Revising Our Understanding   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year 2

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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O Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth;

enter not into judgment with thy servants, we beseech thee, but be pleased of thy great kindness to grant,

that we who are now righteously afflicted and bowed down by the sense of our sins,

may be refreshed and lifted up with the joy of thy salvation.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 152

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Isaiah 55:1-13

Psalm 39

Hebrews 10:1-14

John 11:47-57

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Second Isaiah has no ideal Davidic king of the future.  Instead, the prophecies of Second Isaiah feature an ideal Jewish people.  This makes sense, given the fall of the Davidic Dynasty in 587/586 B.C.E.   We have an ideal king (yet not as the crowds in the Gospel of John expected) in Hebrews 10:1-14 and John 11:47-57.  The Fourth Gospel depicts the crucifixion of Jesus as his exaltation and glorification.

To affirm verbally or in writing that God is faithful is easy.  To mean it may be more difficult, though.  Interpretations of prophecies change, even within the Bible.  First Isaiah (in Isaiah 11) points to an ideal Davidic king, but Second Isaiah (in Isaiah 55) does not, for example.  Events and the passage of time change perspectives and expectations.  Hindsight leads to revision of theology.  Of course it does.  How could it not?

A constantly germane issue in Christian faith is how to know to revise individual and collective understanding of scripture, reason, and tradition.  Constantly germane issues related to this matter include how and when to revise.  Faith is not set in stone.  Neither is doctrine.  For most of 2000 years, for example, much of the Church affirmed slavery.  Today, even most very conservative Christians reject slavery.  One would expect the liberals and moderates to reject slavery, of course.  Those very conservative, anti-slavery Christians of today are very liberal and even revolutionary by the standards of their predecessors as late as the middle 1800s.  For me, a student of history, 1860 may as well be last month.  And for me, a liberal, accepting changes in traditional theology is relatively easy.

God is faithful.  Human beings and religious institutions are frequently oblivious, however.  We may mean well, but good intentions pave the road to Hell.  May we keep revising our understandings until we get them right, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 7, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANÇOIS FÉNELON, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CAMBRAI

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALDRIC OF LE MANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA OF FOLIGNO, PENITENT AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GASPAR DEL BUFALO, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUCIAN OF ANTIOCH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 312

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Posted January 7, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Hebrews 10, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 55, John 11, Psalm 39

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