Sunday, December 04, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent: Hebrews 11

In one reckoning, the second Sunday of Advent thinks about hope.  Hebrews 11 might seem like a strange place to go for Advent.  It is more usually associated with faith.  But hope and faith are intricately connected in Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11 does not give a definition of faith but multiple descriptions of faith.  It's opening proverb is that faith is the stuff we have now of things we are hoping will come to pass.  Faith is the proof we have now of things we do not yet see.  In keeping with the overall meaning of Hebrews, Hebrews connects faith with continuing on in our journey through this world even though Christ has not yet returned.  In this context, faith is about endurance.  It is believing in the things for which we hope even though they have not yet materialized.

In the context of Hebrews, the invisible has to do with promises God has given us for the future.  These are not promises not to suffer.  Quite the contrary--Hebrews 11 is full of examples of people who did suffer on this earth, though they looked to a city and country that was yet to come.  But we can of course expand the meaning to things we cannot see now too.

We can believe this year that God is in control, despite the fact that he allows a lot of things to happen we might want to change if we were God.  We can believe that it is right to love our enemies and to live a selfless life, even though our human intuition tells us this is stupidity.  And we can believe that one day, God will play out the final reset on evil that he started on the cross.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

and those that don't have faith and hope (to continue on this journey) kill those in the Arkadi monastery who didn't want to submit to Turkish rule!

So, we have a choice to live under oppressive rule and "die" politically, or kill oneself because we choose not to be another's "puppet"! We choose a Socratic death, not a martyr's.

Ken Schenck said...

The thing is, Angie, you seem to think that there is more hope for a person who has no sense of God. If there is no God, there is only the meaning we make for ourselves and it is a puff of wind that blows away with the last memory of our existence. Those who died in Marion last week, if there is nothing more, then there is nothing more of them but whatever time we spend to think of them from here on out. True, many atrocious things are done in the name of religion. But many noble things are also done. It doesn't make it true, but there is without question far more hope for those who believe than for those who don't.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pacifying the realities of life with platitudes does nothing to really bring our loved ones. We live with the fact that they no longer exist and we cannot bring back the person. We live with our memories of our loved ones and isn't this why people like to leave behind and determine their legacies (what THEY want to leave behind, as to their memory)!

Humans like to have choices about thier lives, this is what has made America great in pursuing personal interests, not someone's else's opinion or conviction about the "sweet by and by"....In fact, religious liberty WAS the main componant of our nation's "REBELLION", as well as establishing an order that was based on the "rule of law" and not a DIVINE RIGHT of leadership! Congress was not to ESTABLISH a Religion, thus allowing people to choose how and whether they will worship "God"!

In a free society, individuals are allowed the liberty to choose, which is about meaning. Meaning is a self-chosen value system, not a uniform worldview of how things "ought to be". (such systems can be scientific, as well as religious!)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

You know that the only commonality is man's ability to experience "life". Religion nor political viewpoints will make for "peace" or unity.

And sciptures are just about the experiences of humans.

The Old Testament (as Judy preached today) uses "scare tactics" to make people compliant to a "God". Israel and others who disobey "God" are to be overtaken by their enemies. This is theologically understood as "God's discipline", so that the erring "child" will turn back and repent. But, the real situations behind ancient history is about human survival and power.

The evolutionist seeks to limit power, so that the powerless (politically, economically, educationally, etc.) will be able to survive. Therefore, the promotion of the "social gospel".

Today, there seems to be some effort to bring co-operation for the "world's resources", as scientists fear humans will "self destruct". Humans must cease certain behaviors unless they want the human species to cease to exist. Social consciousess is what religion is about. Neuroscientist are interested in how consciousess develops and how it affects behavior as well as how behavior impacts social consciousness. Social consciousness has been the clarion call for eons in different political philosophies, such as socialism and communism. In fact, if societies develop and become better, then, we are headed for the more developed view of society in socialism. Thus, capitalism is to be the "odd dog" or the persecuted opinion and view of economics and human flourishing. Isn't this Marx's view? It certainly would be a "protection" against the survival of the fittest! But, does it REALLY protect against human will, ingenuity, corruption, and self-determination?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

You know that the only commonality is man's ability to experience "life". Religion nor political viewpoints will make for "peace" or unity.

UNLESS there is a POWER ELITE that carry out their views upon us ALL thus limiting human choices about their lives, as to interests, values and political opinions! That would be an authoritarianism that would inhibit liberty of the individual. But, it might just bring conformity at the costs of many lives that don't submit!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Those that put their faith in scripture (evangelicals) believe that THOSE IN AUTHORITY (spiritual) have a right to claim power over another's life (they have been given that power as a "right by God"!).

Such is an attitude of arrogance ("God" has called them, they really believe! or some might believe that social engineering is their right because of special insight into how society "should" function),....but maybe Wesleyans (Presbyterians in the Founding era) take "Covenant" as they did in ancient times, as a real payment for sin, as a BLOOD covenant, where LIFE is required of another. This is "atonement" or social conformity. Unity or death!

Sacrifice is always useful to appease the "gods", or "the God". And this is supposed to bring "unity and peace", as "walking in Jesus example"! Then, the Church could build itself upon the backs of others and train others to not "backtalk" or have "freethought"! Submission is the only option in such scenarios, because "God" demands it!

You don't have any prospects of bringing "Hebrews" "to life", do you?

FrGregACCA said...

Angie, have you read a little book called "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl?

Dr. Frankl, a psychiatrist, was also a survivor of the Holocaust and a major theme of his book concerns who was able, and who was not able, to cope with the horrors of the German concentration camps.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Yes, I read that, but it has been a long time ago. Karl Menninger's "What Has Become of Sin" also take a psyciatrist view of religion.

So, does this mean we have a choce between believing some "myth" for consolation when real realities aren't liberal to our situadedness? OR we beleve in a "revolutionaary faith", such as "Liberation Theology"?! Both use theology to bring about different results. I couldn't give man a hope I don't believe in. That would be dishonest for me.

Is political liberty important? Should man live in a "free society", such as ours was meant to be? Hasn't this been the traditional understanding of human rights? Human rights doesn't have to be "spiritualized", because it addresses directly the political questions concerning governments that oppress.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

and those government can be religious or non-religous....the questions is one of "rights".

FrGregACCA said...

Angie, I would not expect you to give someone hope through something in which you do not believe.

However, it may be reasonable for you to recognize that others' mileage may vary.