What you think the Bible is has a strong influence on what you think the Bible says
Week 9, Day 5
I Kings 19. 1-18
For my Day 5 post this week I am giving you part of a recent article by the Old Testament scholar Er. Peter Enns titled “The Bible Invites Us on a Quest". Your assignment for today (if you were looking for one, that is) is to read this article paying special attention to the 3 points he makes: that the the Bible is—“ambiguous, ancient and diverse”. Then read (again) from the text for this week—I Kings 18.20 through I Kings 19.18 looking not for the facts contained in the story, but for the wisdom that can be gleaned from it. Ask this, for instance: How might this story inform the way I relate to neighbors whose culture or religion or politics are different from mine?
The Bible text for this week can be found below. The entire article by Dr. Enns can be found online here: https://peteenns.com/bible-invites-us-quest-quick-preview-next-book/
Here is the excerpt:
“As I see it, rather than a book designed primarily to provide answers, the Bible is a book designed to cultivate Wisdom—which is a lifelong process of maturing us into disciples who wander well along the unscripted path of faith, in-tuned to the presence of God along the way.
Expecting the Bible to be an answer book distorts the Bible’s purpose. And I say this because of how the Bible presents itself (so to speak)—which for the time being (I’m in the very early stages of writing the book) I express under 3 headings:
1.The Bible is ambiguous. The Bible is really not all that clear about what we should actually do and think. When it comes to the details of our lives, we need to work it out, which is a Wisdom task.
2. The Bible is ancient. We cannot simply, as a reflex, “follow the Bible,” because so much of it is so deeply embedded in a world we do not recognize or understand. It takes creative imagination to bring the ancient and modern horizons together.
3. The Bible is diverse. The Bible does not speak with one voice on most subjects. The various biblical writers lived at different times, in different places, and under different circumstances. The Bible’s diverse views of many matters reflect those realities, and we do a disservice the Bible and faith when we focus on neutralizing those differences.
These three things are not problems to be overcome; they tell us something of the character of the Bible.
And if we take the character of Scripture seriously, we will find our expectations challenged and instead come to see that the Bible presents us with an “invitation we can’t refuse”—to join an ancient and sacred quest to follow the path of Wisdom, with no accompanying check list of timeless and predictable solutions, no safety net of pre-scripted responses, and no fear of God bringing down the hammer on us for accepting this challenge.”
I Kings 18.20-19.18
20 So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ The people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, ‘I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred and fifty. 23 Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.’ All the people answered, ‘Well spoken!’ 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.’
26 So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, ‘O Baal, answer us!’ But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. 27 At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, ‘Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.’ 28 Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. 29 As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come closer to me’; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name’; 32 with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he m