A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apocalypse Now? Syria and the Bible

Peter Enns answers the question, "What does the Bible have to say about the crisis in Syria?" His answer-- absolutely nothing. He writes,

Apparently the logic of it all goes something like this:
Syria is mentioned in the Old Testament as an object of God's wrath. 
Hey…lookie here…why of all the darndest things…a country called Syria is part of the Middle East right now and its government is doing terrible things. 
That means, clearly, that the Old Testament must be talking about our current events. After all, what other explanation could possibly account for this bizarre scenario? And so, what held then holds now: Syria needs to be bombed. I'm just going with what God says. 
Ugh, sigh, and face palm.

Ancient Israel was in almost constant conflict with someone–and in the 9th and especially the 8th centuries, Syria was a major player.

Biblical prophets, like Isaiah, spoke to these international affairs.

One of the bigger missteps in the history of the western Christian fundamentalist view of the Bible is the idea that the biblical records of ancient hostilities are simply veiled references for what is going on in whatever moment we happen to be living in.

I get the idea behind it: the Bible is God's word that "speaks to me," and so all of it, somehow, has to connect with me and my world right at this very moment. But this mentality freaks me out for several reason, including but not limited to the following:

1. This view assumes that believing that the Bible is God's word implies it must somehow be all about us. That assumption is not born from the biblical texts themselves, which say no such thing, but stems from a spiritual self-centeredness that is wrapped up in layers and layers of self-insulating theological rhetoric.

2. This view misunderstands biblical prophets as being concerned with "end times prophecies." They weren't.

3. This view encourages a view of God who is out to get the nations that are a threat to Israel, Christianity–or worse, America, which is simply assumed to be God's special little patch of ground, a "new Israel."

Pete's entire post can be read here.

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