One of the effects that we see playing out before us, whether on our TV screens or on the streets of this nation, of the long term and incremental destruction of the traditional family unit and model is the loss of what I refer to as the wisdom chain within our families. The wisdom chain is what I term the old model that was once prominent in America, and still is in some other cultures, of three generations of a family living together. Sometimes this came in the form of actually inhabiting the same home, and sometimes just in the form of regular gatherings. It is a model in which the grandparents acted as the patriarchs and matriarchs of the family, the holders of wisdom. The parents were the provider generation, providing for both the children and the grandparents who were now too old to work. Lastly, there were the children who were the benefactors of both the wisdom of the grandparents and the provision of the parents. This wisdom chain worked to provide for the passing down of the wisdom of the elder generation and instilling in the youngest generation the values and morals that they would need when assuming their position as the provider generation, and then eventually they would pass their wisdom on once they had moved into the role as patriarchs and matriarchs of their own families.
I sat there, on my couch, late at night, watching a giant cockroach gorge on some “red shirt,” splattering the camera with poorly-rendered CGI blood, while the heroes of this B-movie ran for cover down some cavern. I loved those kind of movies. The cheesier and bloodier the science fiction, the better. In this case, the horror and blood was nothing but gratuitous, and I relished in it on that particular night.
My wife and I were going through a marital challenge, and I was unjustly angry at her. I knew putting something like this on television would make her leave the room. It did, and she went to bed.
In the midst of the movie, I recognized I was “numbing out” the anger and pain I felt by watching these monsters feast bloodily on humans, or at least the image of humans, since it was just a movie.
“Why am I enjoying watching the image of humans getting ripped apart?” I suddenly asked myself. “Isn’t this devaluing and degrading to the image of God?” The thoughts came unbidden to my mind.
And then suddenly, almost as clear as you reading this to yourself, came the question, “Why do you enjoy watching the destruction of people, when I love and died for them?”
I suddenly felt sick to my stomach.
“The Christian should be the person who is alive, whose imagination absolutely boils, which moves, which produces something a bit different from God’s world because God made us to be creative.” Francis Schaeffer
Understanding the world we live in and how to live an impactful life was the crux of Francis Schaeffer’s life and work. He encouraged his generation of Christians to take their writing, art, and storytelling seriously for the glory of God as well as for the testimony of Christ. This legacy continues to inspire artists of every genre and I am pleased to say that Brian Godawa has taken up the task of exceptional storytelling, using imagination and apologetics to tell the “grandest story ever told.”
In “God Against the gods: Storytelling, Imagination, and Apologetics in the Bible,” Godawa takes aim at several lofty goals, and hits the bull’s-eye of each one. Of primary importance in this writer’s view is that Godawa states that the Bible takes a far different view of historicity than modern people do.
Godawa’s claim is that the Bible uses mythopoeic and figurative language intentionally, but that this usage in no way undermines the truthfulness or the theological accuracy of what is stated. This is an important point for modern readers who have a somewhat different understanding of what constitutes historical accuracy and even truth.
It is an impressive assertion that God never intended to satisfy the rigorous and often ridiculous demands of critics throughout the ages who would point to this passage or that statement as an example of why the Bible cannot be trusted. Instead Godawa argues that God’s inspiration of the biblical texts remains intact, having been providentially guided for His purposes, by intentionally utilizing imagery, symbolism, metaphor, and poetic figurative language much the way Jesus Christ did during His public ministry. In this way Godawa is arguing against the modernist obsession with rational abstraction and empirical observation as the only gate keepers of truth.
To make his case Godawa presents seven chapters based on articles and essays he has written that explore various topics such as:
- God’s intentional unmasking of the spiritual reality behind pagan gods.
- How Israel’s use of mythopoeic elements shared with other Near Eastern peoples can be used apologetically today.
- The biblical depiction of our universe is a theological expression of the grandeur of God and not a detailed physical or scientific expression.
- Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill is really a powerful Christian theistic worldview apologetic.
Readers will find a thorough and thought-provoking examination of such things as the true meaning behind “the host of heaven” and God’s “divine council”; of the penchant of Hollywood filmmakers to use Near Eastern mythopoeia to make blockbuster movies (hat-tip to the 2012 Marvel adaptation, The Avengers); of the necessity of understanding the Bible through a supernatural Near Eastern worldview which by the way, is very different from our own; how biblical cosmology/cosmography is not aimed toward scientific concordism, and it is a mistake to insist on that outcome; and the relationship between metaphor and prophecy especially in the eschatological genre.
In God Against the gods, Brian Godawa has provided a wonderful primer for the Christian apologist, author, and Bible student who is interested in engaging our modern world with powerful information and answers to questions commonly asked by those searching for understanding and truth.
Brian Godawa’s website – www.godawa.com
*A copy of this book was provided to me in PDF format free of charge. I received no remuneration for this review.
This article explores the subject of Scripture and the Authority of God in the 21st Century. Part one will discuss the authority of God understood within Christian theism generally and historically. Part two will discuss the authority of God historically within American culture. Part three will consider God’s authority within 21st century postmodern America as that philosophical system increasingly dominates most scholarly activities today. Part four will be a Christian theistic response to the conditions discussed in part three.
The Old Testament of the Bible contains many narratives that give instruction to the modern Christian. One such example is the story of the prophet Elijah and the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.
In 1 Kings 21 we find the account of the King and Queen of Israel plotting to dispossess a man of his property. Deceit, lying, and libel were all employed expertly by Jezebel to cause the murder of the man Naboth. His crime? His desire to retain his land and vineyard and not sell them to the King. Naboth rightly stated that he was forbidden to sell his land to anyone because God had given it as an inheritance (21:3). Thus in seeking to obey and honor God Naboth became an enemy of the King and Queen.