My Biggest Hurdle

The hardest thing for me to do is to let someone else go on being wrong.

I’ve often said that people who think they know everything are a pain in the neck to those of us who really do.

So today, my challenge is to live by the phorism that says silence is golden.

Discipleship

I’m thinking a lot about discipleship; specifically, I’m thinking about what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus in today’s world. In fact, I’m committed to writing sort of a white paper on the subject for our group ministry at church. Maybe “white paper” sounds too fancy; it’s probably more like an article for the use of group leaders.

Jobs like this are way big in my mind. The perpetual weariness that comes with my disease makes the task seem almost overwhelming. I’m hoping for some moments of clarity and mental energy.

My study right now is in Zechariah, which doesn’t really seem like a book about discipleship, but in a way it is. Zechariah is a post-exilic prophet and he is urging the people who have come to Jerusalem to not only rebuild the temple, but also to rebuild their relationship to Yahweh. That’s discipleship, isn’t it?

Anyway, one of my commentaries this morning hit the right note:

Faith in God’s sovereignty is essential to the walk of faithfulness as we await the return of Christ. The words of the apostles in Acts powerfully express such faith for us as Christians. Fresh from persecution they “raised their voices together in prayer to God” and began with the simple cry: “Sovereign Lord” (Acts 4:23–30). May that also be our cry as the people of God.

Mark J. Boda, Haggai, Zechariah, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2004), 208. [Emphasis mine]

I love that phrase, the walk of faithfulness. I tend to say “the walk of faith”, rather than faithfulness, but Boda is right to put the emphasis on the way we live.

That, too, is discipleship, isn’t it?

macOS

Are you upgrading to Monterey? I think I’ll wait for Bakersfield.

Truly, this is a big IT day for me. Three Monterey installations. Three iOS/iPadOS installations. Two watchOS installations. Whew. I’ll be ready for bed.

Historical Adam

At a recent dinner meeting with friends, Tom asked me if I thought Job was a historical figure or not. We discussed the possibilities for a while, and agreed that a good interpretation of the biblical documents did not necessarily require a historical Job, but neither did they preclude Job being a real human being and his story being historical.

Then Tom asked if I thought there was a historical Adam. We agreed that this was an entirely different type of question. I said I hadn’t thought too much about it. Tom came down on the side of a historical man and woman who were the progenitors of all humans.

I just finished reading Craig, William Lane. In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2021.

First of all, it was a fascinating read for someone like me with a decided technical bent. Probably it would be difficult for someone who little technical background. For a guy whose background is theology and philosophy, Craig has played a pretty robust technical game with this book.

Now, Tom will be pleased to know that Craig favors a historical Adam and Eve. Not only will this please Tom, but most people who treat the early Genesis material as historical, as well. But it will not please the young earth creationists at all.

The reason for this is that Craig has to place the historical Adam at over half a million years ago, probably between a million and three-quarters of a million years ago. That will not fit with Bishop Ussher’s chronology by any stretch of the imagination.

Furthermore, the surprising upshot of this is that Adam and Eve were not Homo sapiens. Rather, they were of the species that is the common ancestor of both Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalis, along with some other extinct species of modern man.

This scenario requires that Neanderthals were fully human, made in the image of God. But of course they became extinct, but not before passing a lot of genetic material to us through interbreeding with sapiens.

It also requires that the large majority of the precursor species (Homo heidelburgensis) was not human. That is, members of that species had great rational abilities, but did not have a soul and did not know right from wrong. They were beasts.

But something happened and a single pair of them had a genetic switch turned on (a physical change) and at the same time were given souls (a spiritual change). The physical change was probably not a chance event, but was caused by an intervention by God, a bit of divine genetic engineering.

This is a perfectly acceptable idea to most evolutionary creationists. Adam and Eve were the original GMOs.

Then Adam and Eve and their progeny had to be isolated sexually from non-human homonins, probably because their self-awareness made them so different that they went to some place to be alone and build their family. Eventually, the other species all died out.

In the end, you’d have to say that Craig is saying that there is a possibility that all people today descend from a single pair. Most geneticists say that we came from a population of a few thousand, at the least. Craig has studied the statistical genetics and sees another way of interpreting the data.

As I say, this book is a fascinating read. Craig himself says that the quest for the historical Adam will never end. But this is a delightful addition to the literature of the quest.

Me? I’m not sure yet that Craig is reading Genesis 1-11 in the right way. I’m also not sure that he isn’t. I will be eager to hear what Tom thinks.

