An anarchistic reading of the Bible (2)—Creation and what follows

Whilst there may certainly be nothing sacred or “God-ordained” about the modern nation-state, lots of people do claim the connection of their state with the God of their Christian faith. Lots of those claiming to be Christian do not notice they themselves made themselves an own faith which in many cases has gone far away from the leader Christ Jesus his teachings. Even worse many of the conservative Christians and extreme right people have twisted so much the biblical teachings they do not see straight any more.

Lots of people in the so called democratic countries would like to build up their country to what they call to be a free nation, though they want to put a lot of limitations to whom may enter and to what others may believe.
A very good example of such deformation of the mind is the United States of America where there are some citizens who are totally convinced that it is their own home country, not recognising they themselves came from immigrants, thinking their laws should be build on their restricted view of the Bible, ignoring in a certain way the idea of freedom of the Pilgrims who founded their country.

Americans, convinced that the only state they have does not belong to the original locals, redskins or Indians, neither that it belongs to the Divine Creator, are convinced only they can work, according to their measures, to make ‘their state’ the most just and life-enhancing state it can be.
They are also convinced they should also work against their state as strongly as possible when it is unjust and undermines life. Though they often forget which measures or rules they would consider to be the just, righteous and most right to choose for.

Perhaps they can use an anarchist critique of the state and an anarchist affirmation of the human capacity for self-organizing to help to resist the undermining and, even more, to help them as they seek to construct a well-functioning society.

But most of all I would advice those who call themselves Christian to take up again the Bible and to go through it thoroughly.
All people interested in building up a community which can leave together in peace,is better to take up the manual given by the Supreme Writer and Divine Creator of all.

We can approach the Bible as a storybook and see it as providing a loosely coherent message, amidst a great deal of diversity, but than we shall miss out a lot of wisdom provide in it and would not be able so much to see our own stupidities and the stupidities of our governments who do not want to learn from the past, having the past repeating over and over again.

When we look at the Bereshith, the book of the Beginnings brings us the evolution of all things. Lots of conservative Christians do want to take its writing as a literal presentation from day to day, but it was never intended to be so. Moses neither the Client to write, wanted to present humanity with a factual historical scientist into depth account of what happened throughout the years of this universe.
The very beginning of the Bible provides much important information about the Bible as a whole, about the cosmology of the whole, about the character of the God seen to be central to the entire story, and about the relationships between humankind and this God.

Those people taking up the Bible, the infallible Word of God, should remember that the tale told in that Book of books, is to bring us knowledge about our own beings, our own self, how and why we are and how humanity develops.

In this Best-seller of all times, the One giving His Voice, the One Who asked to have His Words written down, This Creator God speaks of His Creation, which includes not only the human beings (male and female) being created in His own image, but also all the things He gave under dominion of those human beings (plants and animals). Though man could make use of it and could give it names, it has made a mess of it, and has done dishonour to the Creator of it. Too many have forgotten that humanity is commissioned to care for the rest of creation as God’s stewards. This is one of the good reasons lots of people should again or for the first time start reading the Bible to find out what their position on this planet is and what they have as task to do to come to a nice good peaceable world.

The Bible tells us what went wrong in the past and how the relationship between God and man became troubled. We do have to find ways to restore that relationship between God and humanity which is not one of domination, command-and-obedience. Yes it is rather a relationship of like with like. God has given several man of God to lead us and to show us the right way to develop. The prophet and master rabbi Jeshua (Jesus Christ) is the most important one to follow. after so much time that the people still did not come to understand the Torah, Jesus came to clarify it once again and to show the Way to God. though Jesus is the Way, he did not want to do his own will nor wants us to do only his will, neither to make him God or to worship him. He wants us to worship and to pray to the same God he prayed to, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, Who is also the God of him (Jesus) and his disciples.

