"Having a blog is like wandering around your house naked with the windows open; it's all very liberating until someone looks in the window. However, while being caught unawares is one thing, it is quite another to stroll up to the window and press your naked, flabby body against the coolness of the glass in a hideous form of vertical prostration for all the world to see..." These posts are the smudges that are left behind on the window.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Metaphorical Violence

Like most people I have a problem with the violence of the Old Testament. How does a God who is loving condone, if not outright sanction, violence.

I was just reading from Brian McLaren's latest book, We make the Road by Walking, which is a daily devotional book. The section I was just reading has McLaren trying to justify a more metaphorical reading of the Bible, specifically the Old Testament. I'm OK with reading the creation story metaphorically, but I haven't expanded this view to other stories, although I have heard lots of people try. Most of the people who try, eventually get to the point where the death and resurrection of Christ is also metaphorical, and at this point, I still have a problem with that.

But McLaren got me thinking. He makes the argument that all these stories are derived from an oral tradition with stories being handed down from generation to generation, each modifying it.  He was trying to say that as the stories progressed, we learn a bit more about our God; that they are not literal stories, but stories that are there to teach us about God. After all, the story of creation wasn't written anywhere near when it was supposed to have happened. Job is the oldest book of the Bible, not Genesis. Genesis was written somewhere around 500BC.

I must admit that if you view these stories as metaphorical (Old Testament) it makes much more sense. The creation story shows us how arrogance can separate us from God, how we are not living the way God designed things to be, and we are paying the price for that arrogance. The Flood story shows us that God abhors evil and eventually it will all be wiped out, that God loves those who do righteousness. Even those stories where God commands the Israelites to go in and destroy people, even to the extent of smashing babies heads, shows how we should make every effort to rid ourselves, and the world, of evil and injustice, in all its forms.

My only problem is, where do you draw the line between literal and metaphorical?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment. Your comment will not show immediately as I am moderating them for now.