Thursday, August 30, 2007

What Really Matters!

I know that this is what you have all been thinking about lately... it's been keeping you all up late at night: What will the new Vancouver Canucks jerseys look like?

The Original Logo (1970s):

The 1980s/90s:

The 1990s/2000s:

AND THE NEW LOGO IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: not much different.
The Logo isn't much different. Just some colour tweaking. But the jerseys themselves look quite a bit different. Back to the original colours:
I know that there are some Caucks fans out there that check my blog. So, what do you think?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Bible as Literature

So last week I was talking to someone who had read my last post. They had noticed that when I quoted the verse from Judges that says the Hebrew slingers could spit hairs with their stones, I thought that this was an exaggeration.
But what about the inerrancy of scripture?

What do you think? Could these guys literally split hairs with their slings?

This is a constant struggle in interpreting scripture. The Bible is literature. Huge sections are written in various forms of poetry (be it epic, acrostic, chiastic, etc...). As such it is full of literary devices: metaphor, simile, hyperbole, personification, anthropomorphism, repetition (a Hebrew favourite), and so many more, especially if you know the original languages, cultures, and literary characteristics.
So, could these slingers actually split hairs or was it hyperbole (literary exaggeration)?
Does Jesus actually want us to hate our families (Luke 14:26)?
Is God really a rock (Deut 32:4)?

I think we need to acknowledge what the Bible is and what it is not.
The Bible is: a series of poems, letters, first person accounts, oral traditions, etc... of how God interacts with His creation. Based on this we can see who God is; God's Character.

The Bible is not: a science text-book. Some people have taken the idea of inerrancy (there is literally no errors in the Bible, everything is to be taken at word value) way too far by claiming that the "science" in the Bible is inerrant. That's why the church got into trouble with Galileo and Copernicus.

This could really be expanded... but not today. The point is that the Bible's value comes not from the words themselves but the person who those words point to. Behind every word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, chapter, book, and testament lies a God who wants to know us. A holy, awesome, transcendent... and personal God.

The Bible isn't authoritative just because "it's the Bible". It is the character of God that is authoritative. It is because that character is revealed to us in His Word that the Bible has authority to speak into our lives.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pet Peeve

So, last week Mike Morson posted on his blog a little commentary on the encounter between David and Goliath. You should read it: here.

Now, reading Mike's blog reminded me of something that bugs me about this story (and this has nothing to do with Mike or what he said). It really irritates me when people (mostly pastors who preach on this passage from 1 Samuel 17) play up the fact that little ol' David and his tiny pea shooter of a sling took out big bad Goliath who had all of the best armament of the day.

It's just not true.

First of all, David killed Goliath with the giant's own sword: "Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it" (1 Sam 17:51 NASB). He only knocked down Goliath with the sling (vs. 49). Sunday School has so kindly edited that part of the story out... for better or for worse.

Secondly, the sling was and is an efficient and deadly weapon. Click here if you care enough to read an article on the history of the sling in warfare. The fact is that, in the ancient world, slingers had better range and accuracy than most archers. Slingers were still used in European armies after the advent of firearms. There are records of slingers in the military up until the 17th century AD!

Michael Curtis Ford is one of the better Historical Fiction writers of our day. In his book, "The Ten Thousand" he writes about the Greek cavalry officer, Xenophon, who leads a group of Greek mercenaries to Persia and back. Both Xenophon's actual account of the events(Anabasis) and Ford's book highlight the importance of slingers in the warfare of the Ancient Near East.

Anyway, the Bible itself lends credibility to what I say:
Judges 20:16 "Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss" (NASB). Maybe slight exaggeration but you get the point.
1 Chronicles 12:2 "They were equipped with bows, using both the right hand and the left to sling stones and to shoot arrows from the bow" (NASB). Bows and slings on the same playing field.

So, the point is, that David knew what he was doing. He knew the capabilities of his weapon; he also knew that he didn't have a chance against Goliath up close. Also, it would seem as though Goliath knew what a sling was capable of as he sent his shield-bearer ahead of him (vs. 41) to cut off the angle. However, with God's help and a practiced hand David took down his enemy with a sling... and then killed him.

Sorry for the rant.
Please share your rants; do you have any pet peeves when it comes to the Bible, the Church, or religion?
How much should our Biblical education of children be edited?
There's a lot of violence and fornication in the Bible... what makes it and what doesn't?
What's our criteria?

Monday, August 13, 2007

We can be going somewhere.

This post is a continuation from the last post so you may want to read it if you haven't.
You may also want to read the comments from the last post...

How can we embrace a progressive theology while still remaining true to the infallible Word of God?

This question is addressed in William J. Webb's book, "Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals." In short, Webb's solution is to separate what is cultural from what is "transcultural" in Scripture. His method of doing so is to identify the "redemptive movement" of scripture. He says there is often a progression in scripture; an X-Y-Z kind of a movement. X= the culture of the world; Y= God's pre-Messianic Law; Z= God's post-Messianic rule. By identifying these we can see if there is any redemptive movement.

So with slavery: X= an abusive slavery without any rules; Y= a moderated, limited slavery; Z= "your slave is your brother" mentality were slavery is permitted but not condoned. Seeing this kind of progression in scripture leads us to see (in Webb's opinion) that the eventual abolition of slavery was likely part of God's grand plan.

With Homosexuality: X= complete acceptance; Y= complete rejection; Z= complete rejection. Here we can see that there is no movement. While the world around us accepts homosexuality there is no movement within scripture to allow for "progression" as some would like to call it. The only possible progression is that Y said homosexuality was a capital offense while Z would likely not call for stoning or anything of the like. None-the-less there is no indication within scripture that God's plan is to make any movement on this particular issue. Homosexuality is forbidden.

I like this approach because it allows us to view the overall scope of God's plan in scripture. The book I mentioned I found quite helpful but it does read like the textbook it is. He goes into extreme detail and uses literally dozens of examples: slavery, women's rights, homosexuality, primogeniture, patriarchy, circumcision, etc... almost anything in scripture that could be construed as being cultural (and thus, not trans-culturally authoritative).

Does this idea of "redemptive movement" make any sense to you?
What other contemporary issues might this apply to?
Am I still on crack?