We are told to put on the armour of Christ and to become like Jesus, and to put on the armour of God becoming one with God like Jesus is one with God. Though God is the Most High and even Jesus could not do anything without his heavenly Father, we also shall never be able to do anything without God allowing it to happen. But we are given the words of Christ and the words of the other prophets to help us to find the right way, trying to transform ourselves by the teachings of the master teacher and by the words of the very different books brought together in the Canonical Bible.

We as humans created in the image of God are also by that Creator asked to be like God. And, perhaps even more importantly, the picture here is that all humanity shares in this divine image — kingly, perhaps, but in a strongly egalitarian sense. As well, human beings are given power and responsibility.

The biggest problem is we all are responsible for our own choice and for our own actions. There is nobody else to blame for what we ourselves decide to follow.
It is up to us to take up the Book of books, to believe in it and to follow up freely its advice and wisdom.

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To remember:

to avoid the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17) =  restriction >  arbitrary rule from a dominating God intended to prevent human enlightenment? => Such an interpretation contradict much of the surrounding story + much of what follows in the Bible.

restriction = symbolizing innate human limitations.

human beings seek to know + use that knowledge to dominate creation => will devolve into power struggles and develop hierarchies

To avoid such a dynamic =>  to step back from desiring too much “knowledge,” to accept limits, and recognize to live in trust.

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“temptation” to violate restriction = too strong => Adam and Eve break the close connection between themselves and God.

coming from human side — after they eat the forbidden fruit, God still seeks to hang around with them in the Garden

humans hide from God (3:8) = they become ashamed of their nakedness.

consequences of this turn toward disharmony = establishment of “enmity” between Adam and Eve (3:15) and of Adam as “ruler” over Eve (3:16).

Not God’s will

new tensions and struggles = characterize human life.

rest of story = God’s work among humanity to overcome this “enmity” and proclivity toward “rulership.”

“fall”= affirmation of fundamental character of human peaceableness and responsiveness to God = complicated by human freedom.

God gives humanity potential to turn away as a key part of basic loving nature of the relationships +> turning away has consequences.

fatalistic interpretation has underwritten power politics over the centuries — the “fallenness” of humanity used as an excuse for a politics of centralized, coercive power.

human proclivity to exercise power in dominating ways = target in story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.  = inclination to centralize human power and to create a “oneness” that serves centralized power.

“scattering” Babel-dwellers (3:4, 8, 9), God seeks to create the conditions for a different kind of oneness — human unity respecting diversity, decentralizing power, based on mutual respect.

rest of the Bible’s story describes long, tenuous process of such a oneness being established.

human beings being gifted through God’s Spirit to connect despite their differences in languages, points to the type of oneness God endorses.

God’s healing strategy

genealogy that will connect Noah with the founding of God’s chosen people, we meet the human founders of the Hebrew peoplehood.

God creates something new out of barreness + promises descendants, beyond counting, and the agents of blessing for “all the families of the earth” (12:3).

important intervention of God = vocation God gives Abram, Sarai, and their descendants = God’s response to what happened in Eden, the story of the Flood, and the Tower of Babel => God will bring healing, but it will be patient, non-coercive, based on love and not on domination.

Founding ancestor of God’s chosen people = far from being a king or powerful ruler.

God’s work to bring healing to creation = not linked with territoriality => no geographical kingdom and no human king.

The method for doing God’s work in the world is “blessing” and this work is intended to encompass “all the families of the earth.”

We will have to follow the rest of the story to understand better the political implications of this starting point. But we should notice right away the combination of a lack of state-centeredness and the optimism about the possibilities of this “blessing” spreading widely without domination.

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Additional readings:

  1. What is life?
  2. Leaving the Old World to find better pastures
  3. Men of faith
  4. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #1 Christian Reform
  5. Right to be in the surroundings
  6. Creator and Blogger God 2 Image and likeness
  7. Creator and Blogger God 5 Things to tell
  8. God wants to be gracious to you
  9. The giving and protecting God
  10. Testify of the things heard
  11. I Only hope we find GOD again before it is too late !
  12. A secret to be revealed
  13. Humility and the Fear of the Lord
  14. No fear in love
  15. If you want to go far in life
  16. Being of good courage running the race
  17. Wisdom lies deep
  18. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies
  19. God should be your hope
  20. Your New Job Description — Bless!
  21. Count your blessings
  22. There can only be hope when there is a will to be and say “I am”

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  • American Pride: What Does the Bible Say? (endtimesprophecyreport.com)
    Throughout its short 230+ years existence, the country known as the United States of America has specialized in turning vice into virtue.  Exhibit A?

