Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Lessons from the Minor Prophets

I've being leading a Bible study series on the Minor Prophets and below I've published links to the study notes I have compiled. 

Core Christianity, when I eventually understood it, was a revelation; it was as if a mist had gone from my eyes. I experienced that turn-about face which many converts know; namely, that salvation isn't about us taking the initiative and winning our stripes but rather the initiative is on God's part: Here's Romans 8:15-17

15: The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

The metaphor of adoption is a good one, particularly given the Roman culture pervading the Middle East at that time: Favoured slaves, on the behest of their masters, were sometimes adopted into their master's family thereby receiving all the rights of sons and daughters. Hence much of the connotational content  in the above passage is lost on us today.

Christianity is less something you do than it is something that is done to you on the initiative of God. For countless years the religious paradigm has been that the faithful must engage in the superstitious fetishes found in practice, belief and ritual in order to appease deity and make right the contract between God and (wo)man. But it's the other way round; it is primarily all about what God has done and not what (wo)man has done; all we need do is agree to partake of the new contract.  Wanting to become a Christian and wishing to lead a (re)new(ed) life under adoption is all that is needed to become a Christian. There then remains the question of our acceptance/adoption by God - but we know what the answer is to that. After that the details, the experiences, the formulaic doctrinal expressions and interpretations vary and are often arguable.

For many years humans have tried to fix the human-divine interface be means of tedious rule driven minutiae of practice, practice that amounts to a form of ritualistic magico-manipulation. But the interface remains broken until the psycho-spiritual engine which drives it is fixed and only God can do that. 

But let me add a circumspect rider at this point. I have met numerous Christians with a sectarian bent who will insist on imposing their proprietary facade of belief and practice on others. And if that facade doesn't graft those others are thought of as at best inferior Christians and at worst heretical blasphemers. I have to confess that there is more than one argument for the untruth of Christianity and these sectarian reactionaries are certainly one of them!

However, as one reads the minor prophets one realizes that the foregoing considerations are very old themes. These prophets understood that inner spirituality could not be fixed simply via better religious and magico-ritualistic window dressing and one of their main laments was that Judah and Israel did not understand this. Get the engine fixed and the interface will look after itself.






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