I'm writing from St. Paul, MN, where Tim Erdel and I are at the ETS/EPS Midwest Regional Meeting, being held at Bethel Seminary this year. This morning I presented a paper critiquing Wayne Grudem's logic in his book, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? Good responses as far as I could tell.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Posted by D.C. Cramer at 12:25 AM
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Vignette 2: Male and Female (Gen. 2:4 – 25)
Our story changes lenses and is retold with a close-up on the pinnacle of creation, human beings. Instead of framing the creation story in terms of a six day creation, as it was told in Genesis 1, now our author paints a more intimate picture of YHWH’s crafting of adam or human out of the adamah or dust of the earth. YHWH gently shapes adam and then breathes life into him. YHWH puts adam into a pristine garden, Eden, where he gives adam the responsibility for working and taking care of the garden and all of the life within it. YHWH gives adam free reign in the garden with only the following stipulation: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
YHWH gives adam the task of naming the animals, perhaps a chance for adam to try out the creative freedom that YHWH has breathed into him. However, YHWH finds it no good for adam to be alone, so he decides to create someone to help share adam’s responsibilities. YHWH puts adam into a deep sleep, takes one of adam’s ribs, and forms a woman from the rib, just as he had formed adam from the dust.
When adam comes to and lays his eyes on YHWH’s handiwork, he is so overjoyed that he breaks into song:
"Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh!
She shall be called ‘issah—woman,
For she was taken out of ‘ish—man!"
Our author states that because woman and man are made of the same flesh, man and wife will leave their parents and be united together as one flesh. In fact, the author tells us that in the garden the husband and wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. We are left with a perfect picture of the oneness between God, man, and woman—just the way God intended it to be.
(1) The story of Genesis 2 has been used over the centuries to establish a number of claims regarding the relationship of man and woman. What do you think this story says about the male/female relationship? (Cf. “help” in Psalm 121:1-2.)
(2) In this story as well as the last one, human beings have been given the responsibility to look after and care for creation. How do you understand this responsibility? In what ways have Christians met or failed to meet this responsibility?
(3) What is the significance of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in this story? What about the fact that man and woman feel no shame at this point?
Posted by D.C. Cramer at 6:15 PM
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
In my Exploring the Christian Faith course at Bethel College, we are working through the story of Scripture. In preparation, I've written a 30 part retelling of the scriptural narrative that I've entitled, "Living Faithfully in a Broken World." I'll post my vignettes as the semester progresses. Feel free to comment on the questions below.
Vignette 1: In the Beginning (Gen. 1:1 – 2:3)
Before beginning our narrative, we have to be clear on what our narrative is and is not about. Our narrative is about God’s creation and redemption of a people. It is not about twenty-first century cosmology. This little reminder is especially important at the beginning of our narrative—the Genesis account of creation. Perhaps no biblical passage has been debated over the years quite as much as Genesis 1. According to our story, however, these debates entirely miss the point. Was the world created in a matter of a week? Or did God’s act of creation span billions of years? Such questions were not on the mind of the author as he began our story, so they need not detain us as readers of the story. Rather, our story is about a God who doesn’t need to fight and tame the cosmos as the other Ancient Near Eastern gods supposedly did. The God of the Hebrews, YHWH or Elohim, simply speaks and the world comes into existence. Our author counters the myths of the Ancient Near East with the anti-myth of the creation story. You might even say that the author demythologizes the creation account. So, rather than God warring the sea, the Spirit hovers over the waters.
In the first three days of creation, God brings order—separating light from darkness, water from sky, and water from land. In the next three days, God fills his creation: to the light and darkness of day one, God gives the sun, moon, and stars on day four; to the water and sky of day two, God gives sea creatures and birds on day five; and to the land of day three, God gives land animals on day six—all culminating in his creation of human beings.
In creating human beings, God states, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Our author recounts that man and woman were created in God’s own image, the imago Dei. In other words, in creating human beings, God was making miniature eikons of himself—little representations of God in human form. And as God has loving care over all of his creation, so too he passes on that responsibility to human beings.
On each day God has declared his creation tov—good. But on day six God declares his creation tov me’od—very good. His creation is so good that on day seven God decides to take a rest, thus establishing our pattern of work and Sabbath rest.
(1) According to Christian tradition and theology, God created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing). What is the significance of this doctrine in light of the biblical story?
(2) According to the biblical story, human beings are created in the imago Dei or the image of God. We are God’s eikons. What do you think it means to be an eikon of God—to be created in the imago Dei? What significance does this have for our understanding of ourselves and other human beings?
(3) What is the significance of the seventh day of creation? How have you understood the notion of “Sabbath” from within your faith background?
Posted by D.C. Cramer at 2:33 PM