Some time ago I gave a lecture to a graduate class on several questions concerned with logic, thinking about God and certain issues in theology. You might be interested in this. Here is the link (if you have the time – it’s pretty long).
Archive for June 2nd, 2011
So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Exodus 2:24 NASB
Remembered – American Christianity is unique in its stress on the victorious life, its expectation of rescue at any moment, its theology of personal salvation, its assumption of assured deliverance, and its spiritualization of Kingdom battles. In American Christianity, the specter of duplicitous motivations strikes terror in the hearts of religious men and women who are convinced that production of inner spiritual attitudes will guarantee winning ways in the world.
The Jewish perspective is different. In the Hebrew paradigm, perseverance is paramount. Righteous deeds are redemptive regardless of inner motivation, fulfilling the mitzvot is a sign of victory even if it results in death, and life here and now has much more meaning and priority than the confusing and opaque idea of life after death. The Hebrew paradigm is about reward and punishment, worked out in the daily walk.
In American Christianity positive and tranquil relationship with God is supposed to produce success in the world. But apparently someone forgot to tell that to Moses, David and the prophets. In the Bible, victory often takes more than a single lifetime. Most followers of YHWH never see the day of vindication. They follow His instructions for living because they are His instructions, not because following them will bring about a happy life.
The Hebrew verb zakar principally describes actions that bring something to mind. But this isn’t simply a cognitive exercise. It’s not like remembering that the capitol of Paraguay is Asunción. Zakar is both personal and relational. To remember is to “take to heart” with the intention of acting upon the matter. This creates a biblical paradox because it seems as if God takes a very long time to take things to heart. It took centuries for God to “remember” His covenant. Generations of people were born and died during Egyptian bondage. God didn’t act quickly. The same circumstances apply to the Flood, the Incarnation and now to the Second Coming. The Bible focuses on straight-line depreciation while it seems that our contemporary flavor of Christianity prefers accelerated depreciation. We want to get to the finish line fast. The Bible doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry. Perhaps we should reflect on the protracted nature of God’s view of history. Perhaps the program is just a bit bigger than our need for instant attention. Perhaps it is enemy infiltration that has convinced us that God should remember according to our measurements of time. Moses asked the right question when God told him that he would bring the people out of Egypt. He just didn’t understand the question he asked. “Who am I that I should do this thing?” Yes, well, you are the one God chose. I wonder if that’s enough for us.
Topical Index: remember, zakar, time, Exodus 2:24