Monday, November 21, 2011

FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS - Chapter Twelve (continued)

...continued from previous post...

The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Were Adam and Eve the first people on the earth?

Clearly not...and that's according to the Scriptures.

Moses indeed begins his narrative about God's covenant with humanity with only Adam and Eve and their children, but in the fourth chapter of Genesis, after Cain kills Abel, we hear of other people who are already alive and living somewhere else in the earth.

After the murder, Cain is sentenced to become a vagabond, roaming around with no place to settle down. So he tells God that he is afraid that as he travels the earth, when other people find out that he committed fratricide that they will want to kill him, too.

So God puts a mark on him as a warning to anyone else who might want to do him harm because they had gotten wind of his terrible crime...and the mark means that everyone else who already lives on the earth is to leave Cain alone.

Other people already lived on the earth?


The Genesis account isn't clear about that, but whoever they were, they obviously had the ability to communicate, gossip, and threaten other people with murder.

And in the following verses we see that Cain ends up going to a place that already existed, east of Eden, called Nod.

There was apparently already a civilization there in Nod, and Cain finds a woman in that place who he marries, and they become the parents of Enoch.

If you rigidly hold to the idea that Adam and Eve and their children were the first people, then you can't make any sense of this part of the story...and you also have to conclude that Cain committed incest by marrying his own sister. In fact, if you follow this fundamentalist notion as an absolute, you would have to believe that all of the children of Adam and Eve married and had children with their siblings.

Typically, fundamentalists miss the point of this story, entirely.

The point is not the literalness of the historical facts of Adam's family...the point is, I believe, that God wants to be (and is very much) involved in the affairs of human beings...that our actions have consequences...and that even in punishing Cain for his wicked deed, God still shows him mercy and offers him protection.

These are important and powerful concepts...the multi-faceted moral of the story...the "truth" of the Genesis account, if you will.

Was there a flood that destroyed the entire world, except for the eight Hebrew people on Noah's Ark?

There most likely was a terrible and devastating flood in antiquity that caused mass destruction, and telling about it became part of the oral tradition of ancient peoples. But it seems impossible to believe that the flora and fauna, not to mention all the people of the earth, were all destroyed in one universal, global flood.

First of all, Moses, no doubt, would have believed that the earth was flat when he and whoever else wrote Genesis relayed the story of the Great Flood. Their idea of the whole world would have been just the world that they knew about.

Furthermore, if there were only 8 Hebrews saved on the entire planet, then where did Asians and Africans and Europeans and all the indigenous people of the earth come from?

The point of the story, as far as I'm concerned, isn't whether or not there were actually and literally two kangaroos and two zebras and two grasshoppers, etc. on the ark...the point of the story (and again, fundamentalists seem to miss this, altogether), is that one man can make a difference...indeed, one man can save the world!

If there were not a Noah story, there could be no Gandhi story...

...or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr story....

...or Rosa Parks story...

...or the story of any other individual who has made an impact on humanity to the point that history was actually altered by their actions.

In reality, there couldn't even be a Jesus, the Savior, story without a Noah story.

Look, I'm not saying that the stories of the Bible are fables...I personally believe that there is an element of truth in all of them.

I can believe that there was a literal Adam and a literal Eve, but not to the point that I overlook and misunderstand the symbolism of their personalities in the story of God's relationship to humanity...

I believe that people who take the Bible so literally that they accept every single word of it as an absolute completely bypass the importance and significance of the power of story-telling.

Jesus certainly understood and employed the art of story-telling, because He taught nearly entirely in parables, and the effectiveness of His colorful tales have little to nothing to do with whether or not there was an actual/literal Unjust Judge or Prodigal Son or Good Samaritan.

And if you read the four Gospel accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus, you basically find four different versions of the events of that day...there is no official story of record, and you'd think there would be, considering that the Resurrection is perhaps the most important event recorded in the Bible.

But the one constant of the four stories is that Jesus was dead, and then He was alive. That's what matters...not how many women were in the garden, or how many angels there were, or whether or not there was an earthquake, or whether or not Jesus commissioned Mary Magdalene to tell the disciples about it.

Fundamentlism fixates on the facts of the story, and ignores the inspiration and relinquishes the revelation of the narrative. the Bible true or not?

The Bible certainly contains truth, and ultimately reveals "The Truth"...but it must be rightly divided before any truth can actually be found in it.

And, as I've already said...if you know where to look, you find that it's truthfully just loaded with pretty much nothing but GOOD NEWS!


Anonymous said...

You blew me away my Bishop. Talk about truth. This is it.


Erik said...

Bishop, the story re Cain, and others that occupied the planet as the story focuses on Adam and Eve are so well explored. The world as we know it, was well populated as our Abrahamic faiths focused on Adam and Eve. Same issue with The Flood and Noah.

Thank you for putting out there again, the point of the overall picture, is that God is involved in each of our lives, and Allah protects each of Us , even in regard to Cain, and the world re Noah.

All IS GOOD NEWS, with The Creator within Us, Among Us and As Us.

Erik said...

From your chapter --- 'But the one constant of the four stories is that Jesus was dead, and then He was alive. That's what matters...'

I am adding an additional comment. The above quote from your post is really the issue. To me, the most important aspect of Jesus' life is trusting God completely. That, to me, is what matters. Trusting God is something each of us struggles with in regard to our natural lives based on whatever we value and the lack of it, -- relationships, accomplishments, health, money, possessions, respect, fame, perceived value, esteem, and on and on . None of these are greater than God, yet each of us struggles with one or more of these, or others in our life experience of our value of our own lives, while diminishing our trust in God. We trust these transient aspects of creation, and less so the permanent God.

That is what Jesus represents to me.