Monday, February 13, 2006

The Genesis Trail of Tears

No, I am not referring either to the band Genesis or the Cherokee Trail of Tears. The biblical book of Genesis - specifically chapter 3 - is on my mind. Normally I wouldn't make one blog post after another but this struck me so forcefully I thought I'd best write it down now.

Much is said in postmodern "Christian" circles about questioning. We can't be too certain, can we? We suspect all authority, don't we? Things really aren't all that clear, even in Scripture. Are they?

In Genesis 3 is recorded the fall of man - the very episode that started mankind's downhill slide. As the well-known story goes (my, how I have come to dislike the word "story" these days), Satan approaches Eve in the Garden after God's instructions not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden...the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He begins by asking a question..."Has God said..." etc. After the guileless Eve recounted God's instruction, the Enemy followed up by a direct contradiction to what God had warned. "You surely will not die!" Well, most of us know what happened next. Eve took the fateful bite and encouraged Adam to do the same. The results have plagued mankind ever since.

I want you to look at this chain of events closely.

1. Question

2. Doubt

3. Disbelief

4. Disobedience

5. Death

The pattern has remained unbroken ever since. And now we have some who claim to be Christian ginning up the same old pattern. They begin by insisting that Scripture really isn't all that clear. "Has God said?" Yes, God DID say.

Earlier, I recalled the Scripture stating that "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. The logical opposite is that if Abraham disbelieved God, it would have been reckoned to him as unrighteousness. It is a dangerous thing to spurn the Word of God, whether it be outright rejection or by clever deconstructions or word games. We know from the testimony of our Lord Himself as well as His apostles that God takes His Word very seriously. Those who name the name of Jesus as Savior had best do the same. The five events of the chain of disbelief and disobedience end in disaster. Always.

9 comments:

crownring said...

It's interesting to see how our thoughts have been going down the same path lately, Sola. For my part, it's watching my mother's health deteriorate that reminds me of The Fall of Man and our Heavenly Father's cry of anguish "Who told you that you were naked?" Only on my part, the words "It wasn't meant to be this way!" are the words I find myself crying. There are still faint traces of the glory of Eden in the hearts of humankind.......enough at least that we know deep inside that death and distruction are not the way it's supposed to be.

Rob said...

Sola,

The problem is things aren't clear or they're contradictory especially in Genesis.

The 1'st day. How can this be literal? A day (literal 24 hour period) is relative to where you are on the earth. (The earth revolves around the sun and spins on it's axis). Except, there is no sun at this point in the story. How can it be the beginning and the end of the first day? (Time is relative, on mars a day is different then on earth).

Problem 2, vegetation apparently is created before the sun. How is this possible when photosynthesis is needed for plants to live.

The story taken literally can't be true logically. Then we have people who say you can't be a Christian without taking this literally, and thinking people say okay then I can't be a Christian.

That's why these post-modern (most highly educated generation ever!) question things so much. Because often literalists don't make sesne.

One last question, isn't your post a slippery slope to anti-intellectualism. If questions always lead to destruction then how am I supposed to learn. You should read Fit-Bodies and Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals don't think by Os Guiness. It's very good.

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

Rob,

Nice try. I just had a conversation with Os Guinness (learn to spell, okay?) the other day. He's going to be on my radio program soon, as he has several times before.

I think it's funny that this generation with which you seem so enamored considers itself educated. Funny how most college grads today would find an 8th grade exam impossible to pass. Don't get me started on education.

As to your questions on creation, Genesis etc..these have been answered in numerous books and/or forums. The problem is that you guys don't like the answer. Let me ask you one. Do you think that the fall of man and the curse over creation just might have had a tad of an impact on the way things work? Are you sure than sunlight is the only thing that can cause photosynthesis?

You guys like to ask questions like these as diversionary tactics. In true pomo fashion, you try to deconstruct and unpack everything no matter how clear it is. I liken it to throwing bags of cement into a spring. If the water is too clear, you'll do something to cloud it up and then say, "See..it's not clear."

When Jesus says "I am the door," we don't look for a knob on him, do we? Yet I have seen that example trotted out as evidence we shouldn't take Scripture literally. That's childish stupidity. I won't deny that there are some difficult passages in the Bible. However, it has been shown repeatedly that, given enough time, the wrinkles get sorted out i.e. the Hittite empire. The Bible was right after all.

This was spurred by Brian McLaren's comments on homosexuality. The Bible couldn't be any more clear on a subject, but you guys deny it. Go ahead and deny. I can't wait to see you trying to justify it to the Lord.

Rob said...

So your argument is to call me names? Boy you got me there! (Learn to reason okay?)

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

Rob,

Where did I call you names? I replied sharply, but I didn't call you any names.

I responded the way that I did because your comments drip with superciliousness. I have seen this many times with EC adherents. Their comments are couched in what seems to be a civil tone, but when you read between the lines, it's actually quite insulting.

