Sunday, January 4, 2009

God's Inviolable Promises?

Liturgygeek subscribes to The Christian Century and the cover story deals with Israel's attachment to the land.  On the front cover is a quote from professor Gary Anderson which says "If the promises of God are inviolable then Israel's attachment to the land is underwritten by God's decree."  Professor Anderson then writes an article that about how an understanding of God's promise to Abraham helps us to understand Israel's claim to the land to the responsibilities based on that claim.  

I would like to take issue with Professor Anderson's assertion the God's promises are always inviolable.  I think one of the themes of the New Testament is that God is no longer willing or able to fulfill earlier promises.   Jesus, as God incarnate, dies at the hands of the Romans instead of establishing a new Davidic kingship.  This tension between what God said God would do and what Jesus was announcing that God is doing fills the New Testament.  God promised to rebuild the temple into a better temple than the original but the Temple of Jesus time was built by Herod and would be destroyed by the Romans.  The narrative tension of the Gospels is propelled by those who hear the voice of God anew in Jesus and those who still cling to the old promises.  The disciples often fall into the latter group and serve as a foil to Jesus.  

I think it would be more productive to instead of trying to fit the events of the Middle East into a pericope of ancient promises and instead try to hear what new things God is saying.  Instead of trying to base our understanding of today's events on what God said to Abraham, I thinkwe need to hear what God is saying through the Palestinian whose home is being invaded or to the Israeli whose lives in constant fear of rockets.

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