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A Progressive Revelation

Yesterday I was speaking with an old friend and coworker who complimented me as being a two percent-er, a visionary leader.

I was flattered.

His statistically based compliment was likely extracted from the commonly used Pareto Principle. Per his thoughts as a respected clergy consultant, only two percent of the "called-out" have sufficient "get-it" factor; with 18% remaining that can then be taught. The rest, 80% simply follow. I first found that a grim prognosis in light of grace!

Who knows, sounds science based, so maybe that's the way we humans truly are! If so, what's with this "made in the image of God" thing in Genesis? Glad you asked, as that answer seemed to begin unfolding this morning as I listened to my pastor's journey through quite the distance of texts, drawn from Moses' writings, all the way to Paul's letter to the Romans.

Moses surely would make that twentieth percentile, if not the top two, though he did try in his burning bush moment, to talk the I Am out of the idea that he might be the one chosen to confront Pharoah, given his tendency to stutter!

He later not only found himself, with Aaron's help and a his handy rod, sufficient for convincing Pharoah, but as well, gallantly led those released across the Red Sea on dry land!

Where am I going with this you ask?

After years of studying the big picture captured across centuries of God-Breathed text, I sense the Spirit backing me into a different twist on Moses' Genesis and this man called, Adam.

My pastor as always, walks his congregation into a grand "aHa! Moment" around grace, the Good News, which they all come weekly raring to hear. It's amazing, as he always delivers!

Meanwhile, sometimes I find myself drifting into tangential conversations with the Spirit. Some seem providential, as they so often align with personal prayers and conversations from the week before.

Being already convinced of grace, far moreso than the average evangelical, I try to extract from his sermons the bits and peices specific to my own journey, moreso than where he may be taking the congregation as a whole.

I know, I am hard to pastor! Sorry, Alan!

During this morning, I was still hanging on some thoughts I had while walking my Alpha Gen grandson through the NY Historical Museum a couple weeks ago. Listening to his and others his age ask questions of our guide. Given the growing base of knowledge and access to that knowledge at a much earlier age, I'm thinking that it will require some serious redesign in our presentation of the scriptures, if we are to bridge the gulf between the relatively fixed texts of scripture as we present them, and the progressive nature of science. Surely, God knew this was coming?

I cannot grasp the next generation buying into the faith as I was taught, though the hunger for meaning is evidently growing daily. Suicide and mental health issues are way up!!

As well, my friend who works with churches explained, the majority of evangelical churches are also in transistion, some by choice, others by default.

I began to consider this "image of God" thing, given that we seem less and less able to meet that standard. Maybe that's where the concept of the forbidden fruit was necessary for Moses' sake, more perhaps for his sake and lack of capacity to grasp what this God of love was really up to, given this rebellious people that he was leading?

The first couple, Adam and Eve from the dust of the earth; seduced into eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, though created in the image of God. It all began to make sense.

The First Adam made from dust, while the Second Adam from the Heavens, thus in the long run this first man was only a receptacle, made in the same means as you and I, the second then inhabiting my dust-like frame, One so in contrast with the true Imago Deo, both in character and love!

Can you imagine explaining that to one man, verses tge use of a progressive revelation over time, filtered through a heart of mercy. The latter sounds more like God, than the wrathful One written of by Moses and others.

The challenge would be the First Adam trying to grasp that revelation, with a tendency to fabricate a fixed religion around it, so as to control its outcome.

I grt that!

So God allowed that choice, yet all along leaked a message of One who's heels the serpent would strike, but who would then crush the serpent's head!

Could God have been saying something to Moses that not even he grasped? Man was crafted from matter so that the God-man, Christ could soon inhabitant his being for the sake contrast between man's religion and God's mercy.

Yet Moses assumes, he "heard" that the first Adam was perfect, made in the image of God, therefore must have fallen, thus the Eve (poor woman) and apple story; overly simplified for the reader's sake... maybe God knew to do that also for Moses?

Remember Moses was writing Genesis likely after the Red Sea, when the eighty percent were bucking his leadership. Was Genesis therefore a rationalization in retrospect, given Moses frustration with people's actions, yet God inspired so as to cast a foundation for a time when a second Adam, a true image bearer would come.

One who had not eaten of the forbidden fruit that seemed to have afflicted this rebellious crowd. Instead of eating from a tree, he would die on a tree, to satisfy the sacrifice these former idol worshipers crafted into their religion so as to demand their own justification...its called Judaism.

