Aug 28 2014

John Meunier: Violence in the Bible – Two approaches

Adam Hamilton recently published three blog posts about violence in the Old Testament. Part One Part Two Part Three Allan Bevere recruited Ashland seminary professor Dan Hawk to provide a response. Part One  Part Two Part Three (to be added when posted) The … Continue reading

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Aug 28 2014

Pastor Darian's Musings: Dad Theology: The Church At Waffle House

This week’s blog post was written by my dad, Bill Duckworth. He is an expert on all things Waffle House. He also knows a bit about churches. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“I don’t want to go to church today. Let’s go to Waffle House.”

My wife, Brenda, smiled widely and replied, “Yeah!”

It was an unusual decision for us to forsake Christian fellowship on the designated day for corporate worship. After all, attending church is as routine for us as turning on our air conditioner this time of year. The concept of honoring God by consuming diner food while listening to Hank Williams belt out “I Saw the Light” via a digital jukebox just didn’t seem appropriate for Sunday morning. However, it was revealing.

The Waffle House parking lot was full. The lots of the six churches we passed driving there were not. Waffle House had a line of people waiting for seats. As for those churches, use your imagination. Waffle House was full of hungry energetic people: some drinking coffee in the waiting area, children dancing to Hank’s salvation song, and servers shouting out “Hello! Welcome to Waffle House.” As for the excitement at those six houses of worship, even my imagination can’t go there.

But the real eye openers were the servers and food. The staff transferred customer orders verbally to the master grill operator. (Yes – Waffle House has a hierarchy)

Bacon Crisp (burn it hard)
Double Cheeseburger – Hold the Garden (no lettuce or tomato)
Triple Up (egg yolks staring one in the face like a 3-eyed monster)
My personal favorite– Hashbrowns Steamed (potatoes cooked in ice over a hot grill).

This place was all about loud music, hungry people, hot food, and anticipation over the sun rising for a new day. As for the activities going on at those six churches… Hmmmm.

I have a real concern for the local churches. As he walked the earth, I see Jesus was similar to Waffle House. He was available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Like a magnet he attracted all kinds of unsavory characters. His food preparation caused people to hunger and follow him throughout the land. As a master grill operator of God’s Word, He provided a place where the common met the holy. Lives were served forgiveness, mercy and redemption. Tainted dishes laced with condemnation, guilt, or shame were not allowed in his house. He made it clear – “I am the Bread of Life” and our local bodies are called to bring his word of life to the hungry and broken hearted. So where do we start? Scratch that. Where do I start?

I must reexamine my place of hierarchy as a processor of God’s Word and ask, “Am I preparing the Word properly? Do I present it with beauty? Will it be an encouraging blessing or a damaging wound to the heart of a searching soul?” As a Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church for the past 10 years, I’m sure my messages presented a mixture of it all rather than providing a filtered purity of Christianity. But thankfully on this day I skipped church and found Jesus working outside its walls without my help.

As I finished my meal, full of cholesterol and saturated fat, I felt good reflecting upon Brother Hank’s third verse:

I was a fool to wander and a-stray
Straight is the gate and narrow the way
Now I have traded the wrong for the right
Praise the lord I saw the light.

All of a sudden, a server shouted out, “Recall!”

In Waffle House language, which I speak fluently, that means, “I misspoke the customer’s request. let’s start over.”

She then said calmly, “Porterhouse, Well Done.”

May we all be willing to recognize the wrong orders of our lives, shout our recall to God, and do it righteously the next time. Then we will hear our master grill operator’s response, “Well Done my child, Well Done.”

An Apprentice at God’s House,

Bill Duckworth

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Aug 28 2014

This Day With God: Picture of How Life Will Be

The surroundings as described in Revelation 21:22-22:5 are amazing as there is no need for the sun because there is continuous light from the glory of God. The gates are always open because nothing impure can ever enter the city … Continue reading

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Aug 28 2014

Allan R. Bevere: Letting God Off the Hook: Adam Hamilton on Violence in the Old Testament (Part 2)

This is the second post by my friend, Dan Hawk on Adam Hamilton’s recent proposals about how to understand and make sense of the violence in the Old Testament when it comes to the character of God. Dan’s first post as well as links to Pastor Adam’s posts on the subject can be found here. Originally Dan had planned to write a two part series, but he has written a final third part in which he reflects theologically on the violence in the Old Testament. That post will be published tomorrow morning.

