Reading The Genesis Creation Stories

Orwell's Animal Farm: It's original title

Orwell’s Animal Farm: It’s original title

When I teach the Genesis creation stories, I always begin with the proposition that we ought to read these two narratives as symbolic, not literal. To be more specific, I draw a simile between the Genesis stories and George Orwell’s Animal Farm by claiming that to read the creation stories as historically true events is like reading Animal Farm as a factually accurate picture of what happens when animals take over a farm.

In the video below, N.T. Wright also expresses this same sentiment. When  reading the Genesis creation stories as literary, largely symbolic works, a deeper, richer vision of God and His holy word emerges. It’s about 5 minutes long and worth your time if you’re serious about understanding this alternative to plumbing the depths of the Bible as God’s revealed word.

One of the advantages to reading the Genesis creation stories as N.T. Wright would recommend, (and as I believe they were originally intended to be understood) is that the truths of God’s revelation encounters no contradiction with scientific findings. Nor can this way of reading the Bible be reconciled with scientific observations. The findings of science (how the universe works) and the revelations of Genesis (the purpose of the universe) seek to answer different questions. As allegories, the reader is invited to ponder the metaphysical truths being conveyed — the transcendence of God, the consequences of free will, and the human’s role as vice regent of God’s creation.

As for evangelical outreach, imagine not having to justify to a critical thinking non-believer that whether the universe was created in 7 days or 13.6 billion years is irrelevant to the truths God wishes to reveal.

Posted in Bible Study, Genesis, Old Testament | Leave a comment

Lost In Translation

mistranslation

Courtesy of the http://www.lonelyplanet.com/blog/

My two latest column titled, “Lost in Translation I and Lost in Translation II” are now available. For previous articles you can look here.

As you read these, think about what you’ve learned about the seventh day of creation as the Sabbath day. You may be surprised to learn that there is a profoundly deeper meaning to the Sabbath that points the way for human flourishing.

Posted in Hebrew language, Translation | Tagged | Leave a comment

Is Male-Male Homosexuality Forbidden?

male-maleI’m in the process of moving a number posts and articles that appeared in a previous (local-hosted) version of this website. This paper (see link below) was written when I served on our synod’s committee studying the issue of gay marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals.

It presents what I would argue is the correct view of the Levitical texts cited as prohibiting homosexual behavior.

Abstract

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 have been interpreted as constituting a general prohibition against male homosexuality. I show in this paper that the prohibition is exquisitely specific in that it applies only to anal sex between two males.

The paper is technical, but an easy read if you care to trust my translation. If you find the going heavy, post a note in the comments section and I’ll try to explain it as best I can.

Male-Male Homosexual Intercourse

Now, go and study

Posted in Biblical culture, Moral values, Sexuality, What the Bible Really Says | Leave a comment

Spiritual but not Religious

spiritual-v-religous

I would like to direct you to David Mills’ article, Spirituality Without Spirits in which Mr. Mills deconstructs the claim of being “spiritual but not religious“. He sets the stage thus:

So we find Lady Gaga, the pornographic songstress, telling a reporter for The Times that she has a new spirituality just before taking her out for a night at a Berlin sex club. Asked by the reporter, “You were raised a Catholic — so when you say ‘God,’ do you mean the Catholic God, or a different, perhaps more spiritual sense of God?”, she responded, “More spiritual. . . . There’s really no religion that doesn’t hate or condemn a certain kind of people, and I totally believe in all love and forgiveness, and excluding no one.”

I don’t think Ms. Gaga or anyone else who talks like this has really thought it through. That God who forgives everyone and excludes no one doesn’t object to debauches in Berlin sex clubs — a point in His favor  from [Lady Gaga’s] point of view. But then He doesn’t object to murderers and torturers and corrupt bankers either. A point in His favor from no one’s point of view.

It’s a somewhat long article, and if you are not inclined to clink the link above, here is his conclusion – take it to heart

The man wasting away from pancreatic cancer will get no help nor comfort from the “spiritual,” which will seem a lot less friendly and comforting when he feels pain morphine won’t suppress. He has no one to beg for help, no one to ask for comfort, no one to be with him, no one to meet when he crosses from this world to the next. [Such a man] wants what religion promises.

And he is right to do so. The dying man is the true man, in the sense of being the one who reveals to us what we essentially are. We are on our death bed from the day we are born. To paraphrase Pascal, dying men want not the God of spirituality, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Now, go and study

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