Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Living Spiritual Rhythms - February 6

We are damaged agents - like leaves fluttering in the winds of time. Pain, anger, and tragedy may beset us and it is helpful, through not always satisfactory, to know that we’re in the good company of Sarah, Job, Jeremiah, Mary, and Jesus. Their plight and its expression may be preserved for us for a reason. That is, we too may clamor for forms of speech that will give voice to our cry in the wilderness, as we long to be heard, responded to, released, and redeemed.


Rhett & Valerie said...

Thanks for this. One question I’ve been thinking through lately (though this may be taking your question in a direction you weren’t intending) is “How do we read the Bible in a way that is sensitive to its human dimensions (e.g. narratives, parables, poetry) without allowing this to eclipse what God, the primary actor, is doing in the Scriptures? The Bible is not a book that simply provides a set of propositions about who God is, but neither is it merely a human document that records human history from a purely human perspective. We are clearly meant to identify with its human elements and characters (like Sarah, Job, Jeremiah, etc); yet, the text is also providing us with a larger, more comprehensive divine perspective, and it is this vantage point that the text calls us to adopt for ourselves. To put it another way, the biblical text is historically bound (in that it was written to a particular audience in the past), but constitutes part of God’s ongoing action in the world. How, then, do we read the text in ways that lead us to identify with and learn from the characters in the biblical story, while also recognizing that we currently are in a different “act” of salvation history where God engages with and relates to humanity in ways that are both similar and dissimilar to his actions in Scripture?

Greg said...

Thanks. Good comment and questions. I'm wagering there are different types of reading: theological, cultural, social, anthropological, and so forth. One of the issues we have to contend with is that God often does his acting - communicating through human agency. The more comprehensive divine perspective you mention is expressed through people, culture, and history, yet there are certain truths that are transcultural and transhistorical. Let's suppose we can refer to these as theological truths, which are sometimes embedded in historical contexts. So, I think we have to read the biblical text in a variety of ways, similar in diversity to the way we should read our own lives. Monologues won't do. Being attuned to literary genres can be helpful, but I'm beginning to wonder if we shouldn't also move in the direction of attempting to formulate categories for say Paul's letters. Something like theological, historical, creational, salvific, anthropological, etc. This might help us start to sort through the "similar and "dissimilar" to some degree. Alls or nothings seem far from the mark.

One of my questions pertains to God's doing, engaging, relating, in short, divine action. Seems to me that Christians are often working with some form on "interventionist" model based on classical physics. We need to do better.

Well, this probably has not responded to your questions, but hopefully there's something here to consider. E-mail me if you want to go further.

carter said...

Dear Greg:
I have often wondered about the issues of suffering in scripture. One thing that I keep coming back to is that Paul says when we are raised from the dead, we will have a body like Jesus after his resurrection. The oddity is that this perfect body had scars from the nails and the spear. So, is suffering a part of our perfection?

Greg said...

Thanks. Good question. Yes, it seems like there will be body continuity and discontinuity in the resurrection. Not sure about a perfect body, but maybe Jesus has a body that is fit for life in the possible world where he now exists.

It would seem like a new body continuity could carry the marks of suffering into the discontinuity. But Jesus was exceptional and I assume that while there are deep connections between us and him, there are also some disconnections. To suffer, in one way or another, may be part of the sanctification process.

Not sure this responds to you very well, but I hope there is something here worth reflecting on further.