Monday, March 14, 2016

Reflection for the Week - March 14

Evangelicals and fundamentalists affirm something like: We don’t interpret the Bible; we just read it for what it says, as an authoritative text in all matters. In contrast to this, I’d wager the biblical text is incapable of giving an entirely reliable picture of the Seen and Unseen worlds. Let’s not make it out to be a metanarrative (a comprehensive and complete depiction or authority in every area). That simply will do more harm than good. The text expresses things from a cultural repertoire and an environment of beliefs that is suited for its times, but in some instances may surpass them. Given that, it means there’s work to do in sorting through which is which. There was, for example, superstition in Israel about a proper burial if one was to be able to sleep with one’s ancestors. And so that relatives would not be haunted by lurking ghost-like phantoms. The earth was also viewed as stable and unmovable. Most of us have now figured out that things don’t look like that or work that way. Further, God didn’t seem too concerned to change or override these contexts where the biblical writers are simply misinformed about the configuration of the natural world. Yet, there is also in the biblical story a revelatory theology which unfolds and is not limited by place and time, semi-culminating in the Crucified and Risen One, while going on to offer an even grander “possible world” picture of the future. God is not out to simply restore the past, but at some point will produce something entirely new. We await renewal in faith, still attempting in the now to describe something of what that looks like. Thus, like it or not the biblical text has to be interpreted, which leaves us with the task of sifting out the wheat from the chaff and making decisions about the limited character of cultural perspectives and the viability of transcultural theological trajectories.