God meanwhile fulfilled not His religious demands, but their own!

Barbara Symons (see reference below) posits that "The events recorded in the Bible are actually glimpses into ourselves, revealing our journey and our evolutionary processes

in consciousness."

As mentioned in an earlier post, scripture was unlikely a direct download though Paul's letter to Timothy states that "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." II Timothy 3: 16-17 NLT.

"Healthy religion gives us a foundational sense of awe. It re-enchants an otherwise empty universe. It gives people a universal reverence toward all things. Only with such reverence do we find confidence and coherence. Only then does the world become a safe home. Then we can see the reflection of the divine image in the human, in the animal, in the entire natural world—which has now become inherently “supernatural.” (Richard Rohr in The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2001, 2020), 65.)

Rohr's words took me back to what I firmly believe, that Christ, the I Am was first manifest in Creation, then manifest in the physical body of Jesus. The God-Man who though in our image, reflected the True Image in such contrast that theologians concluded that the Law, as in Moses' day was an Old Covenant and the Grace that the Gospels proclaimed and Paul later debated in his own courtroom-like language defended as a New Covenant.

Same God, but progressive in moving us forward in the Truth.

Paul was building a case to transistion from the Law unto grace, pulling from the garden, he defends the need for justification of the First Adam by the Second, thus appeasing the assumed wrath of God against all sinners, as "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Roman 3:23.

Paul's objective was transistion not condemnation! Yet we like the Judaizers of Paul's day, use the letter of the Law to drive a fear based gospel, though intended for the opposite.

The prophets themselves struggled with what they were hearing from this God frustrated by sacrifices, ceremonies with every "new moon". To me, what God could "breath" into Moses and others was limited by our capacity to understand, just as my recent Museum visit challenged my thoughts toward a more progressive understanding of Creation given recent discoveries of both the James Webb Telescope and archeological remains.

All seems now supportive of a Big Bang of sorts and suggesting a more evolutionary development at least of lower species, over the Eden story of Moses' Genesis. I had to think just how all this might further progress "should Jesus tarry."

The link mentioned below offers that, "This process itself took several billion years of "cooking time" before supernovae explosions eventually dispersed them throughout space. Some of these elements eventually began to assemble into planetary bodies like the earth. Chemicals and compounds that had been fashioned in the crucible of some remote burnt-out stars came together five billion years ago and formed our own planet. Then after another billion years or so, the earth’s surface having cooled sufficiently, primitive forms of life began to appear. Biological evolution had begun, but like other cosmic episodes it was not in a hurry. It was patient, experimental, random, and extravagantly "wasteful." After tossing up and discarding millions of primitive species, it finally gave rise to elaborate arrays of more and more complex organisms, to plants, reptiles, birds, and mammals, most of which are now extinct. And then, perhaps two million years ago, our immediate pre-human ancestors came onto the scene, probably in what we now know as East Africa. Finally, several hundred thousand years ago, our direct human ancestors appeared and began to spread out over the face of the earth."

(Please open the link below for a deeper read).

Barbara Symons, mentioned above in her book, "Escaping Christianity, Finding Christ" offers further perspective, one now close to my own:

"I no longer call myself a Christian, but I am a follower and a believer in the teachings of Jesus. I also recognize that the term Christianity is a brand defined by limited consciousness within religious antiquity, which now at best only represents a shadow of

the message of Jesus Christ. Generally speaking, today’s Christianity might be a parallel comparison to the Judaic religious system that Jesus opposed. During that time it is recorded that Jesus was continually hard on the pious for their rigid adherence to a system

that was being dragged past its season of relevance, and for their reticence to let go of it."

What if we viewed the scriptures as progressive, perhaps as much so as Creation Science seems now also, yet limited by our capacity. However in God's mercy a universal awareness was being fed by the Spirit's constant leaking of revelation, until the Christ, the Second Adam, the perfect Image became flesh like us, not to appease God's wrath as suspected by Moses descendents, but to alleviate the guilt created by our lack of understanding due to religion's long reign.

Now, by grace we become the Bride of Christ, the redeemed Eve of Eden, though still yet Creation groans as she awaits a New Heaven and a New Earth, one beyond our present imagination, though John the Revelator gave it his best shot!

Think about it.

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