Monday, February 21, 2011

The Nature of the Bible

I am going off-theme today, using one of my Facebook posts written in response to one of my former students who asked how we can reconcile the seeming disparate emphases in the Bible.

The tension you sense, it seems to me, grows out of the expectation that the Bible will present one, coherent, and unified message that consistently runs from Genesis through Revelation. If you shift your assumption from one message to one God revealing God’s self to a wide variety of people in different times, places, situations, and circumstances, you see the story unfolding through various lenses and being presented via various templates. If God’s revelation unfolds with clarity in each generation, the message must shift and be adapted to the circumstances, often in response to human caprice, whimsy, or vacillation. Those who insist on unison voices miss the symphonic splendor of the harmony and the occasional dissonance of a full orchestra. They insist on a crescendo that builds to one grand fortissimo, when in reality the score moves back and forth between pianos, pianissimos, fortes, and fortissimos. Some want the symphony always to be in a major key, to repeat constantly the same theme, to resolve each dissonant chord consistently. The Master Composer, however, has a broader understanding of the dynamics of the composition. We spiritual musicians must seek that broad understanding as we work our way through the Master’s score.

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