Friday, August 28, 2009

Yikes! Part 4

Here is another excerpt from Getting Christianity Right! by Robert Sessions (iUniversity Press, New York, 2007, pp. 43-44.) In this section, Dr. Sessions is trying to make the point that we should not take the Bible literally.

Father Ken Baker of All Saints Anglican Church in Mission, British Columbia, shared an e-mail in which he gave a fitting response to a radio personality who had supported a viewpoint by taking literally a passage from the Old Testament. Father Baker’s message, in part:

“When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them…

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as it suggests in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may buy slaves from the nations that are around us. A friend of mind claims that this applies to Mexicans but not to Americans. Can you clarify?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?...

Eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 10:10)…can you settle this?

Leviticus 20:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?”

To Ponder:

1.) Always check the biblical references people give you and read the context, too,the whole section. Far too often, you find the passages misrepresented. This case is no exception. (That last citation is wrong, though; it should be Leviticus 21:20, not 20:20.)

2.) With whom did God make the covenant containing all these commandments, laws, and ordinances?

3.) Which covenant is operative today? To whom does this covenant pertain?

4.) To ”fulfill” something, as for example the Law and the Prophets, is to give that something its highest, truest, best meaning. Thus, fulfilling the Law doesn’t mean simply obeying it. Christ does that, but when we say He fulfilled the Law, we mean something deeper; namely, that He is that to which the Law was always pointing; He makes possible what the Law could only legislate, but never accomplish. Christ reveals and IS the Love that the Law could only crudely mimick. Christ fulfills the prophets not simply by making some of their predictions come true, but by embodying everything they were ever talking about, by being the summary of all their hopes and vindicating all their faith. This is how Jesus, by fulfilling the Law (Matthew 5:17) also superceded it (Hebrews 8:13). (In fact, that's a tautology; to say He fulfilled something IS already to say He superceded it.)


margaret said...

Yep, as the saner evangelicals of my youth used to say, a text without a context is a pretext.

Meanwhile I have a wee plump black cat that I'm sure is a practicing pagan... and Leviticus doesn't have a word of advice!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Leviticus! What a cool name for a black cat!

I also have a plump, black kitten, temporarily; I'm babysitting him unti Labor Day. He's black all over. Five weeks old. Has an adorable gray tabby brother, too.