In a recent Gallup CliftonStrengths Assessment, my strengths in order of magnitude were:
Strategic | Activator | Self-Assurance | Responsibility | Futuristic
You can see the challenge I might have in circles where spiritual concepts such as humility and literal interpretation of scripture are expected, often even leveraged in order to support one's bias in faith matters.
As well, the concept of a fixed Canon is even more limiting, though we are told by professional clergy, at least among Protestants, that one should read the text with an open ear toward the Spirit.
Being strategic in my thoughts, with a bent toward activation, my "get 'er done" gear when coupled with a sense of responsibility toward the future can be a problem, let alone the fact that for 50 years, I have known the personal benefit of a devotion to the Book!
As Gallup describes me, "You have an entrepreneurial approach to your work, which drives you to confidently set out into uncharted territory rather than shying away from risks others may not be willing to take."
As well, the subset trait "Influencer" further compounds my concerns, for there is a huge possibility that I just may not be accurate in my thoughts!
Humility often calls my hand, as I attempt to balance my gut intuition with my heart's value, while doing sufficient risk management with my head.
However, I am not easily quieted, for all this has served me well professionally, and it fits the model of those whom the scriptures deem as prophets. I think you just picked up on my risk quotient, given that I dare use that last word! Just being transparent!
What if this centuries old Canon of scripture is just a snapshot of what Divinity has long been unpacking?
Perhaps the long term story was intentionally captured in Creation, with its ever expanding galaxies, though as well certainly seeded by way of "Words" throughout the Canon of scripture.
Meanwhile back down to earth, this being the only ball of life-supporting dirt to our knowledge within this small galaxy. Our tiny sphere now teaming with a human population that can hardly support itself, at least when a small minority hoard the majority of her assets.
Stay with me!
Her ecosystems with each new decade grow more taxed with each sprawling new development, along with the industrial wastes necessary to support her massive cities. Save for our long range possibilities of habitation of nearby planets, or worse yet famine or war, we face potential peril.
Our fundamentalist religious solution has always been to cry, "Maranatha" (Lord Come) Get us out of here!
But what if we have failed to see the big picture, blinded by the limited knowledge and biased desires of the best of men and women to whom God truly has spoken, but not with the intention of the closed loop that religion has now offered us.
Just work with me here, though you'll likely see that "strength becoming weakness" thing play out.
Oh! Here's an idea, for comfort's sake maybe we deem this post as fiction, perhaps then more easily digested theologically?
So let's pretend.
What if the God of Creation, a Being far superior to us, has plans that somehow are different than what we have long supposed, however we got here?
Whether by Moses' garden story or a Big Bang.
Let's say the latter, as science seems now to support. In the margins of thought that fiction allows, let's assume the Big Bang (perhaps the Voice of God) was followed by a providential and quite gracious period of evolution. Then at a certain point (think "missing link") God intervened once more with an intelligence factor not found in lesser species.
Let's call it, the impartation of Divinity, Imago Deo, an allowance that affords a dignity to and a maturation of our species such that later it could even merit being called, the Bride of Christ.
Now I'm getting ahead of myself, again!
Let's jump back into scripture, picking up the The Bologna Torah Scroll, the oldest known complete Torah scroll in the world. It was created between 1155 and 1225 CE and contains the entire text of the five Books of Moses in Hebrew.
In Moses' Genesis, we find a tribe of folk near ancient Mesopotamia, led by a risk-taker named Abram, which means "exalted father." He was a post-Babel descendant of Shem, son of Noah per Moses' best understanding.
This ancient patriarch, his name later expanded to "Abraham, father of a multitude" was willing to follow the Spirit in ways which his deceased father, Terah had perhaps seeded into him, long before his father's death at 205 years of age.
Almost immediately he is in conflict given a famine, as well as the beauty of with his then childless wife, Sara. The Pharoah of Egypt even notices her, though it works to Abram's benefit. He is soon known for wealth and with that one or more culturally accepted concubines.
