Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ecclesiastes the Anti-Fundamentalist Book Part 2

In Part one I examined the idea that in order to have a relationship with God one must respect and appreciate that God. In a similar way it is necessary in our human relationships to have respect and appreciation for other people in order to have good relationships. In Part two we will examine the growth in knowledge of relationships between man and man and God, and examine why man with his selfish and manipulative tendencies needs a relationship with God. Ultimately we will look at what is there in the life death and resurrection of Jesus that contributes to the relationship between individuals here and now or in the future. The Judeo-Christian religion has a much more important component to society then individual heavenly reward, a savior is not merely someone who takes us from this life on earth to heaven but someone who shows us how to live here as well. In fact the Old Testament is predominately about mans relationship to man and man's relationship to God. We have already examined what a relationship with God deals with. Now we look at why a relationship with God translates into a better relationship with others.

No one who reads the Old Testament is unaware of it demands for justice and mercy, in fact the Golden rule which is found essentially in so many religions is found fairly early in the Old Testament books (Leviticus 19:18). However as most people also know there is a very brutal side to the instructions of the early books of the Bible (see Vengeance in the Old Testament). So we just can't point to the Old Testament and say look how loving and justice oriented the early history of the Old Testament is. It has no concept of religious tolerance and it represents a world that is just as war friendly as any other group in history. The Genesis story asserts that the Israelites were coming to their own promised land that their forefathers inhabited if ever so briefly, but it still called for the removal of the people who were there. So though we are aware of the problems in the Old Testament we also have to be aware of how progressive revelation works. That is the people did not start out in a position of a humanity loving, relationship oriented society. The exodus introduces us to a primitive people who have spent hundreds of years in slavery. Slavery does not encourage education and to keep slaves from getting too knowledgeable they were compartmentalized in their labor. We know that years of slavery removes much of the knowledge from the group enslaved. Israel out of slavery was learning about their redeemer God and when things did not go as smoothly as they thought, they reverted to the religion of their slavery and even longed for the security of that slavery. The more comprehensive knowledge of a general agricultural society can even be lost on the slave who may only know one part of the agricultural industry. So when freed they were likely well behind the non slave neighbors. Both in practical life education and education in general which of course was something that only the wealthy could afford anyway. In societies where you had to work all day for you food and shelter there was not a lot of time to learn too much about things that did not bring food and shelter. Read the rest of the article by clicking this link and then click Part Two. This way multipart series can be kept together.

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