Tuesday, February 15, 2011

God Created

There are some texts in scripture that we keep coming back to. Like an old mine, that shows the signs of years of use, but draws us back to repeated labor, it holds many more treasures. So it is with some personal texts. These may reflect our life message. They may reveal our spiritual passion. Or they may be the matrix that releases faith for our journey of obedience.

"In the beginning God created..." Gen 1:1 is one of those for me. At first glance it is a simple historical fact that announces the author of the ages, the origin of man. That is a wondrous and glorious sanity. We have a story as we have a history. Inadvertently, that is quite a childlike in approach as it reflects us managing the text through the lenses of the meaning of humanity. It is a good conversation but it is only the beginning - a very cool beginning.

Mark Driscoll in his book on 'Doctrine' takes us to the ancient writings of the Jewish Targum to bring another dimension to this text. By the process of 'synonymous parallelism' , the text also allows us to say that 'in the beginning' can be rewritten "by the first born". Therefore we can write it as follows "In the beginning, by the first born" which of course is very empowering for the Christ lover. This places the Trinity there in the beginning. It announces to the reader that we are on a pathway of Trinitarian discovery and foundation. This places the persons of the Trinity as the central underlying weight of the passage which makes God the focus of the text. [If you are uncomfortable with this approach, the Trinity is evident there anyway as 'God created...Spirit hovered... God said-Jesus is the Word]

This piece of sacred writing does not only reveal his person/s. It also reveals his ways. Our human bent is to control the climate of a story. We want to be in charge. We want to manage our world. Some would certainly argue it is the cause of the garden rebellion - 'we would become like god, creating our own reality'. It is therefore difficult for all of us to live with God's ongoing creativity as it takes control out of our hands.

Church history is an account of God repeatedly breaking into human history with acts that surprise, delight, infuriate, frustrate, amaze. God has ways . He does not have methods. To speak in terms of "the model," "the pattern," by implying that there is a 'one size fits all' notion of God, reflects ignorance of theology and church history.

Some may find these comments a little outrageous. Let me explain further. There are river banks. These hold the life of God so that that does not end in a marsh. There are the vertebrae of the church, whereby the church is held together around the revelation of elders, deacons and the priesthood. The life of God then spins uniquely around these non-negotiables. The scripture defines marriage as between a man and a woman — but each relationship is remarkably different and colorful.

"In the beginning God created..." speaks of God the artist. It speaks of him painting his mercies new every morning. It announces his gatherings of the saints are full of surprises and God interruptions. It proclaims marriage that oozes romance and affection. It trumpets uniqueness and diversity. Each person is different. Every marriage is different. Every family is different. Every community is different [no branding please]. Every style is different. Every approach is different. Every set of eyes are different....

I love this God...


  1. Thanks for the further clarification. The question arises within me: "How can I discipline my spiritual eyes to stay focused on the essential essence of Christ in us - and not be distracted onto non-relevant issues?"
    One dramatic distortion that stands out is that the Lutheran state church in Germany will excommunicate someone who gets baptised in water by full immersion - but will allow their ministers to live together with their homosexual partners.

  2. I agree, Mark. Your example is just one of many but I may see it differently. Whether someone is excommunicated or not seems to me to be one of the most relevant pieces of the Gospel message. Who is in and who is out... Jesus had plenty to say about who should be dined with, forgiven and who should enter the Kingdom of God.

    Through my eyes, it seems that where the Lutheran state church has it wrong is dictating the appropriate terms of baptism (control) and is right in allowing love to flourish between gay and lesbian partners.

  3. It is impossible to have this convo without bookending it with "God created" and "God spoke". Like river banks. these 2 shape the conversation to keep it both spacious and liberating yet at the same time biblical and God honoring. The scriptures are not optional extras. They reflect God's original intent. They celebrate the story of redemption. They offer chiropractic adjustment to God's true shape in his creation. Only there do we find truth and through truth, freedom.

  4. I agree somewhat... I just have found that depending on one's cultural context, time period and language, what exists between the bookends can be interpreted as radically different for some and the contradictions can be limitless. I agree that it is a story of redemption and adjustment, but for whom? And if one situation is not spoken to directly in the pages of Scripture than we are left choosing which book or passage to apply. Many German Christians used Scripture to justify the Holocaust and American Christians used it to justify slavery - there's not much truth or freedom in those events. So I am continually left wondering how I and others around me are making Scripture speak our will and are confusing the Word of God with our own prejudices.

    Good thoughts - you've both got me thinking. Keep up the great writing, Chris.