RECLAIMING EDEN


(a continuation and extension of)
(RECLAIMING EXODUS)

The story of the Garden of Eden is an Exodus story. It is the first Exodus story and the story that arches over and encompasses and undergirds the rest of the Bible. Like any Exodus story, it is a story of God providing deliverance from bondage and the ensuing roundabout journey into the freedom of the wilderness where we have a continuous opportunity to discover God and to experience God and to learn how to be in relationship with God and through that relationship be resurrected and transformed into the here-and-now Kingdom of God.

God created this chaotic universe because God wanted free-willed life. Without the power to say “no”, there is no free-will. Within the confines of the Garden of Eden story; if Adam and Eve do not defy God, if they do not say “no” to the limitations imposed by God, they will not have free-will and the Garden of Eden will not be a utopia, it will become a zoo, a gilded cage – a life without freedom, a life without hope, a life without a future – a place of bondage. Instead, by defying God, the Garden of Eden becomes an incubator and a proving ground. Being driven from the Garden of Eden into a stark wilderness is not a punishment, it is an Exodus. Like any Exodus, it is a roundabout journey away from bondage (and a place to which God never wants us to return) into the freedom of the wilderness where Adam and Eve and all the people of the Bible and all of us are to discover God and learn how to be in relationship with God and, ultimately, how to be – here and now – a community of love and grace, of equality and inclusion, of healing and justice as restoration – how to be the Kingdom of God. The story of the Garden of Eden is not a story of failure, it is a story of success for God and us; it is not a story of condemnation, it is a story of affirmation. Free-will would be meaningless if God did not expect to be surprised by us.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Doug is a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 4950 East Wabash Avenue, P.O. Box 3125, Terre Haute, IN 47803-0125 (812-877-9959). Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is an open and affirming congregation where Doug has served as Elder and Treasurer and enjoys his continuing membership in the choir as the lowest voiced bass. For 2011-2012, Doug is an at-large member of the Indiana Disciples of Christ Regional Board. He graduated in 2009 with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana State University and a BS in Management Information Systems from Ball State University in 1997. Since August 2005, he has been a member of the CIS Adjunct Faculty at the Terre Haute campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He has been published in DisciplesWorld and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. In the summer of 2010, Doug became a contributor to [D]mergent. Of the 11 articles he has written, 5 are in the top 10 all-time most-viewed articles at [D]mergent. Doug is married to Carol, a First Grade teacher, and is the father of two sons. Jason is a professional musician (oboe, flute, English horn, and piccolo) who is working on a Master’s degree and licensure in Special Education.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The previous [D]mergent articles by Doug Sloan
are listed here in order of publication:

……….RECLAIMING CHURCH
……….GOD IS…
……….RECLAIMING GOD
……….RECLAIMING MIRACLES
……….RECLAIMING NOT
……….RECLAIMING the GOOD NEWS – an epistle
……….RECLAIMING FORGIVENESS – it’s personal
……….REFORMATION II
……….GOD IS – an update
……….RECLAIMING SCRIPTURE
……….RECLAIMING EXODUS

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Doug Sloan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Doug Sloan

Doug is a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 4950 East Wabash Avenue, P.O. Box 3125, Terre Haute, IN 47803-0125 (812-877-9959). Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is an open and affirming congregation. Doug is an Elder, has served as Treasurer, enjoys his continuing membership in the choir as the lowest voiced bass and currently is serving as an At-Large member of the Regional Board of the Indiana Disciples of Christ. As a member of the O&A Elders group, he helped write a resolution to change the ordination policy of the Indiana Region. The resolution will be presented at the 2012 Indiana Regional Assembly. He graduated in 2009 with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana State University and a BS in Management Information Systems from Ball State University in 1997. Since August 2005, he has been a member of the CIS Adjunct Faculty at the Terre Haute campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He has been published in DisciplesWorld and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. In the summer of 2010, Doug became a contributor to this blog: [D]mergent.org

16 thoughts on “RECLAIMING EDEN

  1. Free-will would be be meaningless if God did not expect to be surprised by us. God can be surprised by us only if God is as ignorant of the future as are we. This is possible because the future does not exist. If God is ignorant of the future, then – at the moment of creation – God did not know what would happen with this creation. God only knew that this richly chaotic creation was designed to foster the emergence of sentient life which would have the ability to discern multiple dimensions and to perceive God and to yearn for a way to be in relationship with God.

    • You’re talking about what I AM knows or would know or knew. I have a problem with your reducing I AM in this way.

      I have a problem with your reducing I AM to present past and future. These are dimensions created for us by I AM. Jesus lived in our dimensions.

      I don’t see that anything in Bible indicates that I AM is to be limited to our dimensions.