You can see how Moses is crafting a foundational story in order to explain the origin of these thousands of people who have just walked behind as they acrossed the Red Sea on dry land. They were The Chosen! This is certainly a progressive story, though long from being fully unfolded!
Fast forward to David's day, when religion and nationalism had done quite a number on their decendents. They have long departed from the patriarchal rule that followed "a cloud by day and a fire by night." By then, having rather desired a King, as witnessed in countries they had apparently passed through.
As well, the original priesthood of leaders had matriculated deep into religion, with a rule book far thicker than Moses' original Ten Commandments, his minimal community policies, dietary limitations and procedures for handling life threatening medical issues.
As well, their mobile tabernacle and the Ark that carried reminders of their checkered history found its place in an elaborate and stationary sanctuary, known as Solomon's Temple.
Divinity however, had not lost her way but through this malaise of legalistic religion continued to leak the message of a coming Messiah, from the very lineage of King David.
This message has been found as far back as the third chapter of Moses' Genesis. It would be repeatedly captured throughout a cumulative text of some 39 books in the Old Testament (45-46 per the Catholic version).
Once born, this "Word" now become flesh in a man named, Jesus would starkly realign religion, moreso with Micah's earlier prophecy, in which he had boiled down the Lord's requirements to only three, seven less than from Moses' Ten. Simply, "do justice, love mercy and walk humbly."
Jesus would further nutshell any religious commandments to a bottom line, "love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself."
His life and teachings would be more fully captured in 27 additional books, primarily authored by only nine men, bringing the cumulative of both Old and New to 66 books and only 40 authors, over a period of 1500 years, though across several continents.
This Canon of scripture as we know it, captures a full progression from Abraham to Jesus, as well as the history and activities of the early apostles, later declared by the Nicene Council, after their political empowerment by emporer Constantine, as the guide for a universal institution known as The Church.
Things seemed rather fixed from then until now, though there have been moments of reformation, revival and even manifestation of gifts whom leaders often downplay with cessationist theology.
The impact based upon our world's condition seems a little less than what one would expect from a Being with the nature exhibited by The Christ. His own words from within that same Canon of scripture, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father...whose will it is that none should perish but have everlasting life!" Uhmmm!
I suspect there are things still yet to be unfolded!
John The Revelator, and his Gospel cohorts, to include the radically converted Pharisee, Paul speak of a day when Jesus will return, bringing a major shift in the way things are done upon this earth and as well as in a "New Heaven"; one that "creation now groans for!"
Just as the Old Testament prophets spoke of a shift in Judaism, with a new way of righteousness, apart from sacrifices and ceremonies, perhaps we sit in a moment of serious shift in Christianity as we know it.
Scores of next generation offspring, hungry for their "why" in life, laden with an access to far more knowledge than Moses, now struggle with religion as my parents and theirs once knew it.
I have no reason to doubt the validity of the scriptures, given such evidence of outside inspiration, and given that the OT prophets even offered the birthplace of this transformational "Messiah," a place called, Bethlehem!
In fact, the globe still celebrates that birth, and even this month.
You can't make this stuff up, but you can be misunderstood if you take the risk to process what you hear as you read the text and adapt to the context and culture of our present world.
However, transparency with my thoughts seems no more a violation of Spirit than with Moses and others, like minded men as we, as they faithfully wrote what they heard by the Spirit.
Yes, I also know the threat offered by the last words written by John the Revelator, thus my earlier notion of counting it all fiction.
Sadly, many within the upcoming generations now tend to count it all fiction in reality. However, my journey has been quite an experience, my "piece" of God, my journey with God, my observation of Creation, truly passes my understanding.
I am unwilling to sit silently passive until I pass! Perhaps my willingness to think out loud at some risk, might in fact help those who come behind me to dare inquiry of the Spirit themselves. That even seems a lot like Jesus!
Thus all my thoughts are prayerfully and most humbly submitted to others, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. II Timothy 3:16 KJV.