Friday, October 17, 2008

Godpod 38

Today, on Godpod 38, Mike Lloyd, Jane Williams, Graham Tomlin and myself discussed a couple of fascinating questions: Why didn't Jesus write his own Gospel, and Does God open the lost letters of planet earth (e.g. does God answer Muslim prayers etc.)?

During the second half of the Godpod I was rather quiet, trying to find the passage in Amos, which I ended up finding too late to add to the discussion. I was looking for Amos 9:7:

"Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel? says the LORD. Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?"

My point was this: in no way denying that God acted on behalf of Israel, that God was in special relationship with this covenant people, God also acted in gracious redeeming activity on behalf of, so says Amos, the nations around Israel, indeed their enemies. In other words, while not contradicting the special claims of Israel, their relationship with God is, to use the term employed by Brueggemann, deabsolutised.

Applied to the question of whether God 'opens the lost letters of planet earth', this text would assert that God is indeed in relation with all people, ready to act graciously on their behalf. To say this, however, does not negate the specific and particular claims of Christain faith, but it does 'deabsolutise' them.



At 10/17/2008 1:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage." Is.19:25

"I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice." ~Jesus
John 10:16

At 10/17/2008 2:27 AM, Anonymous Bob MacDonald said...

And I empathize with your struggle to find a text and run out of time :)

At 10/17/2008 3:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't read Brueggeman on this, but does the polemical, prophetic nature of Amos militate against drawing theological implications of "deabsolutisation," Chris? Should the words perhaps be understood as the hyperbole of an angry God, a reminder of the absolutely groundless character of Israel's election outside of God's good pleasure?

I ask in earnest. It's a striking text. Much fecundity/potential in the line of thinking I describe above?

--faithful reader

At 10/17/2008 7:19 AM, Anonymous dan said...


It's good to see Brueggemann showing up more frequently on your blog these days. Reading anything in particular?

I've been a big fan of Brueggemann for the last four years, and I recently was able to chat a bit with him as he was at my school delivering a series of lectures. Amazingly, his speaking is even better than his writing.

At 10/18/2008 12:33 AM, Anonymous wiserblog said...

I like your use of Amos 9:7. Truly a prophet with an international agenda and perspective. I think God's dream of the future as written in Isaiah 19:19-25, goes to further this motif of God being in relation with all peoples.

I really enjoy your blog and look forward to continue reading it.

Many blessings,

At 10/21/2008 3:37 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Bob, with me it is just stupidity, with you it is just old age! (cheeky mode off)

Anon 1, thanks for those texts! Didn't think of them!

Anon 2
"does the polemical, prophetic nature of Amos militate against drawing theological implications of "deabsolutisation," Chris?"
A great question! I suppose one may legitimately ask which part of the bible is not polemical, and even whether it matters if they are polemical. After all, Galatians has been at the centre of Protestant soteriology for hundreds of years, but is Paul's most polemical letter. But perhaps it should be read as hyperbole - a question that needs to be asked with wider theological motifs in mind.

Hi Dan,
Actually, just going through his Theolgy of the OT. Great stuf, eh.

Marvin, thanks for your comment!


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