Monday, June 22, 2015

Benjamin L. Corey - Very Right and Very Wrong

Where Benjamin Corey is very right is on his rejection of his former Zionism.

Formerly Fundie : Standing With Israel: how bad theology duped us into supporting terrorism and oppression
August 16, 2013 by Benjamin L. Corey

Now, actually bad theology of a somewhat different slant did that earlier. The new governments of Cuba up to Batista, as well as those after that, namely Castro, were easily worse for Cubans than the Spanish Colonial one that US fought in the ending years of the 19th C. Woodrow Wilson overdid the Austrian guilt for WW-I (especially ludicrous after Charles the Last's proposal for Separate Peace, after Francis Joseph and his griefstricken vendetta were buried in the Franciscan Crypt) and it is pretty easy to see how the Czech National Socialist Party was in some ways (not all) as bad as the German one and a lot worse than Habsburg rule. And ask a Yaqui if it was such a very good idea of US to support Benito Juarez when he overthrew Emperor Maximilian.

But, this does not mean US has no fresher bad foreign policy, like the one mentioned by BLC:

Why “Stand with Israel” theology is literally destructive

1.By saying that you “Stand with Israel” you are, by definition, saying that you “stand against” the Palestinian people. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, not to stand against them.

2. By supporting Israel as she has continually taken land away from the Palestinian people, we have contributed to a massive crisis of refugees without a home. This has led us to stand with the oppressor, not the oppressed, as scripture commands us.

3. By supporting settlement expansions in Israel, we are supporting the Israelis breaking the law. We cannot say that undocumented immigrants in our country need to “respect the law” while supporting Israel’s daily refusal to obey international laws. That is ridiculously hypocritical.

4. This theology requires you to reject the role of “peacemaker” as Christ commanded. Almost every time the US has attempted to broker a peace deal in the middle east, I’ve seen the pro-Israel folks take to the internet to condemn western leaders for making any compromises or dividing any land. I’ve heard preachers say that to obey the Bible (citing Joel) means that we are forbidden from sharing the land with outsiders. In fact, many churches in America actually donate money to help fund these illegal and oppressive settlements. These attitudes do not reflect the love of Jesus, the role of peacemaker, and are not “Christian” attitudes.

5. This theology requires us to oppress other Christians. There are more Christians living in Palestine than in Israel, and when we support violence and oppression against the Palestinians, we are supporting the oppression of our own brothers and sisters.

He lists four more reasons.

"My own take" (but I hope it is first of all the right one and thus not originally mine) is this:

Abraham's Seed is Jesus Christ, Jesus from Nazareth, King of the Jews. Whoever curses Christ or Mary is cursed, whoever blesses Christ or Mary is blessed. It is also the mystical body of Christ, the Catholic Church.

Now, there is a racial component to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And, Palestinians do not just descend from Abraham via Ishmael, they descend from all three. Jordanians partly descend from Esau and partly from Lot's two sons, but Palestinians are mainly the Christian portion of the Israelite population of Roman Province Palestine, plus their either Christian (30%) or Islamised (70%) descendants.

This means that the "children of Israel" as most racially pure come in three main groups:

1) Christian Palestinians (in the New Covenant)
2 & 3) Muslim Palestinians and Jews (outside the New Covenant).

There are also Jews who convert to Christianity, but often though not always to the heretical Protestant sects, however, some of these are in some ways less heretical than original Protestants. I am neither "Hebrew Roots" nor Calvinist, but I would rather be "Hebrew Roots" than Calvinist. I am, as some may have gathered from my saying it over and over again on my blogs, a Catholic. Also, these are fewer than Christian Palestinians.

And this means that Aliyah rights should be given to Palestinians and withdrawn from Jews who can show no Palestinian Jewish ancestry last five generations or last seven generation before a new Aliyah arrival in Holy Land.

Government should be divided over a united territory, if possible, so that each of the named three groups should have its own laws and own rulers. None of the three should be allowed to oppress the other two, no two of them should be allowed to opress the third (in such a case, a crusade might be necessary).

Now, this is where BLC was right, and very much so. Here is where he was wrong:

Formerly Fundie : Literal or Metaphoric? (or are we asking the wrong question entirely?)
August 12, 2013 by Benjamin L. Corey

The one right thing with it is, we should take the morality of the Bible story seriously.

But the wrong thing is looking back on a question on whether a text is literal OR metaphorical (creation week is literal about creation AND metaphorical about redemption week, from Palm Sunday to Good Friday and Holy Saturday), and resolving by concentrating on moral sense ONLY and doing so on the pretext that:

First, I think an important foundation for us to agree upon is that the Bible is ridiculously hard to interpret. Yes, I know you’ve been told that scripture is actually so simple that anyone can understand it, but that’s usually a line used by people who don’t want their worldviews shattered. I have two master’s in the subject, am mid-way through my doctorate in the subject, can read biblical Greek… and for me, it is STILL hard to interpret scripture… certainly not a task that I would ever attempt in isolation. Understanding scripture is more than understanding the words… it’s understanding nuance of language, issues in translation, cultural differences with authors, audiences… understanding the Bible means we have to work tirelessly to understand the people it was about.

For certain parts of Gospel story which we agree are literal (Christ did literally say to Peter "on this rock I will build my Church and I will give thee the keys to the kingdom of Heaven") we might do well to be very wary this way and well armed with information.

