This issue came up in a Smyth & Helwys Uniform Series lesson currently being edited (on Ezra and the building of the Second Temple). In this Haaretz piece, Samuel Lebens explores his complex relationship with the Temple Mount and with those who want to rebuild the temple:
What does it mean to desire a third temple? It does not mean the reinstitution of animal sacrifices. Generations of scholars, from Maimonides to Rabbi Kook, have indicated that the next temple will be a completely vegetarian affair. The desire to build a third temple isn’t even the desire to impose Judaism upon others. The prophetic image of the messianic temple is that of a ‘house of prayer for all peoples’ (Isaiah 56:7). Thus, Rabbi Nebenzahl, the saintly Rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem, has said that there can, of course, continue to be a mosque on the temple mount even once our temple is rebuilt. The prophets foresaw that we’d all be worshipping one God, but not necessarily in the same way. Perhaps the third temple complex will be a veritable interfaith fair where all of the monotheists of the world – including Hindu and Sikh monotheists – will converge in their diversity, retaining their distinct communal identity whilst directing prayers from the same place to the same God in different languages and modes.
Yes, it’s a dream. It’s a certain vision of a utopia. It isn’t to be forced upon anybody, but, progressive politics is all about dreams and aspirations. The dream that one day, amidst our religious diversity, the people of the world will be able to celebrate one another’s cultures and to pray together; the dream that one day, no religion will own the Temple Mount, forcing others not to pray within its precincts; that’s a dream that a progressive audience should embrace rather than ridicule. It’s a vision that has sustained the Jewish people for millennia.
It’s an interesting exploration for what the traditional prayers for a rebuilt temple, recited daily by Jews of all theological strains, might mean for mainstream Jews.
(H/T: Jim Davila)
The next Biblical Studies Carnival is now posted (a day early) at Sansblogue. Hurray!
Ircel Harrison makes several points worth pondering:
How often have you heard someone say, “I’m just not being fed” as they left your church to join another? I have always thought that such a statement was a bit humorous. After observing my own children when they were young and receiving a refresher course in recent years with grandchildren, I have learned that youngsters learn to feed themselves pretty quickly. In fact, there seems to be an inherent drive for them to learn to feed themselves. This doesn’t always mean that they make wise choices, but they do want to ingest food. This leads me to some observations.
Posted for your reading pleasure at Zwinglius Redivivus.
I love this gem from Scot McKnight:
A teacher is knowledgeable about Bible and theology, life and spiritual formation, self and local context.
A teacher is skilled in the tools needed for Bible and theology, including the languages and the literature.
A teacher is more concerned about having something to say than the prestige of being on the platform.
A teacher is not on the stage to impress people with what he or she knows but to educate the church in gospel ways.
A teacher is a good communicator.
A teacher mixes information and edification, neither resorting to the lecture hall or mere story telling.
A teacher loves to study, and that means time alone to ponder and pray.
A teacher has the capacity for clarity: taking big ideas, complex thoughts, and clarifying their significance for the church.
A teacher is patient enough to listen to new ideas in order to evaluate them with insight.
A teacher is open-minded enough to shift when the evidence suggests so.
A teacher has the courage to teach what is there and not what folks want to hear.
A teacher lets texts and evidence determine what is true instead of letting someone’s authority or a sacred tradition determine what is true.
Wycliffe Global Alliance has this gem:
Isn’t the Bible in the regional or national language adequate? After attending a recent church service, Lika speakers in Democratic Republic of Congo answered a quick and confident, “No!”
During the Sunday service the Congolese pastor was preaching in French, the national language. An interpreter stood at the front of the church, ready to orally translate the pastor’s message into Lingala, the regional language, for the benefit of those not fluent in French.
The pastor read Matthew 14:25 from his French Bible, “And late in the night, Jesus came towards them, walking on the water.” The interpreter then translated the verse into Lingala. Unfortunately, the French words for “water” and “bone” sound the same. The interpreter had Jesus walking on bones rather on water! Many people were mystified and confused: How did Jesus walk on these bones? Who put the bones there for Jesus? Who had killed the people so Jesus would have bones to walk on?
Many left the service that day with irrelevant questions clouding their minds rather than understanding and awe filling their hearts. The Lika team is now thoroughly convinced of the need for mother tongue Scriptures.
This reminded me of a story I once heard from a missionary about trying to preach in Spanish for the first time. He wanted to say that Jesus can give you a new way (camino) of life. He actually was telling the congregation that Jesus could give them a new truck (camión).
(H/T: Jim West)
Now posted at Reading Acts. Phillip Long is to be commended for a very thorough Carnival. Well done!
Last night Jack Caldwell led a very stimulating Bible study on the question “Is Our Church Spiritual Enough?” His text was Galatians 5:22-23, which discusses the fruit of the Spirit. Jack provided a handout listing the various fruits along with a suggested opposite:
I commend Jack for leading an excellent, humorous, and thought-provoking discussion. Of course, I never know when to leave well enough alone.
While Jack asked us to think of examples where our church may have exhibited (or failed to exhibit) these godly characteristics, my mind raced over to the left-hand side of the handout. I wondered if spirituality, or the lack thereof, could really be captured on a continuum with two end points, one obviously preferable to the other. Is it not possible, I thought, to misconstrue what these positive qualities are all about and overshoot them completely? For example, might we think we’re being loving when in fact we have settled for being merely sentimental?
Rather than seeing each of these pairs as the ends of a continuum, I wondered if we might really be dealing with the three points of a triangle. The base would be made up of two “inauthentic” qualities. (For example, in my example from the previous paragraph, these would be “Sentimentality” and “Hatred.”) The truly godly attitude would be at the apex of the triangle—above them both, and often uncritically claimed by people who are actually situated nearer to the base.If so, then maybe I can slightly adjust Jack’s table to something like the following:
|No Personal Boundaries
What do you think? Does this advance the conversation, or does it merely provide cover for people’s excuses when it comes to spiritual development?
Try not to nitpick the details with theological caveats; just enjoy the analogy.
But I never mentioned the many things my father did that were also heroic but not quite as exciting—like coming to all my little league games, working long hours to make sure we kept a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and cars to get around in even though money was very tight. Had I talked like that, it would have fallen on deaf ears.
[I]f we want to extend this to the New Testament, we can think of the teachings of Jesus as a more “mature” telling of God’s story. Jesus tells the story in a way that is more in line with who God is (“you have heard it said, but I say to you…”). Such things as land acquisition and killing and enslaving enemies is no longer part of God’s narrative.
It’s like a boy who grows up to be an adult, gets a job, and has a family of his own. Now ask him to tell his father’s story. The son’s life experiences have brought him to a deeper knowledge and appreciation of his father’s experiences, and the story will reflect that.
Now he will talk about seeing his father get up at the crack of quarter before light to trudge off to work, come home late in smelly and filthy machinist clothes, and then on the weekends build his son a fort, or renovate the basement, or sometimes just crash on the couch.
Both narratives, the child’s and the adult’s, are expressions of love. But now the less heroic acts become the more heroic and dominate story, the things the grown son is truly proud of and wants to tell others. And this story reflects the real thing more closely, with greater three-dimensional depth.
I would only add that my sense is that Judaism itself from the Second-Temple period on is also a more “mature” telling of the story of the God of ancient Israel.