    Americans teaching that pride is a much-desired quality.

    “American Pride”: it’s on the airwaves; it’s taught in the schools; it’s preached from the pulpits.

  • Is This What US Interviewing Officers In The Embassy Go Through? (thechroniclesofrenard.blogspot.com)
    The experience of getting a United States visa in order to visit the United States of America can be quite challenging for a lot of people in The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

    Here is a humorous video about those interesting experiences.

  • Muslim Americans Insist Students Were Killed Because of Faith (voanews.com)
    The Obama Administration released a statement late Friday about the killing of three Muslim students this week in North Carolina. In the statement US president Barack Obama said “No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.” American Muslim leaders agree and are urging authorities to label the shooting deaths a hate crime. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
  • Akin Osuntokun: The winner takes all election (dailypost.ng)
    Politics is inherently conflict-ridden with a dual and contradictory potential to either serve as a conflict resolution mechanism or generate a momentum for the escalation of conflict to crisis and ultimately to catastrophe.

    The election of Barack Obama, the first African-American, to the office of the President of the United States of America (USA) is unique and indicative in several respects. It was a veritable indication of how far America has gone in functional socio-political integration and positive adaptation of social diversity. Yet it equally brought in its wake the manifestation of the negative potential of politics to serve as a predictor and harbinger of conflict and crisis.

  • United States Corporation & The united, “States of America” . . use this to help people understand! It is very important information! ~J (gunnygbb2.wordpress.com)
    This film explains the difference between the, “united States of America” which is a Republic, created by the people, and for the protections and freedoms of the people; and, a corporation called “The United States Of America”, which is a Corporation of the “District of Columbia”; Titled, “The United States Of America” this corporation was founded in 1871″.

Thinking Pacifism

Ted Grimsrud—February 2, 2015

This is the second in a series of posts.

In this survey of some biblical themes looked at from an anarchistic angle, I will not be real precise in my use of “anarchistic.” I’ll be talking about a sensibility more than a full-fledged political philosophy. The key “anarchistic” motifs I will focus on will be a strong suspicion toward centralized social power, especially kingdoms and empires, and an optimism about human possibilities for self-organizing and decentralized social power.

And I will be reading the Bible in fairly naïve and straightforward ways. I approach the Bible as a storybook and see it as providing a loosely coherent message, amidst a great deal of diversity. I will focus more on the loose coherence than the diversity—largely due to a desire to find usable guidance in the Bible. At the same time, in reading the Bible more as…

View original post 1,411 more words

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I can’t believe that … (4) God’s word would be so violent

The Bible has sometimes been known as the “Good Book”. But really the Bible should come with a health warning. Because for all the stories of love and compassion, there are also stories featuring truly horrific behaviour. Particularly in the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible) you will find stories about murder, violence, mutilation, adultery, incest and gang rape. The worst of humanity is on display. So it is reasonable to ask in what sense is this a “good” book?

The truth is that this idea of the Bible as the “Good Book” misleads people into thinking it is just going to be a collection of spiritual sayings or moral tales. But this isn’t the case at all. “Bible” means library or collection of books, and that’s what the Bible is, it is a collection of books, each with its own style and own topic. The Bible contains books of history, of poetry, of songs, of prophecies, of visions, of stories and even some letters. And given all these different types of books, we should not be surprised to find certain things. So if someone is writing history, they will write about the stuff that actually happened not just the pleasant stuff. And if someone is describing the reaction of their people to times of trial and hardship they are not going to sugar coat it, even if their reaction doesn’t seem very Christian. Since the Bible isn’t just words straight from the mouth of God, but is words written down by men that are drawn together to form God’s book, then we shouldn’t expect the Bible to read like a heavenly voice. We should expect the Bible to sound, in places at least, very human. And humans can be pretty rubbish, at times.

