George Fox: Gerstenberger Lecture Notes 3

... Of course, if you use these texts in contemporary times, you find things we don't do today.  We don't use curses, the way they are used in the Psalms.  Psalm 109 is a terrible verse!  We don't do that!  We have to know that this was ancient practice and we can no longer use this Psalm in a normal situation.
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Anyway, I wanted to point out the affinity of old texts.  They are not always usable and compatible.  But knowing that times and situations change, we can manage to relativize a little bit.

I want to go to the second part...
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SECOND: those situations that are larger than family.  Like neighborhoods.  What happens when a neighborhood has to settle problems by itself, like manslaughter or theft?  Communities or states or ethnic groups, so on and so on...
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I think, here, the problem may be even a little larger or more intense with the changing times, from three thousand years ago to today.  We have to keep that time lapse of about 3,000 years between us and the Biblical text.  We are experiencing today changes in our own lifetimes.  When I talk to children and people in their thirties, they already have different views - changes are going on ever more rapidly.


We're pausing briefly due to a battery problem with the mic.

Okay, we're back on!  Continuing:


Anyway, these groups experience their own revelations of God.  These different groups, we have to ask them, "what did you do about this?"  And they say, "Oh, we don't know about that.  We don't know about gene manipulation."  What do we do now?


>>More After the Break...

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What do we do in the case of atomic weapons?  Atomic energy in contrast to natural kinds of energy?  Other energies which are not damaging anybody.  In Germany the problem is very high at the moment.  Germany is one of the few states which decided 20 years ago to leave atomic energy behind.  To radically eliminate it.  And now, a reversal of this politics is coming up.  There are strong interests, and there are those who say we can't do without... that's a very difficult situation.  There are tens of thousands of people on the road and the rail trying to prevent the transport of nuclear components for a plant.
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There are hundreds of these modern problems for which we cannot open the Bible and say, "here's a specific solution."  But we certainly can find, throughout all the layers of Biblical writings, similar problems.  What did people do when confronted with problems of justice, of equity, how to handle enemies, how to behave in battle, how to avoid battle... we can certainly find assertions and reflections in the Old Testament text.  And if you know that the OT text has a certain outlook, then we can dialogue with them.
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THIRD: Today we're living in a time - we use the world "Globalization."  Things have so rapidly and fundamentally changed that we really have to be conscious of the fact that people all over the world - the destruction of natural resources, of water, the increase in terrible tornados and tsunamis, and the progress of science, the economy, everything is interwoven to an unbelievable degree.  The financial crash two years ago showed this.  We are really experiencing and suffering and thriving on global affairs.  Strangely enough, the ancient document of the Bible, very old, that was the first book talking about globalization.  You see, starting with Genesis, the whole world was created as one piece!  In Brazil there are some tribes which still live at a Stone Age stage.  They believe the five villages they inhabit were created by God.  The Bible tells us differently: that the whole world was created by God.  And our beliefs today are different from that, when we see with telescopes, the universe, galaxies, there is some distance between here and the moon and the next fixed stars - it's far too far to walk to.  Or even a rocket - much too slow!  In your lifetime you will not get anyway.  All of it is created by God.
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Anyway, the global aspect - it's there in the Bible.  Imagine!
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The Old Testament is quite up-to-date at this point, speaking about humanity as a whole, and a God who is for all people, not only for us!  I think it's a very bad thing sometimes a Christian trap to think that God is only for our confession.  Or for even our small and tiny confession of particular Christian faith.  And everyone else are outsiders.  That's very bad theology.  The Bible tells us differently!
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We have to see this: global responsibility.
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We of course relate these three (or more) levels of existence to each other.  You cannot rely only on family religion.  Family religion must relate to state or group religion.  And these have to expand to global faith!  Even on the level of congregational life.
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