Thursday, January 19, 2012

Theology for Women: Wisdom vs the Law on womens' issues

Once again Wendy has articulated a theme I have come to appreciate more fully as I get older and keep reading the Bible.  Wisdom is not the same as the law.  While Wendy may be discovering this as a wife and mother I have discovered it as an unmarried man.  There are many people who try to teach wisdom as though it were law (Law). 

Wisdom is not Law and if anything a huge chunk of the Wisdom literature teaches this.   Does Ecclesiastes teach that we are even that good?  That which is crooked cannot be made straight, that which is lacking cannot be counted.  The race is not to the swift nor victory to the strong nor riches to the wise but time and chance happen to them all.  Yet how many people talk about 'biblical' principles of financial success (a.k.a. `stewardship')? 

How many people believe, down to the soles of their feet, that Job really was disciplined by God for having fear in his heart or nursing some unjustifiable attitudes toward the Almighty?  Does God Himself say about Job to Satan, "He has not rejected me even though you have incited me to punish him without cause?"  Well ... see because of original sin Job really deserved to be in Hell and so what God did was holding back.  Never mind what God said after all. 

Then there's Song of Songs.  This is poetry in which beauty is placed at such a high premium that translating the poem is a challenge.  Given all the debates about what the poems are even supposed to mean we may have to set aside the whole thing about erotica this and typology that and consider that maybe the reason the poems got canonized was because of something English translations can't convey, beauty.  That beauty certainly would have a difficult time coming across if Song of Songs were transformed into a marriage equivalent of a user's guide to Windows Vista.  Don't forget to run as Administrator on this stuff or the programs won't work. 

And then there are the Proverbs themselves. I have written enough about how the book introduces us to its theme by remarking on how the goal is to instruct the naive in wisdom and to give the wise insight into riddles. We may lean too much on the former and not enough on the latter.  The fear of the Lord is beginning of wisdom and this means we trust and do not lean on our own understanding.  Humans are a riddle that humans can never fully figure out.

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