Monday, April 11, 2011
The Biblical and/or Modern Mindset
Two images set contemporary individuals apart from those who gone before – or perhaps have stayed where all were. One is the photograph of “the little blue marble” taken from the Moon Lander on its way home. It was a perspective impossible to have prior to that, and impossible to ignore after that. We float in endless space. The other image emerged about seventeen years ago from a swampy area in Ethiopia. What was being photographed would be named “Lucy,” a female with distinctive human physical characteristics, now believed to be three million plus years old: and we have been finding older human resemblances since then.
The mythological truth of the Adam and Eve story seems confirmable in every 24 hour news cycle, but primarily as an enlarging perspective on life. It leaves us with a quandary, but not necessarily a new one.
We ask, “Where does that leave us as we consider the person of Jesus? The question is not new - not sidestepped, much less evaded - by the writer of the Gospel of John. The symbols he adapted have stood two thousand years of critical thinking remarkable well: Word and Wisdom come quickly to mind.
The inevitable next question is, “How would Paul respond to these photographic images and the mindset shoved at us?” We cannot know, but there is no need to evade a guess. He would love to discuss them. He was a superbly educated, thoughtful man with a probing mind. How he would come down precisely on the issue, who knows; but that he would be on a tv discussion panel about it is no guess.
The New Testament figure of most interest in this regard is Luke, the Greek physician. He was attracted to Paul and joined his little missionary band just as they were about to cross from Asia into Greece. He was a man standing close to the beginnings of the modern scientific tradition. The history of the Church as we mainly know it began when Luke shifted in Acts to that word, “we.”
We now cross from two thousand years of “Christian,” into a new thousand years. My hunch is that the mindset of Dr. Luke is likely to be of more significance than any of the original twelve of whom we have heard so much.