Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Insider Jesus 3: Religion in the Biblical Narrative

In Insider Jesus 2: How Does God Work in Creation and Culture? A Theological Proposal, Dyrness claims that “religions traditions must be in some way capable of being included in God’s project of renewing and restoring the earth” He quotes Isaiah 28:26 “their God teaches them” to show how God is present in cultures. But it don’t get the connection to religious practices from that text. I wonder if we can make the opposite point, i.e. since we can learn from God in ‘mundane’ things like farming (Is. 28:26), why would be reluctant to learn spiritual things from God? That seems to be the point from Is. 28, as the context is about judgement. So I’m a bit unconvinced still that Islamic/religious traditions/practices MUST be somehow (in Christ) capable of being included in God’s project of bringing in the new creation.

This brings us to chapter three: Religion in the Biblical Narrative. Here the summary to the chapter is helpful:

From the biblical narrative we might conclude that though religion can be a carrier of authentic faith and the means of offering appropriate thanks and praise to God, God does not take delight in religion in and of itself. (Kindle Locations 1267-1269)

And though Jewish religious practices in themselves did not constitute the fullness of God’s provision for human salvation [salvation is from God, not from religion], they provided critical and indispensible hermeneutical spaces that allowed believers to work out the meaning and implications of Christ’s life and work. (Kindle 1280-1282)

These religious practices represented resources and situations in which people were called to responsibility before the living God. And I will argue that other religions mutatis mutandis [once the necessary changes have been made] may offer their own spaces in which people can seek after God. Of course they can no doubt represent the futility of human attempts to reach God, but might they not also represent potential places where Christ can be encountered and God’s project worked out? Might they be spaces where something is set in motion, a fresh impulse of the Spirit? This possibility can be illustrated using specific case studies, and it is to these we now turn. (Kindle 1282-1287)


  • I believe he follows Kraft in that religious forms are neutral and arbitrary.
  • There is a spectrum of ways we can understand the relationship between form and meaning: arbitrary to correspondence to equivalence (Moreau 2012, 95). Dyrness is definitely on the arbitrary side.

Up next, chapter 4, Case Studies.

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