      I think you’re engaging in out-dated and unbiblical scholasticism. I think you
      should talk to a trained theologian about your writings here.

      The happy bravado of your writing here smacks more of the inspirational management consultant than of a believer and reliable propagator of the good news.

      blessings, Catherine

      • <>

        Why would you assume that God would be ignorant of the future just because the future doesn’t exist. I know about the world of Narnia and it doesn’t exist.

        I wish CS Lewis were alive; he’d have a lot of fun with both of us

        lol,

        blessings Cathy

  2. Pingback: RECLAIMING FAMILY | [D]mergent

  3. Dear Catherine,

    Thank you for your response.

    It would be helpful if you would offer analysis with your criticism and then provide an alternative interpretation.

    For scholarly studies and to discover the importance of Exodus and Exile to the biblical narratives, I would suggest:

    “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time”
    Marcus J. Borg

    “The Bible Now”
    Richard Elliott Friedman & Shawna Dolansky

    “Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power – AND HOW THEY CAN BE RESTORED”
    Marcus J. Borg

    Peace,
    Doug Sloan

    • Thank you Doug.

      The consequence of my criticism is that your argument is fallacious and irrelevant. No other interpretation of a silly argument is necessary. The books you quote, written for the laity, are excellent in their own way.

    • Your piece on free will offers no scholarship and poor reasoning. My analysis offers sound reasoning (not a reasoning backwards from a non-biblical concept like “surprise”) and a sound interpretation of I AM.
      A criticism, even a biting one, is not an attack. We Christians could take a lesson from the principles and practices of Jewish scholars: they believe that scripture will stand the test of tough debate.
      Peace,

      Catherine

  4. “The ancient communities that produced the Bible often metaphorized their history. Indeed, this is the way they invested their stories with meaning. … When one literalizes metaphor or myth, the result is nonsense. On the other hand, when one recognizes a metaphorical narrative as such, the result is a powerful story.” (pp. 47-48)

    “The creation stories were written relatively late. Israel as a people came into existence with the exodus from Egypt in the thirteenth century BCE. At the earliest, Israel told a story of creation some three hundred years later. The story of the exodus, the covenant, and the gift of the promised land is Israel’s primal narrative and foundational story. In short, Israel told the story of the exodus and God’s creation of her as a people long before she told the story of God’s creation of the world.” (pp. 62-63)

    “The language of the storyteller is evocative, not precise. It does not clearly point to a particualr reading. Thus, over the centuries, a variety of understandings…have emerged.” (p. 78)

    “It is impossible to say that the Hebrew storyteller intended one of these more than the other, or intended any or all of these. But the creation stories are an example par excellence of a religious classic: they are stories that have a surplus of meanings.” (p. 80)

    Reading the Bible Again for the First Time
    Marcus Borg

    • Within your over all argument that creation is a success story, you’ve theorized that God intended and wanted to be surprised by us and therefore inferred that IAM created free will so that he could be surprised. You’ve cited Borg in support of your argument about the nature of God and the connection between that nature, intending and wanting to be surprised, and free will. I’m taking issue with the way you are theorizing about the nature of God. I’m also taking issue with your statement that Borg supports your view of God. How do you reconcile with your argument, Marcus Borg’s disavowal of the kind of personal God who intends or wants to be surprised by man? Take a look at his 2010 piece on Mystical Christianity at
      http://www.marcusjborg.com/2010/07/01/mystical-experiences-of-god/
      Borg is prevaricating here – referring to a “reality who” but then stating that he’s not a “person-like being”. He’s just a “radiance” that pervades what is. We know what a person is. We can extrapolate a creator or a creating function of a higher being. What is a radiance? Is it a material energy field and only that? Is God a part of our material reality? How can it be posited that a ” radiance” wants to be surprised?

      BORG: “The effect was to transform my understanding of the word “God.” I began to understand that the word does not refer to a person-like being “out there,” beyond the universe – an understanding of “God” that ceased to be persuasive in my teens and twenties.
      I began to understand that the word “God” refers to “what is” experienced as wondrous and compelling, as, to use William James’ phrase, “the more” which is all around us. Or to use a phrase from the New Testament, the word “God” refers to “the one in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17.28). “God” is not a hypothesis, but a reality who can be known.
      Thus, to argue about whether God exists seems to me to be based on a misunderstanding of what the word points to. If “God” means a person-like being “out there,” completely separate from the universe, then I am an atheist. I do not believe there is such a being. But if the word “God” points to a radiance that pervades “what is,” as I now think – then, of course, God is real. Not just the God of Christianity, but the God of all the enduring religions.”

  5. Pingback: RECLAIMING CHURCH – REDUX | [D]mergent

  6. Pingback: RECLAIMING EASTER | [D]mergent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s