The Kinds of People the 21st Century Needs (4)

This week:

The Turning to the Scriptures – Part 2

The four turnings are these:

  1. A turning to Jesus Christ as Lord
  2. A turning to some form of Christ following community
  3. A turning to the Scriptures – Part 1
  4. A turning back to the world on mission

We been talking about the 4 Turnings of the human heart that lead to the kinds of people Jesus needs in the 21st century. The third of the turnings is the essential turn to the scriptures. (Remember, these turnings can happen in any order).

Contexts and Trajectories for Faith

In my last post in this series, I wrote that the scriptures give us both context and trajectories for faith. I touched on how the scriptures provide historical context for faith. Today I want to touch on how the scriptures give us trajectories for our faith.

The canon, as I mentioned in the last post, is not revelation. Neither the canon nor the Bible are authoritative in and of themselves. But the collection of documents that have been passed on to us as the Bible do provide trajectories for a more human future.

When I speak of trajectories for the future I don’t mean a “Left Behind” kind of map to what will happen in the future. I mean a description of the human world we are called to create.

The Christ following community is too focused on origins and sources. We should broaden our horizons to include future vistas too. The scriptures are at least as interested — if not more so — in where humanity is going as they are in where humanity came from.

If the scriptures are authoritative, it isn’t because the apostles wrote a particular gospel. They will be authoritative because they move the world towards humanity. Or not.

The Old Testament and the New Testament are the primary documents for two ancient communities. Both of these communities were formed by singular events. The community of ancient Israel was formed in the Exodus from Egypt. The Christ following community was formed when Jesus was raised from the dead.

Both events have dense back stories leading up to them and long tails of world changing history trailing after them.

Of course, if Jesus is raised from the dead, the world is changed, history reversed, and the pyramid has been placed on its head. But also, Jesus’ life and teaching “resets” the trajectory of history that began with Abram.

A Human Future

I see several trajectories in scripture that require a constant human realignment. [I write more on this in “Making the Word Human Again: Jesus’ quest to save the future from religion” which will be released in October of this year].

Let’s talk about ONE of these trajectories. When God calls Abram he describes a world in which all the peoples of the earth are blessed (Genesis 12). In a world of petty deities that blessed only those who appeased them, God extends a blessing to the world through Abram.

The trajectory set by Abraham’s call project the end of genocide, slavery and exclusion. The world described in Abram’s call was one quite unlike their world. Their world was filled with killing and domination.

The world described in Abraham’s call is one quite unlike our own too. Ours is a violent world in which people are too often reduced to mere objects. What we are asked to see in Abraham’s call is a potential human future. This is an incredibly bold and imaginative step in a world filled with prejudice, racism, hatred, etc.

Jesus lives out this world in his relationship with sinners, Samaritans and women. The early Christ following communities lived out this “human world” as they crossed the thresh holds of their Gentile neighbors.

When Jesus sends his followers to the nations, he was not inventing something new. He was “resetting” what had begun in Abraham. God was making the world human again and this trajectory of inclusion is absolutely necessary to create the human future promised to Abraham.

If there is a God who works in and through humanity, He is pushing us, history and the world towards a future in which all peoples are blessed. If you tend towards wishing for that kind of world, then you are approaching the way of Jesus as described in the scriptures.

This turning to the scriptures does not mean leaving our reason behind and embracing the Bible blindly. The turning to the scripture means embracing with passion and working towards the human future it points to regardless of how unreasonable it may be to hope that we and the world we live in could ever truly become human again.

What do you think?

If you like these thoughts, keep an eye out for the new book, MAKING THE WORLD HUMAN AGAIN: Jesus’ Quest to Save the Future from Religion by Alex McManus to be released in October of 2009.


4 responses to “The Kinds of People the 21st Century Needs (4)”

  1. geoffreybaines Avatar

    Alex, when you shared this a couple of weeks ago lights went on for me – enlightenment! It’s as if I’d been trying to understand what God is about in human history by torchlight and now the floodlights have been switched on. Though daylight is not upon us yet thanks for shining more light on what God longs for us to join him in.

    I hope you have a chance to share your thoughts on how misaligned humanity closes blessing down whilst God opens it up.

  2. Alex Avatar

    Geoffrey, I’m so glad that was helpful. I hope to expand on that theme in the days to come.

  3. […] » The Kinds of People the 21st Century Needs (4) into the mystic […]

  4. […] No, No, and Yes. (For some of my ideas about these things see my prior articles: Scripture Part 1, Scripture Part 2, Bibliolatry). But today, I’m playfully questioning the language that we choose when we speak […]

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