The reason the opening chapters of Genesis look so much like the literature of ancient Mesopotamia is that the worldview categories of the ancient Near East were ubiquitous and normative at the time. Of course, different cultures had different myths, but the point is that they all had them…What makes Genesis different from its ancient Near Eastern counterparts is that it begins to make the point to Abraham and his seed that the God they are bound to, the God who called them into existence, is different from the gods around them…The biblical worldview described in Genesis is an Ancient Near Eastern one. But the ordering of the world (e.g., the separation of water from land) did not result from a morbid conflict within a dysfunction divine family, as we read in Enuma Elish. It was simply this amazing God who spoke. Peter Enns ☀
The newfound evidence for the cultural settings of the Bible led many to conclude that the Bible is essentially defined by these cultural factors. The ‘context of Scripture’ became the primary determining factor in defining what the Bible is…The conservatives’ reaction was also problematic in that it implicitly assumed what their opponents also assumed: the Bible, being the word of God, ought to be historically accurate in all its details (since God would not lie or make errors) and unique its own setting (since God’s word is revealed, which implies a specific type of uniqueness)…Conservatives have tended to employ a strategy of selective engagement, embracing evidence that seems to support their assumptions…but retreating from evidence that seems to undercut these assumptions. Peter Enns ☀
The story in Genesis is a story (full of the deepest suggestion) about a magic apple of knowledge; but in the developed doctrine [of the Fall] the inherent magic apple has quite dropped out of sight, and the story is simply one of disobedience. I have the deepest respect even for Pagan myths, still more for myths in Holy Scripture. I therefore do not doubt that the version which emphasises the magic apple, and brings together the trees of life and knowledge, contains a deeper and subtler truth than the version which makes the apple simply an solely a pledge of obedience. But I assume that the Holy Spirit would not have allowed the latter to grow up in the Church and win the assent of great doctors unless it also was true and useful so far as it went. It is this version which I am going to discuss, because, though I suspect the primitive version to be far more profound, I know that I, at any rate, cannot penetrate its profundities. C.S. Lewis ☀
I think that reading the Gospels for what they’re really saying threatens to upset and destabilize our church community dynamics that have become predictable and comfortable. Contemporary Christians—evangelicals included—are too threatened by the Gospels to read them for what they’re actually saying. Tim Gombis (via slacktivist) ☀
And if there’s anything I’ve learned from years of Bible reading, it is that God is always on the side of the oppressed. From the Samaritans to the Jews to the Gentiles to women and children, God is the champion of the downtrodden. And we must be, too – even if it means holding an abuser at arm’s length so we may more fully embrace the one he abused. Loving at Arm’s Length (via slacktivist) ☀
lataaache-deactivated20130210 asked: This is just in about the article you reblogged about Christian views on homosexuality.I was a little surprised.. Because in all honesty, the Bible does actually say that homosexuality is a sin, more than once. And because the core of being a Christian is studying the Bible and taking it to be God's inerrant Word, it's contradictory to have Christians reading it selectively, and thinking homosexuality is okay. But it doesn't mean they hate gay people either.. "Hate the sin, love the person"!
I will “outsource” this query to Robert Farrar Capon:
The Old Testament condemns usury and permits slavery; but Christians now read Scripture as allowing interest on loans and forbidding the ownership of other human beings. If you take both of those readings as the finally delivered Word of God Written on the subjects in question, you have a problem. But if you view those Old Testament prescriptions as amniotic fluid and the New Testament ones as the child who was in the womb of Scripture all along, your problem is solved. You discard the former and keep the latter.
Or, to take a harder case, consider another conflict. Both the Old and the New Testaments disapprove (to say the least) of homosexual relationships; but many Christians, myself included, now see that position as untenable in the light of the delivered Word’s drawing of all persons to himself. Naturally, if you’re locked into reading every scriptural pronouncement as literal truth, you have to condemn same-sex marriages, no matter how committed the partners may be to the Bible’s standards of fidelity and charity. But if you can see your first reading as a culturally determined shadow of the way things ought to be (that is, an umbilical cord which served to nourish the values of marriage back then), and the second reading as the true and final image of how all sexual commitment now stands in the presence of the Word himself as finally revealed, same-sex marriages cease to be a difficulty for you. As I said, that’s a harder case. If you’re not with me on it, I understand perfectly. Even if we both accept the image of Scripture as the womb of the Word, you’re free to say that those disapprovals aren’t just an umbilical cord to be disposed of, they’re the Word himself speaking. But the image also leaves me free to see things the other way around. The beauty of thinking in images is that we can agree to disagree without having to run each other off the farm.
Being different is no crime. Being gay is not a sin. And for a gay person to desire and pursue love and marriage and family is no more selfish or sinful than when a straight person desires and pursues the very same things. The Song of Songs tells us that King Solomon’s wedding day was the “the day his heart rejoiced.” To deny to a small minority of people, not just a wedding day, but a lifetime of love and commitment and family is to inflict on them a devastating level of hurt and anguish. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that Christians are called to perpetuate that kind of pain in other people’s lives rather than work to alleviate it, especially when the problem is so easy to fix. All it takes is acceptance. The Bible is not opposed to the acceptance of gay Christians, or to the possibility of loving relationships for them. And if you are uncomfortable with the idea of two men or two women in love, if you are dead-set against that idea, then I am asking you to try to see things differently for my sake, even if it makes you uncomfortable. I’m asking you to ask yourself this: How deeply do you care about your family? How deeply do you love your spouse? And how tenaciously would you fight for them if they were ever in danger or in harm’s way? That is how deeply you should care, and that is how tenaciously you should fight, for the very same things for my life, because they matter just as much to me. Gay people should be a treasured part of our families and our communities, and the truly Christian response to them is acceptance, support, and love. Matthew Vines: The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality (via youtube.com) ☀
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