Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ecclesiastes the Anti-Fundamentalists Book

I am going to connect the following with the book of Ecclesiastes because I think that book, more then many Old Testament books point us in the direction of discovery. What brings this about are a couple of things going on in my mind recently, another of those convergences of ideas that I am fond of mentioning.

Recently on the atomorrow.com discussion forum there has been some conversation with the atheists there who, it seems to me are often just as fundamentalist as any right wing Christian fundamentalist you can think of. (For the purposes of this series of articles a fundamentalist is defined as those who assume that the Bible is infallible and inerrant and who view the events recorded therein to be literal history. For example Genesis, the book of Job and Jonah are writings, which represent historical events.) Through the conversation some of us have noted that the Genesis story is a myth. Myth is not a bad word it indicates it is a story used to teach people something about their world or the reality around them. Myth does not simply mean something that is untrue. Because it is perfectly legitimate to use something that did not actually occur to present ideas about reality. Jesus used parables and the Old Testament used stories. The Fundamentalist assumes that the stories in Genesis and Job and Jonah must be true actual events. But to a good portion of Christianity these books are not viewed as history but rather works used to teach about man and about God. Some of these books like Ecclesiastes seem designed to make the reader ask questions of the world around them and of their own religion, Job and Jonah are very much in this category of Wisdom literature.

So the fundamentalist atheist asks if the story of creation and the Garden of Eden and the perfection of man is not the true history then why man’s need of a savior. He then challenged me to “Give a scenario which ties into the NT salvation theory seamlessly like Genesis does.” I normally don’t spend a lot of time with the atheists in these discussion groups but this is an excellent question and it ties into the other things that I have been thinking about. Namely the last couple posts on ways to make the church service more effective and the overall theme of what is the purpose of having a relationship with God. We love to talk about having a relationship with God but I cannot be satisfied with thinking that this relationship is only for my benefit and God’s benefit. In other words I don’t think that a relationship with God is about me getting a reward and going to heaven. The relationship is much more then my salvation.

The Atheist’s question is based upon his view of what Christianity has taught him, as with the other atheists on that discussion forum he is a former Seventh-day Adventist. He knows what Adventists believe, at least from the fundamentalist side which throughout our history has been the main source of theology in the Adventist church. But he cannot envision a different way of looking at religion. Though the different way of looking at religion has always been around, we have a traditional view now and we assume that that is the only possible way. However when looking at his challenge above we would have to quickly note that to the people who were given the stories of Genesis it was not about getting a savior to come and return them to the Garden of Eden type existence. As I have noted several times the book of Ecclesiastes does not work from the perspective of a resurrection and renewed life lived with God. It spurs us to the thought that there must be more but it does not explain what that more is. He may have been the wisest man in the world yet he did not know what we know. Read More

[In order to save space, so you can see my other recent posts, I am going to post the larger posts or multipart series on my website so that they can be read in natural order 1,2,3 rather then blog post order 3,2,1 and really it is still only a click away]

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