What Would Jesus Blog?

It’s all just as messy as it’s meant to be!

by on Apr.24, 2012, under Uncategorized

So, I’ve finally gotten around to a bit of reading this evening; at Tim’s recommendation, I’m ploughing through Culture Making┬áin the hope that Crouch will come to some kind of point sometime soon. I’m 120 pages in, and I’m assured it’s coming in about 60 more! I’ve just read through some chapters that talk about the beginning and the end of the Bible story – from Eden to the new Jerusalem, and how in the middle, God constantly gives his created people enough space to be creative, to make mistakes, to turn away or to turn towards him.

Any time I think about the Biblical narrative as a single story I’m brought back to the idea that God’s big story for creation is like a Shakespeare play for which the fourth act has been mostly lost. We know the first three acts; we know how it all starts and we have stories that have developed our characters. We know the final act; we know how it ends. We know Shakespeare; we know what he’s like. Our role in the story is to act in a way that fits in with that fourth act; to draw on our experience and creativity to produce something that fits into the gap. It’s because of this that I’m convinced that narrative theology is so important – it’s possible to argue almost anything with the Bible, but if it doesn’t fit into the story of the Bible and what we know of God outside of Scripture, it’s probably wrong.

I find myself arguing against principles with this on a regular basis, even if the person I’m arguing with believes in the same end result as me. Let’s take a classic example; drug abuse. It’s possible to synthesise a great Biblical argument that drug abuse is wrong – Paul talks about personal responsibility with alcohol, the body is described as a temple, and so on; a nice, neat, logical argument. Unfortunately, I distrust nice, neat, logical arguments when they relate to God. They don’t fit. Throughout the Bible, doing theology seems to be the messiest affair possible; and I’m pretty sure it’s intentional. The least obvious people were chosen for the biggest jobs; Israel was a tiny nation that was constantly kept small but had to fend off rich, advanced empires from all angles; they had to rely on God in very public, very obvious, very pragmatic ways to make their faith work, and as a result they played a pivotal role. They kept on messing it up, and God kept on finding ways to make it right; they had to be creative to survive, but to learn to rely on God as well.

Rather than trying to synthesise an argument against drug abuse, I’ll make a much less coherent argument that draws from lots of sources. Scripture says the body is a temple, but it also talks about Jesus feeding guests at a wedding wine that was probably laced with THC and opiates. Well, there goes a British cultural norm for drug acceptability! Paul talks about not getting drunk, and I know from the experience of myself and others, that being drunk can lead to doing stupid things. So, I conclude, unsurprisingly, that it’s not a good idea. Is it wrong to abuse drugs? I have no idea; I don’t think it’s a case of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ anywhere as much as we think it is. Is it a good idea? Does it fit with what I know of God? Definitely not.

Thinking about issues like this feels messy. And it feeling messy feels like it fits. Theology is messy!

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