Resolving the Dilemma: A Response to “God’s Violence in the Old Testament,” Part 2.
by Dr. L. Daniel Hawk

In the previous post, I took issue with Adam Hamilton’s proposal that we deal with the question of divine violence in the Old Testament by regarding the texts that report it as “a reflection of the values and the theological and moral vision of some of its human authors, not of the God they sought to serve” (“Part 3: Possible Solutions”). I raised two problems with this approach. First, it deals with the problem by creating two gods, the humanly-contrived violent god versus the God revealed in Jesus, and so opts out of grappling with the canon’s challenge to see Jesus and the God of the Old Testament as one and the same. Second, it rests on a historical sensibility that grounds claims about what the Bible says in putative historical contexts and modern analyses of ancient minds, both of which are very slippery enterprises.

I now turn to the task Hamilton undertakes, “to resolve the moral and theological dilemmas that confront us in these Old Testament texts” (“Part 2: Possible Solutions”).

We agree on this: the God who commands and endorses violence in the Old Testament, sometimes on a massive scale, is inconsistent with the God we see in the life and teachings of Jesus. Where we disagree is on what we should do with the inconsistency. Hamilton wants to resolve it. I believe we are called to confront it head on, as a feature of the whole of Scripture and a challenge to participate in a complex, contentious conversation about who God is and how God is at work in the world. By disengaging from this challenge, we give up too easily, and we give up too much.

I understand the temptation to resolve the incompatible portraits of God we encounter in the Bible. We live in a culture and age that wants answers and explanations. We seek reassurance that all the dots can be connected, and we want to know how they are connected. We look for certainty and clear, clean delineations of right and wrong. We cannot abide ambiguity, contradiction, and paradox. We demand that God make sense to us.

The Bible, however, confounds, provokes, and frustrates our demands and the thinking beneath them. Moral and theological ambiguity is part and parcel of its testimony. God asks Abraham his faithful servant to sacrifice his son, then stops him at the last minute. God repeatedly insists that Israelites show no mercy to the Canaanites when they enter the land, but says and does nothing when Israelites spare a Canaanite prostitute’s family and an enclave of Hivites. God accedes to the nation’s demand for a king, chooses one, seemingly sets him up to fail, and then chooses a different one. God destroys in order to renew, at the beginning of the Bible (the Flood) and at its conclusion (Seals, Bowls, Trumpets and an orgy of cosmic violence).

The Bible does not speak in a monologue. It confronts us with a vigorous and combative argument, carried by diverse voices with starkly different perspectives, between books and within them– and allows all to have their say. It exposes our pretensions to absolute moral rectitude by revealing the world we live in as a place where moral decisions are not often clear-cut and where even God must act in ways that counter the ideals God sets before humanity. The pastoral task, I suggest, resists the impulse to defuse the offensive voices but rather invite readers to participate in this confrontational rhetorical and moral discourse, so to determine how to live and respond faithfully to the dilemmas that arise in the sin-saturated world we inhabit. Resolving its inconsistencies transforms the biblical witness into a monologue. It flattens theological reflection. And it so settles issues for us that we need not continue to pray and discern the work of the One who is working relentlessly and resolutely to redeem a world gone bad.

“After we have done our best work and vigorously pursued our most passionate modes of reading,” Walter Brueggemann has aptly written, “the text– and the God featured in the text– remain inscrutable and undomesticated.” The attempt to make coherent sense out of the Old Testament material “is characteristically hazardous because our explanatory modes of discourse run immediately in the direction of idolatry, of producing a God who is discernible, explicable, and therefore to some extent manageable” (Old Testament Theology: An Introduction, Abingdon Press, 2008, page 18).

On the question of divine violence as in so many others, the canon calls faithful readers out black-and-white thinking and into the gray; out of an impulse that seeks to simplify, dichotomize, and resolve in order to determine who is right– and into a communal conversation as fluid and contentious as the clamor of voices that vie with one another in the biblical canon. The plurality of voices, postures, testimonies, and declarations that configure Scripture reflect the diversity of the same that characterize the church. The very nature of Scripture, then, directs the community shaped by it to seek the truth from all sides and prayerfully ponder together what God is doing in any given day and age and so to align its witness and involvements accordingly.
Dr. L. Daniel Hawk is Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Ashland Theological Seminary. He has his Ph.D. from Emory University. Dan is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church (East Ohio Conference) and has researched and written extensively on the Book of Joshua. His books include a commentary on Joshua in the Berit Olam series, Joshua in 3-D: A Commentary on Biblical Conquest and Manifest Destiny, and Every Promise Fulfilled: Contesting Plots in Joshua.

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Aug 28 2014

the unlikely orange: last first day of school for the year

tuesday was the first day of preschool for our youngest and perhaps most rascally child.  it was a long-awaited day, as he has long been saying that he gets to go to school when he turns three.  well, he turned three in july, and was very dis…

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Aug 28 2014

ClergySpirit: Sabbath: A School for the Desires

It occurs to me that Sabbath is a school for our desires, an expose and critique of the false desires that focus on idolatry and greed that have immense power for us. When we do not pause for Sabbath, these false desires take power over us. Walter…

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