You imply that I am on a slippery slope to anti-intellectualism (breathtaking in and of itself - anyone that knows me or who has read my posts here and elsewhere could hardly accuse me of that).

You imply that I don't think and can't reason. Just so you know for future reference, when people pop things like that at me, whether by innuendo or directly, I am going to slap back. Hard.

The intellectuals of whom you seem to think so highly are of the Jannes and Jambres variety. Always "learning" and never coming to the knowledge of the truth.

My larger point is that you guys have a low view of Scripture. You use the supposed problems with the creation account to reach the larger conclusion that you can't take the Bible's other clear statements literally, such as calling homosexuality sin. Your rejection of biblical authority is the problem.

I asked you a question about photosynthesis, which you failed to answer. Since you apparently don't know, let me inform you. Photosynthesis requires light. It doesn't HAVE to be sunlight. As you'll see from the text, there is reference to God creating light before plant life. There is nothing "illogical" about it at all.

I have no problem with people genuinely seeking or asking questions. I have a MAJOR problem when questions are asked merely to be argumentative or iconoclastic.

Rob said...

Sola,

My point is, how do you know when to take the Bible literally and when not to? When dealing with creation you have to make a LOT of leaps in logic to get that it's a literal story. (I've identified those above).

My point is, that by assuming everything is literal you turn off the unbelievers especially the intellectuals. My friends see Christianity as completely irrelevant. Taking everything literally offends them especially the picking and choosing.

Creation is literal, but the sabbath is Sunday because it's more convenient (this is in direct violation of God's law to keep the Sabbath Holy Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown). Anyone you know been stoned lately?

My point is even the most fundamentalist Christians pick and choose what they believe is literal. (Does the Kingdom have a literal door?) Who gets to say what's literal and what's not? You or your friends? Brian McClaren? Pat Robertson? Who gets to make the final decision?

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

Rob,

Out of curiosity, what is your church background? This will probably come across more harshly than I intend..in fact I don't mean it harshly at all. The questions you are asking would be answered in a good hermeneutics course or text.

I know of no one who takes EVERYTHING in Scripture literally. This is a straw man charge if I've ever seen one. There are passages that use poetic language, apocalyptic language etc. But it doesn't come without an explanation from the Lord.

It is often said that when the plain text of Scripture makes sense, seek no other sense. It is fairly obvious from the text itself as to what should be taken literally. You'll also find explanations in the text itself. For instance, when Jesus told a parable, He would explain to the disciples what it meant. When an Old Testament prophet would receive a word or vision from the Lord that contained a lot of striking imagery, the Lord would explain things after the vision. For instance, read the book of Amos. (Then the Lord said to me, "What do you see, Amos?" And I said, "A plumb line." Then the Lord said, "Behold, I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer." Amos 7:8)

In the book of Zechariah, this is done again..seeing images with the interpretation/explanation afterward. Scripture interprets Scripture.

After a while, this really becomes an exercise in childishness. "Does the Kingdom have a literal door?" Come on, Rob. I would expect Bill to make a statement like that but not you. "The sabbath is Sunday because it's more convenient." What bush did that one get picked off of? The answer to the Sabbath question is in the New Testament text - Romans 14 to be specific.

Don't you know the difference between the Law of Moses, the Mosaic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Noachide Covenant etc? The church age or age of grace? This stuff is very basic, foundational theology. It doesn't take a rocket scientist. While you will find certain doctrinal distinctions between denominations, they've been agreed on the core basics for 2,000 years unless they've gone totally apostate.

I think the main clue here is in your last paragraph. "Who gets to make the final decision?" We're talking about the Word of God, not Roe Vs. Wade. Scripture is not open to private interpretation, as the Apostle Peter makes abundantly clear.

Rob, this is ultimately all about authority and rebellion. This is the main point of the postmodern exercise. Deconstruct and unpack everything to the point of abject silliness. The goal is to undermine certainty, objectivity, authority and clarity.

In the end, it really doesn't matter if people get offended. Too bad. They'll just have to go rub their mad place. It doesn't matter whether or not they consider Christianity irrelevant. God is not going to change His Word just because the POMO crowd gets its collective undies in a bunch. It is my job as a believer to proclaim the Gospel and the truth of God's Word. The foolishness of preaching. It is up to God who gets saved, not me. We would do well to remember that.

I have no ill will toward you even though my rhetoric will be heated from time to time. I feel passionately about this because I see the damage that is being done to the church. May the Lord guide you as you seek His face and read His Word.

Rob said...

Sola,

I appreciate your comments. I suppose I get frustrated with those conservative Christians who say everything is literal and have never thought about these things (the majority).

My background is from a very conservative Baptist Church. I am well versed in Dispensational theology (including Grace) and I really do understand what you're saying. And you have said it better then most I've come into contact with.

