Musings on the Daily Office, for Saturday May 27, 2006

May 27, 2006

Num 11:16-17, 24-29

We see here a great example of the prophetic voice.  Eldad and Medad go around shouting prophesy, and the community gets all upset cause that ain't normal.  It ain't in their "tradition."

Hmmm.  Sound familiar?  Moses' response?  He says he wishes everyone would be so open to the voice of God.

This just really struck me as such an interesting parallel to the arguments being used today to work against inclusion in the Communion today.  "We need to wait for consensus."  "The 'prophetic voice' is straining the communion."

So it was with Eldad and Medad.  And the lesson?  Listen.  Listen for God.  God is always on the side of the marginalized.  The underprivileged.  Those with the smallest voice.  Jesus taught us that.  Interesting how much we still have to learn.  Is community and valuing the Communion important?  Absolutely.  But the Communion also needs to be sensitive to the lessons of our tradition which value the prophetic tradition and the needs of the marginalized.

Eph 2:11-22

I always get so perplexed when folks want to believe that the Bible doesn't have any contradictions.  Here's a great one:  Eph 2:15:

"He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body* through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it."

I find several contradictions here.

  1. Matt 5:17 – "I have come not to abolish the law and the prophets…"  This passage is used quite often by literalists when justifying the existence of exclusionary language in Old Testament law.  It seems to me that we can't have it both ways – either the Ephesians passage (and others like it) have it right or the Gospel has it right.  (Actually, for me, neither is completely right.  Since I don't take either as the "literal truth" I think there is a balance in between- my point is that if you are going to take it literally there ARE contradictions.)
  2. Matt 15:22-26 – This is the story where Jesus tells the non-Jewish Canaanite woman that he did not come for any but the Jews.  He even compares her to a dog.  Now in the Ephesians verse (and everything post Acts 10), we see that Jesus was clearly wrong.  I guess either Jesus didn't know what he was talking about or Paul knew more than Jesus.  Again – I don't personally have a problem because I find the Matthew story to be one where Jesus learned about inclusion himself (he ended up healing the woman anyway), but a literalist interpretation seems to me to be contradictory.

I'm sure there are answers to these questions, hopefully someone will help me understand the literalist point of view.  But as I was reading this morning I was really perplexed with the reconciliation of these issues if one is truly bound to take the Bible at face value rather than free to give it some breathing room.

Matt 7:28 – 8:4

Jesus taught as one having authority, not as one of the scribes.  Scribes used tradition built on top of tradition to create their theology.  The danger with that position is that the errancy of any one generation gets perpetuated into the next.  Jesus taught a whole new way of thinking.

See my previous post on the idea of a Doctrinal Jubilee.

Now I don't believe that we actually need a doctrinal jubilee.  I trust in the spirit, the catholic church, the apostolic tradition, the communion of the saints, and all the rest far too much for that.

But I do believe in the prophetic tradition.  I do believe that we need to always root ourselves back in the authority of Christ.  Building a foundation of a 2000 year old structure built up by humankind is a shaky thing to me.  Building a foundation on Christ is not.  Looking for the intent, the meaning, the ideas, that Christ intends us to find for the issues that face us today based on the issues he faced in his time seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable exercise.  For that we need the Spirit to guide us.  Do we need tradition?  Absolutely.  But it cannot be, in and of itself, the reason to keep doing something.  It can be one way to connect us to God.  It cannot be the only way.  Scripture is authoritative.  But Scripture is not literal.  Scripture is a faith document.  Faith changes over time as God reveals more of Godself to us.  We only need look at history to understand that.  The understanding of God as it existed in Pauls time was much different than at the council of Nicea, at the Reformation, at the formation of the ECUSA, Vatican II, Women's Ordination, and now.  That's not a disputable question.  It is a matter of history.

So that's my take on the daily office.  Don't know why it got me going so much today.  Maybe its just Saturday morning and I'm bored.  I've still got a whole separate post to write which has been on my mind…  AND I've got to get their kids to their playdates in 30 minutes and I haven't showered yet.  Great start to a Saturday!

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