Tuesday, November 27, 2007

understanding ezra

Here is the essential conflict in discussion of how to understand Ezra correctly: It's one how to interpret scripture wisely and responsibly. Some would posit that the Quran is the Muslim "Bible"; that may be, but I would argue that we err in viewing the Bible as a Christian Quran, dictated in all its wordsby God himself.

The view of Scripture I'm coming to is one where I understand the Bible as a collection of writings of people who were feeling their way in the dark toward God. Thus we see echoed in Scripture the same struggles that we deal with ourselves as a society and a church, viz. how much to assimilate and how much to retreat from "foreign" ways. That Ezra acted in the way he did, even though the book affirms his actions, does not mean that his position is solidly rooted in God as much as it is solidily rooted in his understanding of God within his socio-cultural context.

I think the man was a misogynist and a racist, whatever virtues may rightly be attributed to him, and so I object to his action. Questioning the rightness of his action, even as I understand the reasons for doing so, leads me to a deeper inquiry into my understanding of God and the ways my experiences and culture act as a filter; it also leads me into a deeper exploration of Scripture itself.

Others have views different from mine. But it leads them on a parallel odyssey of the spirit, as they see the contrasting voices in Scripture and meditate on the same issues and conflicts, and move toward a deeper understanding of God. On the way, we run into each other, disagree (sometimes sharply) and hopefully learn from one another. I see this as a good thing, though stubborn know-it-all that I am, I probably don't come across that way.

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