Monthly Archives: February 2011

religious judgementalism: the rob bell episode

Rob Bell has made waves in the Twittersphere and other social networks in the last 24 hours or so.

This is not really because of anything Bell has done, but because blogger Justin Taylor has accused him of being a Universalist (basically, the view that all people will be reconciled to God), a perspective apparently outlined in Bell’s forthcoming book Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

I am not interested at this point in discussing Bell or universalism; instead I simply want to voice my issue with those who have criticised him.

The most obvious problem arising is that Bell’s book is yet-to-be-released. That is to say, his critics have not yet read it! Read the rest of this entry

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creation domination?

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
– Genesis 1:28-31a

In my experience there is a lot of confusion about the meaning of the above passage from Genesis, not least in relation to the concept of “dominion”.

What is “dominion” anyway?

Some have seen it as God’s designing the world in such a way as to allow humans to rule over it and to do to it as they see fit. Such ruling is often seen as not excluding the abuse of the natural world in the name of human freedom, prosperity and comfort.

(As much as I wish this were a strawman argument, it is not…)

But this raises some logical problems in the Genesis narrative of which I will outline two. Read the rest of this entry

true “creationism” and the earth machine

Perhaps a major reason why climate change action is seen as so unnecessary by so many people is our view of our place in the world.

Indeed, the Industrial Revolution was built on the philosophy that the world works like a machine, and that it can be controlled by those who effectively see themselves as somehow separate to or greater than the great earth engine.

Such a mechanical view of the planet can be traced back to (among others) Isaac Newton and his mechanical laws of physics. Such laws reduced the world down to predictable rules.

But the world of science has changed, blown apart by Einsteinian relativity. The world and beyond is not the machine humans thought it was, and indeed it cannot be mastered the way humans thought could be done (though some will continue to say “Yes, we can!”).

The truth is that the earth is a living thing! It forms a bio-web of life which embraces millions of creatures.

Read the rest of this entry

scripture: principles or narrative?

Does anyone think there is an problem when we treat the Bible as a set of principles?

After all, the Bible as a whole forms not a constitution but a narrative.

Stories are beautiful things. They draw us into their world and have  the potential to convey experiences. This transmission leads us in turn to partake of these experiences.

Stories thus preclude abstraction. It is somewhat unnatural to spin a story into an abstract esotericism.

None of this is to say that drawing principles from the Bible is necessarily bad. However maybe we need more care and humility; care that we do not profane the beauty of the narrative with constitutional exegesis, and humility so that we do not think our principles to be as inspired as the narrative (we can always be wrong).

Of course there are parts of the Bible that are more given to the derivation of principles – proverbs, the epistles – though is it not also true that such texts find their place in the larger narrative of God’s action in history, much like a monologue in a movie.

Perhaps we should worry less about drawing principles from the Bible, which are almost always altered by our worldview as they pass from the text to current reality. Perhaps we should worry more about letting the narrative of the Bible draw us into its world, so they we might partake of its reality and bring this experience to bear on our world.

MCA

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