"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Bible On Our Struggles

After speaking of Creation in the Bible and claiming "the earliest verses of the Bible introduce the notion that order is not the natural state of the world; chaos is," author Bruce Feiler writes:

The rest of the Hebrew Bible seems to support the idea that God is constantly struggling against forces of chaos, disorder, and disrespect.  He boots Adam and Eve from his garden after they disobey his order; he destroys the world with a flood after the people act sinfully; he lashes out at his freshly liberated people after they build a golden calf at Mount Sinai; he summons Nebuchadnezzar to wipe out Jerusalem after the people despoil the Promised Land with debauchery.   His chosen people, too, struggle against waves of evil enemies -- the Egyptians, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians.  The idea that the Bible represents some halcyon time that if we only get back to we could all live happily ever after is absurd. The Bible suggests there never were good ole days. Every day is a struggle. The Bible is neither conservative, in that it recommends returning to a better time, nor is it optimistic that a better time lies ahead.  The Bible is redemptive, in that it gives humans the ability to save themselves.

What do you think? Do you tend to agree that chaos is the natural state of the world? that we are working toward redeeming ourselves from it? that there is no ideal state or time to go back to? that "good ole days" never existed? that every day is a struggle? there is no optimism that better days are coming? why or why not? Please share your thoughts on this passage.

pg. 236-237  Where God Was Born: A Journey By Land to the Roots of Religion by Bruce Feiler


Unknown said...

I like it. :)

I don't think order would keep trying to assert itself if chaos (and only chaos) was the natural way of things. I think that there is a mixture of both, and it's as natural for humans to try to order the world (by learning about it and building houses and pretty much everything we do) as it is for an earthquake to cause chaos and destruction. So...I agree that there's no time before or in the future without that chaos. I'm not sure I would say that the chaos is necessarily and completely bad, as some sort of enemy to overcome, and I think that at times the Bible shows God adding to the chaos. One example is shown in the quote - creating the golden calf was humanity acting against chaos, adding some order to their world and trying to overcome their trouble. God destroys it, replaces the order they have created with his own chaos.

The creation of new things often starts with destruction of the old. When Israel struggles against "waves of evil enemies," what is really happening is that different groups of people are each trying to impose their own order on the world. That's going to cause conflict, and I wouldn't say one side is necessarily more "evil" than the other, it's just the natural result of different people wanting to clear out the other to make room for their own way. I think that it is possible things can get better in the future, but it requires that we understand this tendency and work with it by respecting others. It's something we'll probably have to work for, not something that's going to magically occur at some point in the future.

Suroor said...

I never thought about that. Interesting! Will think more on it and come back. Thanks for sharing,Susie.

Amber said...

I don't think that chaos is the natural order of the world, or even that we live in chaos now. It's more that we perceive chaos in things that we cannot control. I guess I tend to think that there's an order, but since we're viewing it from inside the machine, as it were, that we can't see the entirety of the order and so it looks like things happen randomly and for no reason. But then again, I don't think that God's up there micromanaging every last little thing about the universe, let alone people's lives.

Not that the machine analogy is perfect, since God does interact with His creation at specific points in large ways, and smaller ways at others.

I would agree that there is no 'ideal time' to go back to, or to go forward to. This world won't be perfect until after it ends, and then it won't really be *this* world, will it?

I actually sort of think that the flaws are built into the system. Yes, the Fall, yadda, yadda. But again, without a system where we have the choices to make, what was the point of free will?

Susanne said...

Sanil, you always bring up such interesting things. I like the thought of one person's order is another person's non-order. You often make me think! :)

Suroor, sounds good!

Amber, I like your thoughts! Good thinking about us seeing chaos simply because we cannot control something. Hmmm, flaws built into the system....maybe so.

Thanks, all, for your feedback!

Rebekka @ Becky's Kaleidoscope said...

Whether chaos is the natural state of the world, or, as Sanil and Amber touched upon, what we might consider chaos might not be chaos at all seen from above, or seen from a different point of view.

I definitely don't think we would gain anything by "going back" or going to the future. Perfection will never be achieved - but that doesn't mean we should stop trying to improve.