Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Towards a New Theology Part FIVE

So we're moving back from our 50 year old 
NEW AGE to a New Theology - 
it's not too late brother... 
Towards a New Theology   Part FIVE

Even the question of whether or not Mary was an actual virgin is irrelevant in the light of John’s Gospel.  The Greek words used here that we translate as ‘virgin’ are ‘andra ou ginosko’.  Again, outside the Bible, it has a slightly different meaning.  They are simply used to identify a female who has never been married.  It does not necessarily mean virgin.  The implication, and certainly the hope of any prospective suitor, was that she would be a virgin, but it did not mean she was.  Traditional Theology says that she had to be a virgin, whose son was without the seed of man, so that he could be pure, and so be our sacrifice.  However, in John’s gospel, we find that this is not necessarily the case.  John tells us that anyone who has the spirit of God given to them (God come upon them in power), is the actual flesh and blood child of God (John 1:12-13).  Effectively, he tells us that in receiving the Spirit of God, the seed of man is removed from us, and so we become pure.  That is what scripture means when we are told that we are ‘cleansed from all unrighteousness’ (2 Peter 1:9).  So the question of whether or not she was a literal virgin is irrelevant in the context of John’s gospel.  The Spirit of God came upon her, and so her child had the seed of man removed so that he was the literal flesh and blood child of God – as we all are under the new covenant.  You see, the people of that time saw a much greater connection between the physical and the spiritual realms.  They existed in the same time and space.  They weren’t separate realms as we see them today.  Therefore, it was possible for this to happen.

The next part of the narrative finds Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem.  Where to stay?  Considering the reason Joseph went to Bethlehem – there is no way he would stay in a Public House.  He was there to prove he belonged there – he was a resident.  He would have wanted to stay with family.  But there was no room in the inn.  This is where we find another one of those examples of differences between NT Greek and other ancient Greek documents.  The word used in scripture is ‘Kataluma’.  Any NT Greek lexicon would say it is an ‘Inn’, or a ‘public house’, or a ‘Guest Room’ at best.  However, other documents use this word in a different context.  It refers to the ‘inner area of the house’ or the upstairs living area of a family home.  Archaeology adds weight to the latter definition.  We find the architecture of homes in Bethlehem at the time had an upper living area and a lower area.  The lower area was where the animals lived during the winter months.  This provided shelter for the animals so they didn’t die of exposure, and their warmth would permeate upwards and warm the family living in the upper living area.  Other cultures around the world have been noted to have similar living structures.  Until only a few decades ago, tribes in Papua New Guinea had similar structures for similar reasons.  At the start of summer, the animals would be moved to the fields, and the downstairs area would have been thoroughly cleaned.  This had to happen so that disease would not fester in the muck and make the family ill, or make the animals ill next winter when they came in.  Also, given the obsession with cleanliness of the Jews at the time, it would have driven them mad if it wasn’t cleaned.  The clean, empty area downstairs would have then cooled the place in summer.

The narrative tells us that there was no room in the ‘inner area of the house’ (not a Public or Guest house), so they were offered the downstairs area.  A spacious, immaculately clean, cool in the heat of summer, quiet area.  The perfect place to give birth.  We could say this was a happy coincidence.  But spiritually, I see this as evidence that God was orchestrating events to make sure that Jesus was born in a place that gave him the best chance of survival in a world with a very high infant mortality rate.  Not even the temples that doubled as hospitals would have been as good a place to give birth as this lower area of the house where animals lived in the winter.



Part FIVE of SIX


Graeme Randall
Former SA officer
Australia East

Residing in London, UK






9 comments:

Bernard Martin said...

Hi Graeme,

Could you clarify what you mean by the phrase, 'seed of man' which you say is removed from us when we receive the Spirit of God?

And could you clarify your meaning of 'removed'?

Many thanks.

Bernard Martin
Former UKT

Sven Ljungholm said...

A 12 week module was recently introduced in Leeds offering students a course on how to lose faith in religion while learning to believe in a new atheism and humanism. Similar courses are popping up on college curri culum offerings from Oxford, to San Diego. “…both (new) atheism and non-religion are significant (and increasing) aspects of global socio-religious culture.