I have rejected both conservative politics and conservative religion because too often they forget the poor. (Understand I lump myself in that as well). And they tend to be very anti-intellectual (educated liberal elite was code for democrat in your last election). Not to mention that outside the church conservative Christians aren't well liked or respected. Too much lumping in with televangelists etc. (I don't mean to offend by that comment btw).

I too am upset by what has been done to the church, by a modern culture. It has become yet another place where the consumer reigns. If the 'worship' wasn't good we send emails. If the 'speaker' stunk we don't go back. Church has become shallow and hollow and not the hope for the world.

I hope that God uses post-modernity to root out this consumer mindset. Unfortunately, present company excepted, conservative Christians have been the biggest purveyor of the consumer church. Post Modernity isn't just a rejection of truth, it's an ideal of truth. Most post moderns have rejected absolute truth because it appears to make absolutely no difference in Christian's lives. For us, orthopraxy is more important then orthodoxy. Often thinking conservative Christians have both those in the proper balance, but the majority doesn't.

Homosexuality for us is a very difficult subject. The Christian way has been to present an attitude of hate and condemnation. Yet the homosexuals look back at our evangelical churches and see that our divorce rates are higher then the culture at large. (According to Barna a few years ago). Orthodoxy and orthopraxy are completely out of balance.

For me it's not a question of morality, it's a question of attitude. We can't point fingers because our orthopraxy has been so poor our orthodoxy is completely irrelevant. That leads us to become just noise in the culture.

I'm interested in identifying with the kind of Christianity Bono talked about at the National Prayer Breakfast. If you haven't heard it go the American Rhetoric to download it. His orthopraxy seems quite in line with his orthodoxy.

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

Rob,

Got a few extra minutes..so I can reply to your earlier comments.

I sometimes wonder if we get way too hung up on labels such as "conservative." I think we tend to let our politics inform our faith rather than letting our faith inform our politics. When one hears "conservative" or "liberal," it brings a knee-jerk reaction because of the heightened political climate. I would much rather be biblical. You could call me very conservative doctrinally, but that is because of being a biblicist rather than political. Not that I don't have political views..of course I do. But the Bible must come first in shaping my viewpoints.

When you say you reject conservative politics and conservative religion because they neglect the poor, I have trouble seeing that. No one who takes Scripture seriously would neglect the poor. However, my taking the poor seriously does not mean that I will necessarily support a liberal political solution to dealing with poverty. The same Bible that speaks of remembering the poor and caring for them also has sharp words about people who won't work. Balance is the key.

I'll never forget something that happened to my when I was in my 20s and lived in California. I was working at a Christian radio station on the night shift when a hobo-like person came knocking. He told me he didn't have anything to eat. I gave him $10 and told him to go get something to eat. Later, the manager told me I should not have done that as the first thing the hobo would do is go buy booze instead of food. It would have been better to go with him to a food place and buy him something rather than just giving him the money. I meant well, but was very naive. We should indeed help those who can't help themselves, but we also should not enable people in behavior that results in their poor condition. That's not being conservative or liberal. It's being biblical and using common sense.

As to conservative Christians being disliked, what else is new? (smile) If you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, you will be persecuted. I wish I could ditch the "conservative" label here because it's really being biblical. The world does not like being confronted with its sin. They hated Jesus, who talked more about hell than anyone in the New Testament, and they will hate Christians as well. The only Christians they would like would be the ones who have compromised.

Are you sure you would say postmodernism is an ideal of truth? How can you have an ideal of truth when you deny that objective truth can be known? Whether it makes a difference in Christians' lives (arguable) is really irrelevant to whether there is absolute truth or not. I could tell you it's against the law to run a red light, and then go out and run one in plain view. That would show me up to be hypocritical, but it doesn't change the fact that it is against the law to run the red light.

It's much the same with the homosexual issue. Sin is sin, and the Christian needs to confront sin no matter what it is. If people are acting in hate, then that is not Christlike. Calling sin sin is not being hateful or unloving. Even if the divorce rates are higher than the culture at large, that does not legitimize homosexuality. I would be unloving if I fail to warn a sinner of the consequences of his sin. Those of us who are Christians are sinners also. We're beggars, but we know where the bread is.

I think orthodoxy and orthopraxis go hand in hand. I really believe the whole argument is basically the same "liberal theology vs. conservative theology" that raged during the 1960s. The liberals got so cranked about social issues that they forgot the Gospel. The conservatives got so cranked at the liberals over their theology that they tended to distance themselves from the social issues that concerned the liberals. What did Jesus say? "You should have done the former without neglecting the latter."

I hope this illustrates my thinking more clearly. By all means, feed the poor, clothe the naked and heal the sick. But don't sweep the life-changing Gospel out the door. The Gospel is priority one. All the rest falls into place.