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A Moral Critique of the Book of Exodus_4

Today at Healingsprings fellowship

In recent months I explored some fundamental problems with biblical texts and their doctrinal implication, using the book of Exodus as a case study.

This series sparked a lot of questions which has opened my eyes to the degree of assumptions made by Christians about the influence of the faith. I also discovered that non-believers are often more knowledgeable about Christian history and its implication on social norms and our world.

When we draw swift conclusions without doing the required research we leave no room for possibilities. This is particularly depressing in an era in which access to information is easy and affordable once we have the right guidance or mentorship. I emphasise the need for guidance because there are lots of poor quality information out there also.

So back to the subject at hand, writing on the relationship between colonialism and religion for instance, citing Jan H. Boer (the Sudan United Mission), Falola (2001) argues that:

Colonialism is a form of imperialism based on a divine mandate and designed to bring liberation – spiritual, cultural, economic and political – by sharing the blessings of the Christ-inspired civilization of the West with a people suffering under satanic oppression, ignorance and disease, effected by a combination of political, economic and religious forces that cooperate under a regime seeking the benefit of both ruler and ruled.” – Violence in Nigeria: The Crisis of Religious Politics and Secular Ideologies, p. 33.

So, it will seem that some missionaries were trying to fix the colossal damage that slavery made on the geography, life and psyche of Africans. Because If we rewind back a few centuries before slavery in Africa, early missionaries recalled that poverty was an alien concept within African societies. Africans were organised in tribes or kingdoms, and there were sophisticated systems and processes in place to address the concerns of the poor, disabled, elderly, widows and orphans. Judaism could not be said to be more civilised or ethical because disabled people were not allowed into the Temple, even animals for sacrifice were meant to be without spot, wrinkle, or blemish; and lepers were not allowed into the community.

To this end, how do we harness all that is good and ethical about humanity to move us forward?

Join us at 3pm today for the series: From Order to Chaos: a study on Exodus

St John the Evangelist Hall, Church Rd, Sidcup DA14 6BX

Healingsprings fellowship: Human Capital Development

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

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Christian doctrine and Anthromorphism

Thought Leaders Series:2018

By way of context, anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. A behaviour which psychologists describe as innate to humans.

For example, in religion and mythology, anthropomorphism is the perception of a divine being or beings in human form, or the recognition of human qualities in these beings.

In Christianity, we are told that we are replicas of God (Gen. 1:27). Thus we find descriptive use of human features for God in Judaism and Christianity. These include references like: “The finger of the lord’ (Gen. 8:19), ‘The eyes of the lord, (2 Chronicles 16:19), ‘The hand of the lord’ (1 Peter 5:6-7) etc.

Jewish scholars tried to do away with this idea once they realised its shortcoming and implications. So they wrote commentaries to shift this perspective, but once the oral tradition had been translated to written text, it was near impossible to convince followers otherwise.

The idea was already branded into their psyche and no amount of enlightened thought could change it. Even today, scholarship is often dismissed as secondary information, as audiences fail to not understand that Bible is not a primary source either. But rather, a collection of commentaries by enlightened thinkers in their era. In fact there is no primary source.

That aside, thinking of the Divine in anthropomorphic terms also means the attribution of human emotions and actions. This is common in most cultures, perhaps more apparent in Greek mythology.

In Christianity for instance: love, anger, vengeance, hatred, justice, jealousy etc., are often used to describe God’s emotion. In Exodus 15:3, Isaiah 42:13, we see examples of human actions. In these two examples, God’s involvement in the killing and destruction of non-compliant nations or people through active warfare.

Thus in Christianity we have an angry God, who holds grudges. One who requires human sacrifice as Atonement for the sin of Adam and Eve – humanity.

But even if we agree that this was Truth, there are plethora of positions with this doctrine. Theologians like Julian of Norwich (1342-1430) believes that Jesus’ sacrifice was once, and for all of humanity (regardless of belief or unbelief). In other circles, in-spite of Jesus’ sacrifice, there are other complicated doctrinal subsets, like the Rapture and Judgement Day, which some believers are likely to fall short of, leading to everlasting condemnation in hell fire🔥with non-believers.

In fact, there is a whole industry built on this premise, with some Christians even having a preview of who might, or has ended up in hell already.

At any rate, except the definition of love as we know and understand it is wrong. Because If it is right, then the Christian God could not be described as loving.

Human Capital Development: Healingsprings fellowship

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

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How did Christian doctrines come about?

Thought Leaders Series: 2018

Did they fall from heaven? Were they passed on by Jesus?

By way of context let us examine some building blocks. First, systematic theology. This term which sounds like something out of an engineering lab, is a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the doctrines of the Christian faith.

In other words, rather like a jigsaw puzzle, systematic theology tries to bring pieces together from the Christian bible to justify or qualify the superiority of the faith over other faiths or beliefs.

The problem however, is that unlike a jigsaw puzzle the pieces do not fit together. Hence the need for revision of doctrines overtime in light of new truths.

This problem is not unique to Christianity, it is also a problem with all written or coded religious Texts. Hence the reason why we have various sects, groups or denominations in the Abrahamic faiths for example.

In Christianity for instance, it is rather perplexing that The Binding of Isaac (the Genesis 22 story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac) was used as a argument for the formula of the Christian doctrine of Atonement.

Most ancient and modern Jewish scholars and thinkers agree that the story was used as a deterrent from child sacrifice, which was a common practise of Semitic people at the time.

In fact, the original folklore (the oral tradition before the story was coded in text after the Exile) had it that Abraham sacrificed Isaac to enact the Covenant. However, reformers like Ezra decided to remove the notion of a God who requires human sacrifice to stop the practise, by redacting the story after the Exile.

So, how do we justify a God that refused the sacrifice of Isaac, providing a substitute instead, with a God that later demands the sacrifice of his son as a substitute for Adam’s sin?

An all powerful, all knowing, all present, and all loving God would have no need to hold a grudge against his creation.

Perhaps a better idea of Atonement (if ever there is a need for one) could be found, not in the blood sacrifice of Jesus, but in the life and teaching of Jesus, for example, in John 14:9, Acts 10:38.

The implication of a God who seeks the blood of his incarnate son to forgive humanity, does not show the loving father that Jesus teaches about, for example, in Matthew 7:9-11.

If anything, it demonstrates a wrathful and vengeful God who holds malice against his creation. A God who requires ‘justice’ or “an eye for an eye” (Ex. 21:24) if you please, the very premise that Jesus challenges in Matthew 5:38-42.

In fact, when we take a step back in the sequence of the doctrinal chain, we arrive at the origin: The Fall (Gen. 3). The Fall is a doctrine closely related to the doctrine of Original, or Ancestral sin by one of the Church Fathers, Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyon). This doctrine itself is fraught with many gaps which I can not delve into for the sake of brevity.

Perhaps it goes to show that the Bible is not infallible, but rather, a task in theology. A quest to understand the dynamics of this world.

In fairness, these thinkers did their best with the knowledge at their disposal. But sadly we have pitched our tents where they stopped, instead of examining their writings, and addressing the ethical gaps in light of human development.

Human Capital Development: Healingsprings fellowship

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

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