Like almost everyone, I’m paying a little more attention to the news these days. The plight of Ukraine boggles my mind and reads like a replay from Mr. Sincerbeaux’s 20th Century European History class in which he skillfully dramatized the nefarious schemes of Soviet Russia as it engulfed most of Eastern Europe.
The earnest commentator on NPR had her PhD in international law and was weighing in quite eloquently on the topic of “crimes against humanity.” I nodded in silent agreement with her as she insisted that even if Russia’s atrocities do not rise to the level of “genocide,” we should still be outraged.
“It’s dehumanization of human beings,” she said. And I waited…
But the crowning feature of her argument never came. Earnest, articulate, well-educated, and fully qualified to speak on the topic, she circled the airport, but never landed. God had seeded within her heart an awareness that human life is precious and worth saving, but the truth didn’t find its way into her argument.
I felt the omission like a missing tooth, for God’s special connection with humanity needed to be said in order to justify her level of outrage. We are not like other creatures or objects, and we are certainly not mere obstacles that can be mown over by tanks or decimated by bombs with impunity. We are God’s image bearers, and any argument that stops short of mentioning that comes up short.
In His Image to Glorify Him
The New City Catechism asks, “How and why did God create us?”
The answer, “God created us male and female in his own image to glorify him” may be one of the most controversial theological statements I could make today, certainly scandalous enough to get me “cancelled” in some circles. It’s the essence of our worth, and I believe it was the missing link in my well-intentioned NPR scholar’s argument. I also believe it was the reason behind the fever pitch in her voice, even if she is not aware of it yet.
The fourth-century theologian Gregory of Nyssa argued, “The sky is not an image of God, nor is the moon, nor the sun, nor the beauty of the stars, nor anything of what can be seen in creation. [Only humans] have been made the image of the Reality that transcends all understanding, the likeness of imperishable beauty, the imprint of true divinity, the recipient of beatitude, the seal of the true light.”
Let’s pray earnestly that the experts we encounter might have their research concluded and completed and the essence of their arguments shot all the way to the foundation of God while they are still on this planet and able to enjoy him forever.
We are not like other creatures or objects. We are certainly not mere obstacles that can be mown over by tanks or decimated by bombs with impunity. We are God’s image bearers. Any argument that stops short of that comes up short.Tweet
And Now, Let’s Talk Books…
Because the Bible is a collection of sixty-six books, it is also a jumble of genres. It’s true that scripture tells one cohesive story, but the form or style of storytelling changes radically from book to book. While author Kristie Anyabwile advocates for a literal reading of the Bible’s commands and truths, she argues that we should also be reading Literarily, “according to the literary makeup of the book, chapter, or section of scripture we’re reading.”
In Old Testament books of the Law and Narrative and in the New Testament Gospels, it’s clear that the authors are telling a story with characters and a plot. The New Testament Epistles are letters, and for the most part, a straight forward reading suffices. However, with Poetry, Wisdom Lit, Prophecy, and Apocalyptic books and passages, wide use of metaphor and figurative language make it necessary for the reader to use discernment in understanding exactly what the author was trying to convey to his original audience.
Anyabwile offers a road map to heighten readers’ awareness of Bible genres alongside guidance on how to treat some of the trickier sections. Her style is accessible and her examples and stories are memorable. It’s clear that she holds a high view of scripture and is committed to the importance of women studying scripture for themselves with confidence.
The greater our skill in reading and comprehending the sacred text, the greater will be our ability to apply it to our lives–and this is an endeavor well worth our effort and a lifetime of practice!
Thanks again for reading!
Holding you in the Light,
Employ a literal reading of the Bible’s commands and truths, but you should also be reading #Literarily, “according to the literary makeup of the book, chapter, or section of scripture we’re reading.” @MoodyPublishers #bookreviewTweet
A New Free Resource…
Curiosity has been my strange companion since my recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease, so I’ve created a resource to invite you into curiosity along with me! God is not some grumpy parent, silencing his children and condemning our questions.
This line of thinking sent me on a biblical scavenger hunt for questions posed by the Bible’s authors. What were they asking and how should this affect the questions I’m asking and the way my curiosity is framed?
To receive your copy of “Half a Dozen Biblical Questions for Entering (and Enduring) Hard Times” simply enter your email and then click on the button below…
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Many thanks to Moody Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.