A page from the Wenzel Bible From the caption:...

A page from the Wenzel Bible From the caption: Printed by the Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig. From the Manuscript (c. 1400) in the Imperial Library at Vienna. —- The passage is described there as being from the Book of Moses, ch. IV., v.4–15 (=Exodus 4:4-15). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible certainly isn’t a book of moral fables, where each story has a clear moral lesson. Many of the stories have no moral commentary at all. Those stories that are particularly troubling, with violent and evil deeds, do not come with a command “you should behave like this”. If they did then we should be really worried. But the Bible isn’t like that. When the Bible does contain moral direction it makes plain that acts like murder and rape are absolutely wrong. So we shouldn’t try and read moral lessons from bits of the Bible that aren’t intended for moral teaching.

But these violent and unpleasant passages have a point. Take for example Judges 19-21. It is story that includes betrayal, abuse, gang rape, mutilation of corpses and pointless warfare. This is one of the most unpleasant stories that you could read. But its not there to be pleasant. It is there to provide an answer to a historical, that is, how did the tribe of Benjamin become so small. And that might not seem like a terribly important historical question – and in the grand scheme of God’s message to mankind, it isn’t – but it is one of those details from which the sweep of biblical history is composed. That’s probably the best way to regard these stories. They are there as background detail, they are not big picture stuff.

Yet this isn’t the whole answer. Because some of this violence comes direct from God. God judging people. God condemning people. God requiring death for evil men. And that can be difficult to swallow. That seems harsh, that seems cruel, that seems unforgiving – very different from the character of God as often presented. So what’s going on? Why does God kill people?

Now I don’t support the death penalty when implemented by human governments. Why? Because human justice can make mistakes. Human judges might condemn an innocent person, but they can’t take back the death penalty. In addition, the death penalty admits no second chances – no chance of repentance and a clean slate. Yet these problems are problems for God. If God is all knowing then he cannot make mistakes, he cannot condemn an innocent person, if God says someone is guilty then that person is guilty. And God also knows the heart of men, he knows if they are likely to repent or whether they are beyond reaching. So, it seems to me, the only appropriate person to administer the death penalty is God.

God is justified in putting people to death if he knows they deserve it. And it doesn’t matter whether God puts people to death individually or in a group, because he is able to ensure that only those who deserve to die will die. Take the example of God’s destruction of Sodom (you’ll find the story in Genesis 18). Abraham asks God if he would destroy Sodom if there were fifty righteous people in Sodom? And God says no, he would spare all those wicked people so that he wouldn’t kill any righteous people. What about forty-five? Or forty? Or thirty? Or twenty? Or ten? Abraham keeps asking and in every case God says that he would not destroy the city if there were righteous people in it. In the event God sends angels to rescue the only four righteous people in Sodom (and let’s face it, some of them weren’t particularly righteous). So when God destroys Sodom, we can be sure that the only people who died were those who deserved to die. And if that is the way God works then these violent passages of the Bible turn out to be demonstrations of God’s justice.

Now that doesn’t answer every problem. Some passages of the Bible are still confusing. But these ideas give the broad principles for providing an answer.

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Preceding articles in this series:

I Can’t Believe That (1) … God would send anyone to hell

I Can’t Believe That … (2) God would allow children to suffer

I can’t believe that … (3) miracles can happen

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Additional reading:

  1. Never making mistakes because never doing anything
  2. We are ourselves responsible

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  • The Battle Among Us (signsofthetimes.org.au)
    Those in power are not immune to such degeneration. Politicians lie and cheat, while rich businessmen move their money into overseas tax havens to avoid paying their dues to the country that protects them.
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    Society floats in a moral vacuum. We might have an amoral, “feral” culture that ignores decency and morality. But just as evil are the cultured rich and powerful who also ignore laws.

