Sunday, September 23, 2012

the key to Israel's history: the rejection of Babylon and Egypt

I love the observation in Peterson's "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction" (p. 31) that "The whole history of Israel is set in motion by two...acts of 'world rejection', which freed the people for an affirmation of God: the rejection of Mesopotamia in the days of Abraham and the rejection of Egypt in the days of Moses. All the wisdom and strength of the ancient world were in Mesopotamia and Egypt."

The Bible indicates that we are to cast off "the world" (defined as the world "system" in opposition to God; I Jn 2:15-17) without casting off all aspects of the world. Look at the work of God in Israel's history-- e.g., with respect to the re-casting of pagan myths and pagan practices such as circumcision. Look at the lives of other Biblical heroes-- most notably, Daniel in chapter 1 (as he famously rejects some but certainly not all that Babylon has to offer) and in later chapters as he works within pagan administrations. Look at the call to Jesus' disciples-- that they be "of the world", but not "in the world" (e.g., Jn 9:5). Look at Paul, quoting pagan poets three times and being able to speak to all sorts of non-believer and non-disciple audiences.And so on.

As you look deeper, it becomes obvious that applying these principles is not simple. Look at Israel post-Egypt and the money they're given on the way out the door-- a chunk of which builds the Tabernacle and a chunk of which builds the Golden Calf. We use money but we're not to worship Mammon. We eat but we're not to be gluttons. We can drink alcohol, but not unto drunkenness. We are commanded to enjoy God's good gifts, but to the extent of idolatry. And so on.

It's easy to absorb and be absorbed by the world. It's easy to avoid the world and its influences. But neither is Biblical. Salvation starts with an admission and rejection and payment for our sin. Discipleship begins with a general rejection of Babylon and Egypt-- and then wrestles with how to be "in the world" but not "of the world".


At September 23, 2012 at 5:13 PM , Blogger Jameson Bledsoe said...

Eric, I really appricate the second to last paragraph. Moderation seems to be the underlining thread. Moderation is of course a balencing act that I think transends all aspects of our life: government, community, work, economy, etc. That's why I've never fully committed myself to Libertarian Principles, or any ideological princples outside of Christianity. As for Libertarianism, I can't get passed the "minimalist" government mentality that Libertarians seem to advocate for. To me, it disrupts the balence of power that should take place between government vs. individualality. Instead of making government so small that it can be "flushed down a drain", I feel it wiser that "moderation" should be advocated for in regards to government. I can't help feel that the quickest way to achive tryanny is by undermining democratic government which by nature is intrinsic to market forces. In a true democratic government the balence of power should be maintained, thereby providing the truest form of liberty, but without a governmental institution to apply that power a non-democratic institution would materialize. And as a caveat, a government not based on morality is by nature tyrannical and that's why "religion" plays an important part in government. I find that the long term nature of Libertarianism would only lead to tyranny without the necessary check moral democratic government provides.

At September 23, 2012 at 5:15 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Balance is an important principle but not the only one, so it does not necessarily lead you to a Biblically consistent political philosophy.

If you're interested in the combination of political philosophy and the Bible, you'd enjoy my second book, Turn Neither to the Right to the Left.


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