Wednesday, March 21, 2012

6.3 Transition from Collective Guilt in OT

Continued from yesterday
... Many Christians want to trump Jesus with the Old Testament, but there are two reasons why this is inappropriate.  First, the judgment of the Old Testament falls in the category of God's action, not our orchestration. Paul says as much in the New Testament: "leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay'" (Rom. 12:19). In other words, it is not normally our business as individuals to administer judgment. [1]

The second is because the Old Testament understanding of things is sometimes incomplete without the New Testament. Indeed, even within the space of the Old Testament itself we sometimes find a development of how God operates or how Israel understands things.  For example, prior to Israel's captivity in Babylon, God is "punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me" (Deut. 5:9).

This pre-exile material has a sense of corporate guilt, such that the generation that the Babylonians destroy and take away is not actually the group of Israelites that did the sin. Thus Psalm 44:17 remarks that "All this came upon us, though we had not forgotten you; we had not been false to your covenant." Even though king Josiah is the most righteous king of Israel yet, his goodness does not counterbalance God's anger for the evil of his grandfather Manasseh (2 Kings 23:25-27).

If we find this sense of collective guilt difficult to fit with our Christian understanding of God, it is noteworthy that parts of the Old Testament itself had difficulty with it as well.  Ezekiel 18 wrestles with Israel's destruction because of its parents' sins: "The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge" (18:2).  No longer, God says, will it work this way.  Rather, from now on, "The one who sins is the one who will die" (18:4).

Christians who like the idea of God punishing all America because some group in America is doing wrong usually don't notice this passage or the similar passage in Jeremiah 31:29-30. Similarly, there is a real tension between the teaching of Jesus and anyone who would use parts of the Old Testament to support a lust for judgment on one's enemies.

What Jesus said was to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). There's no wiggling out of it. If you don't like what Jesus says here, be honest about it. Don't pretend that Jesus said something different or try to use the Old Testament to trump Jesus. Any application of Scripture you use that tries to justify hatred of some person or group of people is simply not Christian. It's something else...

[1] That of course does not mean that there is not a place for governments to work for justice in the world, although such actions of governments are fraught with problems and prone to injustice themselves.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

Without discriminaton, there is no judgment, and without judgment, there is no way to determine values or goals. And values and goals are what individuals in our society are allowed to prioritize in/for their life. This is the place of reason, or self-justification, which we all do in seeking after our values and goals.

Love, in Jesus' terms, does not allow for such discrimination or distinction,of values, because 'love is blind". The Church builds itself on the backs of those that have such commitments.

The question should be, for Christians is; did Jesus have a choice, whether to die on the Cross, or was he unable to choose, as he was pre-determined? Those that side with Jesus having a true struggle in the Garden of Gethsemene would agree that he did. Others would theologize away his true humanity.

If Jesus was truely man; the question then becomes, whether one desires to believe that this is "God's requirement", the death of one's values, hopes, dreams and desires. Is self-annilhilation "God's desire"? One has to choose to believe the text, as written to adhere to such an understanding.

Some would argue that it would be discpleship to submit, for the sake of others. This is an irrational stance and commitment, but it is one of 'faith". And the Church has used it for eons and monks, nuns, and saints through the ages have submitted to such 'faith'.

On the side of understing the role of government, Rome was sort of a facist State, in that it allowed for religious expression, but not if it costs in terms of "peace". In this sense, the government controlled "free speech", not the individual societies.

This is an interesting article that describes Facism.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Are you proposing that there really is no 'social justice', then?

I don't think so, as 'social justice" frames rights under group definitions, which undermine indivdual persons! While persons have the right to freely associate with group definitions, these same group definitons, might undermine liberty in the name of minority or priviledged status!

Corporations have personhood, in our American context, which protects the right of corporate lobbying attempts. Are such "group protections" that grant rights over and above individual persons an attempt at priviledging a particular group, at the expense of others? Are these 'specially priviledged groups' always granted an innocence, without a trial to investigate whether charges of discrimination, by individuals are valid? And, do these "social definitions" underline and undermine our system of justice itself?

I think so! The political discourse today is formulated under Democratic tactics as "women's rights'. Read the following;

While this is so, the GOP is not innocent in vying for government priviledge (status) as to contracts, which undermine the 'free market', esp. if there has been a "relationship formed" that protects 'crony capitalism"....

How are we to protect our nation from crony capitalism and/or manipulation of the public by 'minority group think"?

One thing is for sure; Some polititians want us to share in "COLLECTIVE GUILT"!