While I’m in the mood for trying to express myself by the power of analogy I thought I’d share – for those not reading the comments on yesterday’s post – I thought I’d share this “gem” with you.
I’m still trying to come up with a way to affirm the good in all the good frameworks for Biblical Theology – and I’m loving Dr Leigh’s “expectation and fulfillment” (coming soon to a publication near you) idea.
I think any simplification causes the object in focus to suffer, because it can’t possibly not – simplifications involve cutting out of bits that don’t fit the “big idea”, though like some sculpture said “when I sculpt a statue of a horse I take a block of wood and cut away all the bits that aren’t horse” (rough paraphrase)… this got me thinking a bit. Simplifications are good for clarity. They help us see the main game. They help us appreciate the value. It’s a bit like diamonds. Uncut diamonds are worth a lot – because they have such potential. There are all sorts of directions you can go with the diamond thing as an analogy for Biblical Theology – each system is like a jeweler’s lens – they help us to appreciate something about the value of the diamond. And they help us to get rid of rubbish ideas about the meaning of passages (eg moral teachings from the OT that ignore Christ). But here’s where I went in the comments last night (with some modifications). I think it’s more helpful to think of each (good) system of Biblical theology as a facet of a precious jewel…
I like to think of the Bible as a really big diamond – one that is so big we can’t look at it all at once. You can look at one facet of the diamond and through it see all the others, this can distort each other facet if you forget that you can flip the diamond around and look at it from a different angle. Some people stand too close, or lack depth perception, and will only see one facet of the diamond ignoring all the others. Some will want to break the diamond up into lots of pieces, thus devaluing it.
The best way to appreciate the diamond is to step back and see that there are many facets at work and that each of them contributes to the diamond’s beauty in a slightly different way. Light hits each and refracts differently. If I wanted to be trite I would say “when you shine a light into any facet of the diamond and focus that light on a smooth surface it makes a cross – no matter which facet you point the diamond through…” But I’m not trite, so I won’t.
I think I quite enjoy essay writing. Though I may have romanticised it from my fleeting memories of putting in caffeine fueled all-nighters on deadline day while I was at uni. I’m trying to figure out what the difference is between essay writing and blogging (other than the finding reputable sources to cite bit).
Here is what I’ve come up with (not as a difference, but as a reflection on the art). I might be wrong. Feel free to crush my analogy in its infancy in the comments.
Essay writing is like finding threads of common quality from an array of garments, and tugging them out of those items in order to weave your own smaller and less significant rag.
Obviously you don’t damage the original in the process – unless you really go out of your way to discredit it.
I am enjoying the essay I’m writing for Bruce Winter’s Christ and the Clash of Cultures subject. Here is the question:
Citizens in the first century met in the context that declared who they were. Discuss the implications of this for the gatherings of the first Christians in the Roman East.
I’m sort of dancing around the question and trying to just write about the differences between the way the church ate together and the way pagan Rome ate at idol temples and banquets. I think I’ve jumped through enough logical hoops to synchronise the question with my topic.