For example, one recent, conservative estimate suggests that there are between 500 and 750 million 'atheists, agnostics, and non-believers in God' worldwide.” Centre for
(Philosophical and Religious Studies - Department of Theology and Religious Studies - University of Leeds)*

If these statistics are true one can then deduce that there are:
· Fifty eight times as many atheists as there are Mormons

· Forty one times as many atheists as there are Sikhs

· Two times as many atheists as there are Buddhists.

· Seven hundred times as many atheist as Salvationists

Nonbelievers in God as a group come in fourth place after Christianity (2 billion), Islam (1.2 billion), and Hinduism (900 million) in terms of global ranking of commonly held belief systems. (Zuckerman 2007: 55)

Closer to home, the 2008 British Social Attitudes Survey reported that fully 43% of the population consider themselves as belonging to 'no religion' (a figure only 7% less than all the Christian categories combined). When asked if they believe in God, 18% replied that they did not, with a further 19% answering that they did not know if there was a God or not, and know no way of finding out. That so many people do not believe in God, and do not consider themselves to be religious, should surely be of interest to students of religion(s)—as too, therefore, should their reasons, motivations, other belief and attitudes, and demographic characteristics.

Recent research from the United States, moreover, suggests that atheists are the country's least trusted social grouping, and are subject to various forms of discrimination (Edgell et al. 2006; Cragun, forthcoming).

Anonymous said...

Some day I would love to preach truth not based on a belief in a particular story with no room for questioning. Unfortunately I would lose my job.

This is why I find it so hard to evangelize. I believe in a big God, much bigger than my theology allows; but to evangelize I somehow feel that I am required to believe in something much smaller and to promote that among a large number of people. My heart cannot conform.

Anonymous said...

Amen, amen anonymous..... how I can identify with your sentiments!

Pssst: I would lose my job and living too so we conform in order to continue to belong and live!!:):)

Having said that, within our organisational structures there is room for varying and differing interpretations/ understandings as our Handbook of Doctrine has been kept deliberately an 'open' book with very few definite statements that can only be interpreted one way only.

ACTIVE UKTI

Graeme Randall said...

Bernard Martin,

You ask a very in depth question.

Even back then, there was the understanding that we are born corrupt and sinful because of Adam's sin (not Eve). Hereditary traits in this sense come from man (as far as the Jewish people are concerned). Spirituality comes from the woman. Which is why if a Jewess marries a Gentile, her children can still be automatically considered Jews, but if a Jewish man marries a Gentile woman, his children have to be converted to Judaism.

The concept of hereditary traits etc., coming from the man is seen in the marriage regulations regarding offspring, and the various property laws regarding marriage and offspring.

A child born of a man, in 'the natural way', as a 'desire of man' as the NT puts it, is corrupt because that child is descended from man in the 'natural way'. However, a child born of God, is no longer born in the 'natural way', but is born 'un-naturally' as the NT puts it, and is no longer born of man.

How that defines 'Seed of Man' is somewhat open to discussion, however, the consensus for a long time was that it referred to the seaman which impregnated a woman, making her pregnant, and making her child 'born in the natural way', and descended naturally from man. It also established property rights and line of succession if needed.

The prelude to John's Gospel (Chapter 1), turns that idea on its' head somewhat, suggesting that when we the Spirit of God comes upon us, and we are 'Born again' as Christ puts it in the gospels, then we effectively have that seed of man removed, so we are no longer born in the natural way, and no longer born with the corruption of Adams sin, but we are born of God. Christ then makes reference to the property rights that have implication here. At that point, we are no longer heirs to man's property, instead, we become heirs to the kingdom of God, our Father's property - as God is now properly our Father.

When you think about it, this line of thought also makes the doctrine of full sanctification easier to swallow.

Hope this answers your question.

Graeme.

Anonymous said...

Hi Graeme,

I'm still having trouble swallowing the doctrine of "full sanctification".

As I look at Salvationists, even those who have made it to the "top" they don't seem to be any more holy than the garden variety of Christians, some even less.

How are your swallowing capacities?

Former
Canada and Bermuda

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