce debate about the similarities and differences of the God of the OT and of the NT is well known. My configuration would go along these lines. God in both testaments is contextual; revealing into contexts in different ways and these inform us about something of who God is. That is, the God of first and second testaments is willing to be contextual, though he is not finally subject to context.
In the OT YHWH is understood as being responsible for both Exodus and Exile. YHWH moves in a mighty way to liberate Israel from one Empire and to deport them into the hands of another. Words of disappointment and threat effectuate the displacement, as Israel has gravely sinned against the covenant God. Yet, a new hope arises and the proclamation that a freedom to return to Jerusalem will come, and loss, grief, and alienation will be undone, as Babylon the Empire, releases its vassal.
In the NT Jesus proclaims the arrival of the kingdom of God and that this is good news. He defeats Satan, casts out demons, heals the sick, and raises the dead, offering cleansing, forgiveness, and redemption to all who believe. He ventures to tell his followers that not only are they to love neighbor, but also enemy. Although, a military denouement is not yet, it will come. The mighty Woes in Matt. 23 addressed to the religious elite in Jerusalem of Jesus’ day, give a foretaste of an impending disaster and another Exile. Jerusalem has been longed for, but will be left desolate.
God in the two testaments is related and distinct. There is sameness and difference, proximity and distance. These portrayals of God show us his revelatory message and communicative acts are contextual, yet he is not enslaved to context, but freely wields love and justice in his own fitting way.
Do you think that the God of the OT is different from the God of the NT, and if so, or if not, for what reasons?
There are three prevailing worldviews that tend to dominate the glocal context today. First, matter matters. This is the notion that all there is―is matter. Scientific hubris is attempting to capture what is, but in its reductionism and anti-theism is doomed to fail. Life is more important than matter. Second, money matters. Consumer strategies and corporate values teach us that all that’s real is―money. When money becomes a god in church, politics, economics, and society, everything is sacrificed on the altar of death and redemption is left lying in the ashes of the meltdown. People are more important than money. Third, power matters. Cutting down and shredding responsibility or anything else that stands in the way means that all that counts is―power. Explicit claims and acts of terror oppress and de-dignify an ethical imperative that is trampled by bullets and bombs. Love and justice are more important than power.
Such a lamentable concoction of worldviews is devastating, even catastrophic. Might I say - apocalyptic; borrowing a metaphor so often used to describe the fallout of what’s happening to this planet and its people at this particular moment. As, truth, love, and justice decline, partially due to the woeful state of so many churches who fall into one of the trinity of current views mentioned above, we are left to weep with the Creator and Savior. But tears should promote action to re-establish the viability of the Christian worldview and its capacity to speak a refiguration of the present world and then through an eventual face to face encounter with the Infinite and the Crucified and Risen One, lead to streams of never ending life.
Finding shelter in our world from the vacuous and inconsequential is harder and harder to do; the rhythm of trite leaves us exposed to a devaluing of heart, mind, and imagination. Rapid-fire bs captures the air waves and infiltrates our capacity to think clear and true thoughts that can be lived, in contrast to the prevailing and woeful meltdown of the critical adventure. While it’s true that criticism is never to be an end in and of itself, it is an essential component to chasten naïveté and to promote the virtuous life of following in the footsteps of Christ. Engage, critique, embrace―the Infinite One, other, and world; the given of giveness and the power of this trinity that offers us the spooky haven of relationality; the space to dwell in oneself as another.
Religious diversity is widespread today and it is often appealed to as a sufficient reason to not be committed to any one faith. What do you think of this position?
Christians need to be doing more on the social and political fronts. Our over indulgence with the internal needs of the church is woefully insufficient for what it means to be salt and light. We can do better. There could be several ways to enhance our contribution to the life of the other. Be creative and aim to act on God’s love and truth. These might helpful suggestions that could make a difference. 1) Start networks of matching needs and resources. There are plenty of resources, but they are not getting to where they can do more good. 2) Work in a local community. If we set our goals too high, we may miss those who are before us and what should be done on their behalf. Knowing what the problems are in a local context might contribute to bringing redemption to the structural and personal elements that are inadequate. 3) Set up hotlines for people who could do with help on a number of different levels and seek out volunteers to provide what they can. True, we are not going to be competent in all the areas of need, but remember love and grace can always be a welcome addition to many who are struggling with a diversity of problems. Bringing a human face and following in the footsteps of Christ will contribute to the salting and lighting of those he loves.
Scripture provides direction, but does not work out every detail, as to how we are to live in the world. Surely, there are many clear imperatives that shed light on the path and we should be grateful for the revelatory insight and knowledge we do have. Yet, the biblical text often challenges us to express these truths in compassionate and loving ways that takes the other seriously; ontologically, epistemologically, and ethically. This means that if we are to find traction, there’s no use looking for simple formulas or mechanisms. Conversely, we have to stand against that which will insulate us from the relationality that forces otherhood upon us, and see that it creates a myriad of joyfully taxing choices concerning how to live responsibly as God’s people in the twenty-first century. May we have the strength, patience, and wisdom to do so for the sake of Christ.
Do you believe that morality is inherited from our ancestors?
As readers of the Genesis creation story today we must realize that we are foreigners to the text and its ancient Near Eastern context, yet we are not excluded from engaging with its God, time, narration, and drama in a refractive spherical pattern. Refigured lives in time then become a real possibility for those readers who are grafted into the revelatory story of God’s sculpting in time, both through creation and the ever-present redemptive outpouring of love in Christ, which graciously offers a place and a role on the stage of the cosmic drama still in progress. This poetic and theologically-loaded biblical creation and redemption not only includes a narrative concordance that supersedes discordance with respect to time or changing portraits of the real world, but it also proclaims that life triumphs over death and will continue to do so throughout God’s ongoing story.