Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wild at Heart: Biblical Evidence? Part 2

On Page 5 we find the following quote (the second use of Scripture):

"Adventure, with all its requisite danger and wildness, is a deeply spiritual longing written into the soul of man... Where, finally, the geography around us corresponds to the geography of our heart. Look at the heroes of the biblical text: Moses does not encounter the living God at the mall. He finds him (or is found by him) somewhere out in the deserts of Sinai, a long way from the comforts of Egypt. The same is true of Jacob, who has his wrestling match with God not on the living room sofa but in the wadi somewhere east of the Jabbok, in Mesopotamia. Where did the prophet Elijah go to recover his strength? To the wild. As did John the Baptist, and his cousin, Jesus, who is led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Whatever else those explorers were after, they were also searching for themselves... Who am I? What am I made of? What am I destined for?"

Observation #1: There are very few things that scripture tells us is written on the hearts of men (Jer. 17:1; Rom. 2:15; 2 Cor. 3:3 to name a few). Adventure is not one of them.

Observation #2: While Moses was certainly in the desert, that's where he lived. His encounter with God was not on an adventure trip, but while he was working. The reason he wasn't in Egypt was not because he was trying to escape comfort and ease, but because he feared for his life after murdering a man.

Observation #3: Jacob also wasn't on a weekend adventure trip searching for his soul. He was on his way back home with dozens of people and his family. His encounter with God wasn't on the living room sofa because he was caravaning.

Observation #4: While it is true that Elijah, John, Jesus, and others went to the wilderness to rest, avoid people, and pray, Eldredge is making up the idea that they were going to search for themselves. There is not a single verse regarding any of these characters where they are trying to figure out how to be a man, who they are, and what they're made of. It definitely appears that Eldridge conveniently slips that in there unnoticed (by most), but he has no basis for saying it.

Eldredge's second attempt to use scripture to support his idea comes up short, in my mind. I do think that there is something about camp fires, hiking, and doing devotions on a lake that is quite special. But on the same token I can have just as good times with the Lord in my living room. Somehow he forgets that there is a major cultural aspect that must be considered. In our day there are designated areas set aside for wild habitat, parks, and forests. Back then the wilderness was everywhere you turned. For someone in the OT to be in the "wild" was no more abnormal than for us to be on the highway.

Tomorrow I'll be posting on his contempt for Christianity and the church "as it currently exists." And how in making his point, he ignore scriptures that teach what he despises.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wild at Heart: Biblical Evidence, Part 1

Note: I wrote this series almost three years ago on an old blog. The book came up in counseling class today, so I thought I would repost the 5-part series on this blog.

As I begin this little series of posts I want to reiterate that I do not think John Eldredge is a bad man with bad motives.  His motives are to be highly commended.  His passion and desire to help men are very admirable and needed among counselors.  What I take exception to, at least in these posts, is his use of scripture to support his psychological ideas.  These posts are not meant to be thorough and complete, just short, simple, and hopefully, clear.

On page 3 (which is actually page 2 of the actual content) Eldredge begins to make the point that man's heart is "undomesticated, and that is good." (Italics his)  The first use of scripture in the book, and in supposed support of this point in taken right out of Genesis.  First here is what Eldredge says:

"Eve was created within the lush beauty of Eden's garden.  But Adam, if you'll remember, was created outside the garden, in the wilderness.  In the record of our beginnings, the second chapter of Genesis makes it clear: Man was born in the outback, from the untamed part of creation.  Only afterward is he brought to Eden.  And ever since then boys have never been at home indoors, and men have had an insatiable desire to explore." (Italics his, Eldredge, p.3-4)

When I read this the first time my mind said, actually, I don't remember.  So naturally I got out my Bible to see what it said: "then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed... The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it" (Gen. 2:7-8, 15 ESV).

Observation #1: Genesis does not make it clear that Adam was made outside the garden, as Eldredge says, it makes very clear that Adam was made before the garden.  You cannot be born/made outside of something that doesn't yet exist.

Observation #2: Genesis 2:15 says that God put Adam in the garden to work it and keep it.  God's original and primary intention for man was to live in the garden and work to maintain it.

Observation #3: If, as indicated above, God's intention was for man to live and work in the garden, then man's desire to find fulfillment by exploring and leaving the garden/home/work is an attempt to find fulfillment outside of the Father's plan.  Furthermore, Adam leaving (or rather, being kicked out) the garden was nothing less than a curse and punishment for his and Eve's sin.  It was in the garden that Adam had fellowship with God, not in the mountains (preview for tomorrow's post).