The one available to me certainly supports more than my Church History that Peter was First Pope rather than First Local Bishop, so that Popes rather than Local Bishops are his principal successors. But this is an issue on which I have stumbled.

But when it comes to the passages where the debate is between literal and metaphoric interpretation, usually no amount of cultural info tends to draw into any real shadow of a doubt that the texts were meant literally. Example for how very disingeniously this is done: Creation story was to be taken metaphorical, because it is a parallel to Canaanean myths about Baal. This reasoning presupposes Canaanean myths about Baal were in the first place meant to be taken metaphorically, as allegories. I don't think so. I think back then, after Joshua had conquered the "debate" between an Israelite and his neighbour or someone he had conquered was not which of the stories was the better allegory or which of the allegories signified a true theology, but which of the stories was literally true : do we owe the Earth we live on to a God deciding to create, or do we owe it to a Superman who did some useful rearrangements of the carcass of a monster he had beaten? BOTH stories were meant to be taken, by their respective believers, as literally true. One of them must, both of them theoretically could be wrong, so both cannot be literally true. But neither was, as to the topic of creation, in any way meant as a metaphor for some other scenario of creation. The six days are NOT a metaphor for millions of years, and Christ makes it pretty clear in Mark 10:6. Death coming from Adam was literally true, and St Paul makes that clear.

A Jew who does not count Mark or Romans as Holy Scripture could, if dismissing Rabbinic tradition, come to conclude that one could take the six days metaphorically and yet not be scrapping all of the Tanakh. BUT, a Christian who does accept Mark knew what Christ had said, and who does accept Christ is God has no such liberty. It is not the rest of the OT one is scrapping so much as the NT.

As I mentioned the Seed of Abraham is the Catholic Church as well as Her Divine Bridegroom, it follows that the tradition of the Church over the Centuries is binding. And though there is some vacillation between "six literal days" and "one single moment", there is no hesitation in rejecting Egyptian chronologies as inflated. There is no doubt at all about the "young earth" if you count 5500 - 7500 years as young (or add another century or two even). A Pagan who counters "we have preserved history more than you, we know of 40.000 years of history" or who says "in Lhasa the library contains a million years of history" is simply bragging. And so are the guys who misuse dating techniques (either misuse C14 in ranges where it's not calibrated for the young earth or use techniques entirely fabulous like K-Ar) to make similar brags.

However, though the sensus moralis (the one good part) of this essay is usually good, there are two items on which he even gets that wrong:

  • I

    Instead of debating whether or not God flooded the whole world, or if it was a localized flood, the question becomes:

    Do you take it seriously that God is so anti-violence that he allowed the world to experience judgement when it became too violent?

    Here in America, we tend to forget that God’s disdain for violence was what triggered the flood story. Do we take it seriously? If we take this seriously, we must become the people who reject violence, instead of the people who are protesting in support of our right to use violence. We must be people who take God so seriously, we pick up a cross instead of a .45

    Violence was one part of the pre-Flood corruption. And the right to carry arms was not what triggered it. Invention of arms by Tubal Kain or by some fallen angel advising him may certainly or at least very probably have been part of it, but probably there was some gun control too before reaching that degree of violence. Some people with arms telling others they must have no arms. Or abusing their conscientious objections to carrying such.

  • II

    Instead of debating whether or not there was a burning bush, or a host of plagues across Egypt, the question becomes:

    Do you take it seriously that God hates slavery and wants people to go to any length to end it?

    If we do take the story of Moses seriously, we must be serious about addressing Human Trafficking in our culture. Whether or not every aspect of the story happened “literally”, the entire point was that God hates slavery and wanted Moses to free slaves. If we take this seriously, we’ll find ourselves doing the same.

    The slavery of Israelites was unjust in its origins, since Egyptians hadn't bought them as slaves, nor beaten them into slavery after an attempt against Egyptian freedoms. Some lengths to which abolitionists might want to go might be unjust too.

    But foremost, the slavery in Egypt was already hindering Israelites from worshipping God. Which not all slavery does, though slave hunters very typically do so (yes, God hates salve hunters, like Nimrod). Work loads preventing prayer and under one recent Pharao attacks on their fertility are not just any slavery, it is treating people like chattel.

    Freeing slaves is an act of mercy - if done the right way. If slave hunters are beaten in battle and the chief ones hanged, that is not bad. If slaves are bought in order to free them, that is very good and correct too.

  • III

    Instead of asking “Did God really rain fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah?” the question becomes:

    Do you take it seriously that God hates greediness, consumerism, and oppression of strangers/immigrants?

    If we do take the story of Sodom and Gomorrah seriously (which I wrote about here), we will be forced to recon with the fact that God was furious with this culture because they were “overfed”, “arrogant” and mistreated immigrants and strangers.

    Aren't you leaving something out here?

    There was a triple sin in Sodom "thy sister Sodom" as a prophet says of her to Jerusalem:

    • i) satiety of bread with pride
    • ij) inhospitality
    • iij) and ... and ... and abominations!

      A very clear indication of intentionally non-fertile sex. Of the opposite of "be ye fruitful and multiply".

So, there were actually three items where this no longer quite literalist (on Biblical history, where one should clearly be literalist) was not up to correctly identifying the sensus moralis of the passage.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre University Library
St Pauline of Nola

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