What the Bible Actually Teaches (5)
Open Mic Edition
Let’s do something a little different today. One of the main points of Pete Enns’s book is about how the Bible depicts God. in various ways according to the culturally-conditioned understandings of its ancient authors.
We will discuss that more next week, with examples from the book. But for today, I will simply put out a couple of quotes that summarize the basic argument, giving everyone a chance to ponder them and contribute reactions and thoughts.
The Bible does not leave us with one consistent portrait of God, but a collection of ancient and diverse portraits of how the various biblical writers understood God for their times. These biblical portraits of God are not there to test how clever we can be in making them all fit together nicely. They illustrate for us the need to accept the sacred responsibility of asking what God is like for us here and now. (p. 153)
We respect these sacred texts best not by taking them as the final word on what God is like, but by accepting them as recording for us genuine experiences of God for the Israelites and trying to understand why they would describe God as they do. God met the ancient Israelites on their terms, in their time and place, stepping into their world.
We follow the lead of these writers not by simply reproducing how they imagined God for their time, but by reimagining God for ourselves in our time, which for us (as we’ll get to later) includes taking into account the Christian story as well. In doing so, we will necessarily commune with God differently with respect to those who went before.
The ancient ways the Bible describes God drive us to work through what God is like for our own time and place. And, as I’ve been saying, that process is an act of wisdom, of asking, “What is God like? What God do we truly believe in?” (p. 144)