Writing

I haven’t written here for a couple weeks. I’ve been thinking hard about that. A dozen times I’ve said to myself, “That deserves a blog post”, but I have held back.

It turns out that there are people who think I’ve gone liberal or something because of some of my posts. Most of these people have their politics so mixed up with their religion that they can’t tell the difference. That is a big problem to me.

So, I stopped writing.

I will try to figure out a path for the future of my writing. One thing I know for sure: this will be the last time I crosspost to Facebook. In the future, if you want to read what I write, you will have to check here on my website. I’d suggest getting some sort of RSS feed reader to let you know when there is something new.

For those of you who like what I write, thank you. That means a lot.

Inspirational

The Bible is inspired, but not everything in it is inspirational.

I’ve never been inspired by the long lists of genealogies in various places in the Old Testament. I’ve never been inspired by the minutiae of law in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Just two examples.

Some people read the Bible only to be inspired. They must either be disappointed sometimes, or else they must really stretch to pretend to be inspired. I’m reading a commentary on Ezra-Nehemiah that goes out of its way to provide inspirational applications of the current passage. They generally fall flat, to me at least.

I’d encourage people to read the Bible for more than being inspired to get through another day. Read it to grow your noodle and your commitment to the one who inspired the book.

Interpretation and Metaphor

Many people interpret the Bible without noticing the metaphors in what they are reading. They think they are doing a literal reading, but really they are ignoring the plain meaning of the text.

What we read is what the author wrote.

The next step is to figure out why the author wrote it the way it is written, what the author meant to communicate, and how the author expected readers to receive it.

That step is where the problems often come in. For example, let’s look at Proverbs 5:15-20 (this is the NRSV):

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for sharing with strangers.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
May her breasts satisfy you at all times;
may you be intoxicated always by her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, by another woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress

It is not a literal reading to see this passage as discussing the water supply and fauna and alcoholic stupor.

The advice is for a man to stick to his wife less she decide to be unfaithful herself. Let the marriage remain pure for life. Don’t let it become stale. Keep it spicy.

This one is easy. Not too many people will misread this one unless they are simply obtuse. But the same principle applies to the rest of the Bible too.

Biblical literacy includes the ability to read properly and not be stupid.

Expressive Individualism: Our Twenty-First Century American Ba’al

Expressive Individualism: Our Twenty-First Century American Ba’al:

Scripture teaches that all people are religious. We are always worshiping; we are always orienting our hearts either toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or towards false gods such as Ba’al. Yet, unlike the people of the Ancient Near East, our idols are not usually shaped in the image of a golden calf. Instead, our idols tend to be metaphorical; we give our love, trust, and obedience to things in this world such as sex, money, power, and the approval of others.


What, then, should we make of the American Ba’al of EI [Expressive Individualism]? We should reject it. We should be guided by Scriptural teaching about God’s desire for an individual’s life and by its view of the individual’s value within broader communities and, specifically, within the community that is the people of God. We are all immersed in an era of EI, affected by it unaware. So, it will be difficult not to worship at its altar, even if only unconsciously.

The Church and the Depressing Speed of Change | Andrew Root

Interesting concept here: a depressed church.

The Church and the Depressing Speed of Change | Catalyst Resources Catalyst Resources:

Being too fatigued to be the church is a challenge. When a congregation seems to be falling behind its most often assumed that what it needs is change. Perhaps, at some level change is needed, but the pursuit of change runs the ever-present risk of producing depression. If we fail to keep up, finding ourselves falling behind, depression will meet us. This fashions in us the very opposite disposition than what is needed to meet the challenges brought by changes in our culture.

For church consultants and denominational leaders to call congregations to change is to risk something significant. It opens them to communal depression, producing the opposite of what they need to meet their challenge: despondency. Church consultants risk moving the congregation into a vicious cycle that is too often misunderstood as a straight line. The consultant is often called in when a congregation has either fallen behind or is too obdurate to meet the challenges of a changing world. The consultant leads the congregation in a process of speeding up, offering new models to speed them up to meet change. And then leaves, moving on to another congregation needing change. That feels like a straight line.

  • Point A: the church is stuck.

  • Point B: give it the strategies to get unstuck.

  • Point C: so that it can meet the speed of change.

  • Point D: move on (and return periodically to tweak the strategies, asking the congregation to speed up further, then move on again).

But once the congregation is up to speed, it needs to forever maintain that speed, and also continually increase the speed year after year.

Red Sox

I’m going to wear my Boston Red Sox cap all day. It doesn’t always help the team when I do that, but I have hope. This evening they need to defeat the rival Yankees to proceed in the playoffs.