Thursday, November 18, 2010

Update

It's been awhile since I posted here. I've been more focused on reading than writing lately. I'm trying to give some attention to my questions about who Jesus really was as well as the historicity of his resurrection. I'm trying to study these questions within the larger context of the 1st century Mediterranean world. It is very timely that DagoodS recently posted on similar themes. Additionally, Richard Beck recently reviewed Jesus: A Revolutionary Life by Dominic Crossan. This is the book I happen to be reading now. It's my literary interlude as I slog through NT Wright's book, Resurrection of the Son of God.

In other news, my husband has been more actively pursuing his own questions about God. He is more engaged in the question of why we don't always experience the presence or love of God. He found a song which really resonated with him. He even bought a ring and had the inside engraved with the title of the song,
The Silence of God.

In the past, the love of God seemed evident to me in the gift of salvation to all, answered prayer, and loving relationships with others, which appeared to be a reflection of His love for us all. Now, the belief that salvation resulted from the death of an innocent man as well as the belief that we are being saved from a torment created by God appears to be anything but loving. I don't know how much I believe in answered prayer as I have difficulty accepting God as capriciously fixing minor problems like lost car keys while ignoring major ones such as a tyrant oppressing an entire country. Prayer does not appear to be moving mountains. However, I certainly do experience the love of others on a daily basis. If anything does leave me with a faith in something/someone transcendent and benevolent, it would be my relationships with loving, thoughtful, giving others. Of course, this still leaves me with making sense of all the ugly, evil experiences I have had and witnessed in this world. So, in the meantime, I will do my best to be aware of all the beauty and love in this world and to reflect it back in my own life. Surely, I can't go wrong there, can I?

6 comments:

  1. Wow - I read the review by Beck. It just seems to me that there is just not enough evidence to say that Jesus was indeed resurrected. Wasn't the idea that the body was missing (i.e. women are reliable witnesses) one of the major apologetic arguments for the validity of the Gospel story? Beck seems to overlook this fact.

    On another note, I haven't had much time to read lately. I've been meaning to email to give you an update. I read the Mark D Roberts book and all I have left right now from the library is the big book by Wright..but my motivation is minimal.

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  2. If one is attempting to familiarize themselves with First Century Mediterranean, the absolute MUST HAVE book is Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels.

    Although a commentary, you can read this cover-to-cover quite easily. Personally, I would recommend one steps away from N.T. Wright and head in this direction first. I guarantee you will not read the New Testament again in the same light.

    Also, I listened to a course on Roman History off iTunesU that gave some good information regarding Roman culture. Emperors, client states, pater familias, slaves, and their treatment of religion. Good, too, to hear how historians question other sources of the time (Tacitus, Suetonius), yet maintain a core historicity.

    Since I know no one else ever recommends books to you….*wink*

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  3. I have been reading your blog for awhile now and have really enjoyed seeing how you think (seeing that you think, that is becoming a rarity in our world).  I too have been struggling with the apparent incongruity of a God that can be classified as being all loving with a God that could conceive of a place of eternal torment.  You stated:

    Now, the belief that salvation resulted from the death of an innocent man as well as the belief that we are being saved from a torment created by God appears to be anything but loving.

     

    In my own search I am beginning to question my own doubts about the existence of Hell.  I was taught that the thing that makes Heaven such a wonderful place is the fact that God is there and Hell is so awful because of God’s absence.  If that is true (big if I know), than could it be that C.S. Lewis got it right when he said that all the locks on the doors of Hell are on the inside?  If Hell is the absence of God, can He really be said to have created it?

    Thank you for your thoughts and insight, I look forward to reading more of your blog.

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  4. Like A Child,
    I've been wondering how you've been, so I welcome your email whenever you get a chance. The last post by Beck addressed the last part of the book, which I haven't read yet. I'll comment more on it when I finish it. I don't know what to think of the resurrection. However, I don't think it's a slam dunk for the apologists like they often portray it.

    DagoodS,
    I've actually read part of the commentary you suggested. I had checked it out of the library and didn't get to finish it. You're right though, it's a very helpful book that I need to finish. I'll just have to buy it as it would likely be a good reference to have around permanently. As I've been reading Crossan, I've noticed he addresses some of the same themes that Malina discusses, such as the shame and honor culture of the first century Mediterranean world.

    I haven't tried iTunesU, but I see it in my future. I could actually get some dishes washed while studying.

    Anonymous,
    CS Lewis certainly provides a more palatable way to view Hell. However, I don't know that I see it actually portrayed that way in scripture. That being said, I haven't really studied the topic in depth so I may recant at a later date. I can't say that I believe much in Hell anymore, but that may be a post for another time. The study of the development of hell and heaven and resurrection over time both in and outside the Bible is another area I'd like to study soon. I'd be interested in any insights or study you have done on the topic and what your conclusions are. I always look forward to hearing from you.

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  5. Hi,
    It's funny because when you said that "Prayer does not appear to be moving mountains" and it brought me back to a few books I have been reading regarding re-thinking the Christian life and interpretation of the Bible. Basically the author says that Christians should maybe be more concerned about the world and trying to fix it; and less concerned about who is or is not going to heaven or hell... sort of a "blessed are the peacemakers" kind of a thing. I thought it something worth considering, anyway. Does God expect us to try to fix some of this stuff? Maybe...
    Looking at Anonymous' note, it's also interesting because this same author hypothesizes that eternity is a matter of perception- that if you have lived a life where you love God and love people then eternity with God is good; if you don't you may perceive it as something threatening and uncomfortable. I thought it was an interesting theory anyway. It would explain some things.

    If your husband is open to it, I'd suggest reading Mother Theresa:Come be my light. This is a collection of her private writings: it addresses one view of the question your husband has.I found it fascinating.

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  6. IsToo,
    Thanks for stopping by. It's funny you mentioned, Come be my light. I was just mentioning to a friend that I'd like to read it. I'll suggest it to my husband, though he's good about reading the blog and will likely see your suggestion himself.

    I like the idea of focusing more on creating heaven here rather than spending all our energy on considering the afterlife. The person who spends their time helping others seems to be displaying more love (a core Christian trait) than those who spend their time arguing about doctrine.

    I've pondered the thought before that if you don't love God or worshipping Him you're unlikely to enjoy heaven much given Revelation's depiction of it as a perpetual worship service. I really don't know what to make of heaven any more than hell to be honest. To be super honest, I don't know even as a Christian how I feel about a perpetual worship service. Also, when my dad died, I surprised myself by experiencing the feeling for the first time that I would actually like to be in heaven. When I envisioned my dad there, I realized it actually seemed safe and welcoming for the first time in my life. That probably says more about me and my concept of God than I even know.

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