Wednesday, October 22

Brueggemann revisited.....

"No matter who you are, if you judge anyone, you have no excuse. When you judge another person, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things." Romans 2:1 (GWT)

I am opposed to the emergent movement within the Church today; there are many articles where I have discussed that 'opposition' and consider it a false movement away from the true worship and praise of God. Though the movement's doctrines are what I believe are flawed, I've had to reexamine my opposition to some of its 'labeled' theologists, such as Walter Brueggemann, noted Old Testament theologian and scholar.

I read his book, Prophetic Imagination, for the leadership class and have another one in the 'required reading' list. One of my friends, at least I believe he is, is pursuing a Masters and studying currently under Brueggemann for what might very well be his last teaching class. Josh Graves; newly 'minted' father-to-be and minister at Rochester Church of Christ, among other noteworthy pursuits, speaks of his first class under this giant of the Old Testament and passes on some of his handwritten notes during the lecture.

You can peruse them at his blog,

One that struck a chord with me that Josh posted is:

"The Bible, just like the humans who wrote them under God's influence, is complex. Therefore, just as we move beyond judging people for their complexity, we must move beyond judging the Bible and move into a living, breathing relationship. We must allow the Bible to critique us. To ask questions we would not dare ask if left to our own devices."

Ummmmmmm, does 'WOW' really express the bingo I felt when I read that comment.....and re-read it because of whom I knew Graves spoke. I've expressed to one of my fellow brothers who is in the leadership class with me that Brueggemann bothers me....not because of what he says, per se, but rather the words and the way he says it. Psycho-babble in bibli-speak. It still does, but that comment above, along with so many others that Graves graciously imparted to his reading audience, smacks not-of-biblispeak, but of human conceptualizing of the understanding of God.

Too much longer and I'll be speaking like Brueggemann.

It is that concept that we fight against the entire time we walk this earth as Christians, 'moving beyond judging people for their complexity', and judging according to 'biblical-critiques'; agape love judging not to condemn but to restore. Not to deliver circumstances but to bring healing.

I have been getting better at it, but still cannot do such 'judging' without human influences that I have to return back to God for the process of 'weeding out.' What I worry about what Brueggemann is saying is that humans are too complex to righteously judge, i.e. we cannot declare homosexuality sin even though the Bible states that it is....and that is what confuses me about his teachings.

He says "people for their complexity" i.e. complex human beings and then "We must allow the Bible to critique us." So, is it that we, complex beings that we are, have a Absolute Truth....that is the standard to which we are to be judged? And, if so, doesn't that fly in the face of the true emergent? Who says that we, as complex human beings, cannot say with absolute certainty what is truth, because it is all subjective truth----based on one's perceptions. At least, the emergent movements I know of......

"To ask questions we would not dare ask if left to our own devices."

I agree that we, as humans, shouldn't follow our own divining, but rather stretch ourselves into the realm of the eternal and face God. But such questioning, designed to excite us as 'forbidden questions', those that we dare not ask....regardless of the context....seems to me to be dangerous.

We are not going to define, landscape, or otherwise bulid an accurate model of what God is, who God is, and how God is to act because our own linear humanity is flawed; living in a world in a design we were never intended to be in, but are because of our forefather's actions and the continuation of them throughout the generations.

There are two other comments that Graves posted on his blog that Brueggemann said. One I totally agree with and the other, totally disagree with.

"We are all selective fundamentalists. That is, we all choose which parts of the Bible we read and which parts we do not. Therefore, a healthy reader will confess to this problem, help others to see their own participation in selective reading of the Bible and courageously move forward to let all of Scripture serve as our guiding force."

This is an argument designed to cut off the opposition to anything that anyone says in doctrinal debates or theological arguments. I cannot accept one part of the bible as truth, therefore I am not a 'selective fundamentalist' and acknowledge that my human tendency is to part things according to my own need....but, pursuing God; I accept all the Bible as His word and authority....therefore I don't read selectively rather in-depth for understanding.

But, if I have a disagreement with another theologian such as a Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Islamic, or Emergent, then I am a 'selective fundamentalist' and therefore guilty.

Sometimes I enjoy the way that Brueggemann stretches me to new ways of thinking and other times, he leaves a major headache right behind the eyeballs.

"The text calls us to more freedom than we are ready to have."

I believe that Brueggemann has this dead on; we, as children of the Most High God, are called to perfection, to a freedom that lies beyond our humanity...and its ability to grasp and comprehend such freedom. It is beyond our corrupted and sinful flesh.

"The ruin of sinners is their walking after a hard and impenitent heart," Matthew Henry writes, "In the description of the just man, notice the full demand of the law. It demands that the motives shall be pure, and rejects all actions from earthly ambition or ends."

There are a bit of the absolute truth in everything theologians and teachers say, even in the false doctrines and liberal interpretations.

The key….is finding that kernel.

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