Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Political and social consequences of believing in God

Whoa - Bob - too big a title - and you are supposed to be reading.

Yes, I am reading and listening (with half an ear) to George Caird, and I just found his short commentary on St Luke (Penguin Books 1963) which I think I will reread.

In the introduction, my first introduction in the 60s to the synoptic problem (without the help of Mark Goodacre), he writes of the intent of Luke's gospel with the fifth of his opening rhetorical questions:
Are Christians suspected of antisocial behaviour? He [Luke] will portray the author of their faith as a figure of nobility, grace, and charm, able to reproduce these same qualities in the lives of his followers and to raise to decency and dignity even the outcasts from the society of men.
Yes - Caird and his editor Nineham, like their contemporary Lewis, use language that is 'man' oriented - but humanity is intended. And humanity includes 'all sorts and conditions of' the same. And such conditions include but are not limited to race, gender, social status, sexual orientation, colour, creed, and confession. So how does 'the author of their faith', by whom Caird means Jesus of Nazareth, "raise to decency and dignity even the outcasts"?

He does this by growing people made in his image into the fullness of their capacity for love.

I could prove this by a number of words - but no. The word now is out to those who have a sense of the inner life of truth. Russia is out from the point of view of the prejudice of their current leadership. Well, we could have figured that out couldn't we. It would not have taken much to out the Russians.

So that deals with 'consequence' in my title. The consequence of hearing that the Russians are out is to say to them - no. Let your no be no - as Jesus said. You, O motherland, may not be in favour of violence that supports your prejudice and that stems from your own fear.

What about political and social? - well, it is more than a matter of big-money and gold-medal-glory. Do we (who are not Russia) want to win on crooked ground? Better to say no to ourselves than to say yes to what is not straight. The crooked will be made straight (the root is from equity - ישר) - but not, O motherland, in the fashion you imagine in your own sin - your ways are not my ways, says that same ancient text of the book of consolation (see Isaiah 40ff).

Who among the nations will now judge with equity where there is deceit and violence? (see e.g. here and here) The political response will be what - just words? From the north? from the south? from the east? from the west? Who knows?  (I doubt that this little essay will make much difference. But for the record, since 1994 or thereabouts I changed my understanding after much struggle of what is meant by certain clobber texts in the ancient writings. I am being dug, watered, fertilized, and grown by a gardener that knows me. I won't be going to Russia for the games - unless they ask for a lecture on my book. - O Bob watch out! - No fear - Bible is not an Olympic sport.)

What about believing in God? Shouldn't I have written - that particular Abba of Jesus, the Galilean who was executed?  Or should I have written the consequences of "a passion for truth", or "a passion for justice". Those are the measures of God, in human terms: truth and justice. For he will judge the nations with equity (ישר) (Psalm 67). And here is a moment of judgment with equity which those who have a passion for truth can exercise. I doubt that this truth is confined to Christendom. Doesn't even that good book speak of "all who fear God", "all who do what is right"?

Isn't it strange that we among the nations must judge according to the equity of the judgment of God? Will we?

See this related article by Stephen Fry (if you can get to it). Traffic volume is very high on his server.
יִשְׂמְחוּ וִירַנְּנוּ לְאֻמִּים
כִּי תִשְׁפֹּט עַמִּים מִישֹׁר
וּלְאֻמִּים בָּאָרֶץ תַּנְחֵם
סֶלָה
67.5
Make tribes glad and shout for joy
for you judge peoples with equity
and tribes on the earth - you guide them
Selah