    Society today is at war. The battle-front is not in Israel, Palestine or Ukraine. It is here in our midst: it is our own inability to distinguish between right and wrong.

    Under the cloak of freedom and tolerance, we have abandoned morality grounded in Judeo-Christian ethics, replacing it with a concept of moral relativism. 

  • Does God Let His Kids Lie About Him? A Thought (or Two) on the Enns/Bell Interview (derekzrishmawy.com)

    The Israelites lived at a rough time, the Iron Age, when nations fought tooth and nail over land and resources and the gods fought right along side of them, leading the charge

    The nations that won had the mightier gods, and victory (slaughter, pillaging) gave gods honor. Losing meant your god was either a wimp or he was mad at your people for some reason and wanted to teach them a lesson in obedience. 

    The Israelites were part of this ancient Iron Age world of warring, land acquisition, and destroying the enemy. They fit right in, and to expect their God-talk to be on a totally different page is to start off on the wrong foot.
    +
    For God to deliver commands to us about not falsely representing him and taking his name in vain, through narratives that falsely represent him and take his name in vain? What kind of confusing father is that? A little exaggeration here and there is one thing, but to fundamentally miss a key component like that is kind of a big deal. I mean, especially when God seems particularly picky about the “no false images” thing (Ex. 32-33).

  • What has convinced many believers to not believe? … the bible did. (skeptical-science.com)
    EA Hanks, a writer based in Los Angeles, has written a very personal article in the Guardian that takes us on her journey from Fundamentalist born again Christian to atheist. In it we find two rather common answers to some truly fascinating questions. Why do people convert and become “born again”?
  • Unfortunately this happens to me all the time (thei535project.wordpress.com)
    Using your standard of morality that states that things that do no emotional or physical harm are good, is raping someone who is in a coma morally wrong?If it does no harm yet it’s still morally wrong then it’s morally wrong by a standard other than your own. This means that your standard is illogical.If you maintain that your standard is logical, then you cannot assert that raping a person in a coma is wrong.
  • The Abrahamic dilemma (jeremystyron.com)
    Doesn’t a believer’s response to what I will call the Abrahamic dilemma really cut to the core of a person’s faith? If, for instance, a believer says he would, in fact, sacrifice his child, or otherwise commit some violent act against another human being, for God, this indicts him as a hideous person, at least based on our set of moral principles. If a Christian says he would not raise the knife and sacrifice his child for God, then the person is not a true believer.
  • PZ Myers Has This Problem With My Post About the Terrorist Who Lost His Head (patheos.com)

    Indiscriminate cruelty and slaughter has long been a way of life for these types. I guess I’m supposed to be sad when it becomes a way of death for them too, but for once I’ll nod along in agreement with Jesus, who is said to have stated the inevitability of violence begetting violence pretty succinctly: “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.”

    Mohammed Fares was another Islamist boil on the ass of humanity. It’s an unpleasant procedure, but boils need to be lanced. Or beheaded — same thing.

  • If ISIS Is Not Islamic, then the Inquisition Was Not Catholic (newrepublic.com)
    As ISIS slaughters its way though Syria and Iraq, it became inevitable that we’d hear from apologists who claim that ISIS is not in fact “true Islam,” and that its depredations are due to something other than religious motivation.
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    Reply:Not true or True Catholicism and True Islam
  • Is there such a thing as “Biblical” marriage? (lotharlorraine.wordpress.com)
    Rachel Ford recently published an article on the website of the “Friendly” Atheist arguing that the Bible is a morally consistent evil book presenting marriage coherently as a man possessing several wifes as objects to be used and maltreated.
  • What is a “true” religion? (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
    As ISIS slaughters its way though Syria and Iraq, it became inevitable that we’d hear from the apologists who claim that ISIS is not in fact “true Islam,” and that its depredations are due to something other than religious motivation. Those motivations, say the apologists, are political (usually Western colonialism that engendered resentment),…