If the Bible is not infallible as tradition implies, do we then throw the baby and the bath water?
My answer is emphatically no. As I believe faith can be harnessed as a force for good. But in order to achieve this good, leaders will need to be theologically educated (ideally in a tertiary institution that is independent of any church tradition); and opened to new ideas through a commitment to lifelong learning and continuous professional development.
If leaders are entrusted with the lives and destiny of people, this is a worthwhile investment. It is no surprise that Martin Luther King studied sociology, theology, then proceeded to do his doctoral studies. If he invested in himself intellectually in his era, what do we think the intellectual demands of our era are?
So, last week I argued that women are most times portrayed negatively in the Bible. For example: Eve, Delilah, Jezebel, and Salome come to mind. And that as we celebrate women, we need to understand that some of the big challenges women are facing today like equal pay actually take their root from the Judeo Christian heritage of Europe. As I write the Church of England has been severely damaged over argument about women holding high offices.
Therefore, if we are really serious about gender empowerment or equality, we will need to look beyond the Bible. If anything, much of the gains women enjoy today were achieved by The Enlightenment.
I then proceeded to explain the motives behind the library of writings we refer today as the Torah, emphasising that the primary agenda was nationhood, hence it is broadly centred around: One God, One People and One Covenant.
The redactors were careful to use characters known through Jewish history to convey the sort of values that will strengthen and foster unity and prosperity; and those that were detrimental to their cause.
Hence they weaved into these stories values like collectivism, selflessness, faithfulness, loyalty, sacrifice, patience, humility, vision, kindness, unity, etc. At the same, time inverses or polar opposites like individualism, selfishness, disloyalty, greed, shortsightedness, pride etc.
To this end the characters we find in these stories are not there by coincidence, they are symbols and milestones in the struggle of a people trying to carve out a distinct future amidst the complexities of the world around them.
Also, that we find ourselves in grave difficulties when we try to read these stories through the lenses of the New Testament or Christian dogmas and doctrines. Worse still, treat them as timeless universal principles that govern all aspects of human life.
As a health warning, while there might be elements of universality in some of the text, they are clearly Jewish stories which were written with the vision of bringing the people together towards a common goal – nationhood.
Today I will be wrapping up my lecture on the Witch of Endor. Questions include: what were the redactors trying to convey? How did it serve the community in their nation building project?
In other words, what sort of Operative Narratives and Scripts were the Elders envisioning through this ground breaking project.
Join us at 3pm
St John the Evangelist Hall
Sidcup DA14 6BX
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