The Bible gives no indication that Adam had any such desire to leave the pristine confines of the garden.  Neither should anyone suspect that he did.  For such a desire would be akin to that of seeing, walking, and talking with God, yet somehow being unsatisfying and wanting more.  Wait... it's that what happened to the Deceiver?  Isn't that why Adam and Eve ate the fruit?  Wouldn't that be sin in its most hideous form: rejecting Almighty God after experiencing His presence, glory, and goodness?

Please comment one way or the other.  I am truly open if I have missed something or misinterpreted something myself (I am fully aware that it is very possible).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

“all flesh”

UPDATE: There is another occurrence of a universal “all flesh” in vs. 19 which only adds to the strength of this argument.

I just finished translating Genesis 6. One of the things that stuck out to me was the repeated phrase “all flesh”. One of the many things I enjoy about translating Hebrew is that we are so familiar with the English text that we miss all sorts of details. But when we get into the Hebrew, everything pops out because you don’t skim over anything. Every dot and line (literally) needs to be considered when translating.

Among other things כָּל־בָּשָׂ֛ר (col basar, all flesh) is repeated three times in this chapter. The first use (Gen. 6:12) causes interpreters to waver between a literal understanding (“all flesh”) and figurative (“all people”). However the other two uses (Gen. 6:13, 17) is quite clearly literal since it refers to the end result of God’s plan, and the other is clarified to mean everything which has the breath of life under heaven. Having the breath of life is a trait shared by man and beast alike, and both are most certainly under heaven.

The question then is, is the first use limited compared to the other two? In other words, does the first use have a distinct meaning than the other two? Or do they all carry the same extensive meaning?

At this point I lean toward the latter since the only thing that clearly would limit the meaning in the first instance is the interpreter. There is no clear marker of specification that should cause us to limit the first use to only humans. How does an animal “corrupt their way”? Well, lets just say I consider a dog returning to its vomit corrupted (to cite one very minor example).

What’s the import? What difference does it make? It answers the question “why a global flood?”. If all flesh, man, animals, creeping things, and birds, were corrupted, it didn’t matter that man had not moved beyond the Mesopotamian area. It grieved God to his heart, but he decided in his wisdom that it was better to start [virtually] over and even in that demonstrate his infinite grace in allowing Noah and his sons, who had wicked hearts (Genesis 8:21) and all the animals, to survive and repopulate the earth.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Global flood

I'm reading along in a commentary, and I was struck by Genesis 6:11: "So the Lord said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.""

Another verse repeats the same idea, but perhaps more forcefully: Genesis 6:17 "For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die."

There are several "global" terms here. "Erets" translated "earth", "all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven", "Everything that is on the earth" (erets). While "erets" can be more limited in its meaning, the context here seems to clearly indicate its global nature.

"Land" in 6:11 tranlates the word "adamah" which is usually much more limited than "erets/earth". If all we had was the statement in 6:11, "global flood" advocates would be on shaky ground, but "local flood" advocates must account for the repetive global references in 6:17. The use of "adamah" does not force a local flood, particularly when other contextual factors expand the meaning. The term is also abstract in that it doesn't necessarily refer to a specific plot of land. Adam was made of the dust of "adamah". The term there is referring to ground in an abstract way. God was not referring to a portion of ground that could be found via longitue and lattitude.

The following question was posted in a comment a while ago: If it is as Scripture and Paleontology seem to suggest that the pre-flood people remained within the Mesopotamian area. What need would God have of wiping out entire animal kingdoms which have never had contact with sinful man?

Genesis 6:12 "And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth."

It is possible that "all flesh" only refers to humans, but that is interpretive. Whether or not it is limited to humans or includes animal, the point is that God saw that earth and it was corrupt. Man was corrupt, yes, but so was the earth.

Another question: Is the global flood theology born out of exegetical necessity or out of the need to explain the millions of fossil records we see today?

Yes, out of exegetical necessity. What exegetical evidence is there for a local flood that outweighs the texts above (not fossil record). The belief in a global flood was held long before the fossil record was known. Justin Martyr, Theophilus (c. 115-185), Tertullian (A.D. 115-222), Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D. 329-389), and Augustine (4th century) are all on record as holding to a world-wide flood. That is only in the period of the Church Fathers (and that's not to say they were the only ones of their time that held this belief).