Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Seeking the City": Blogging Through Brand and Pratt - Biblical Theology 3

After several great chapters on what the Old Testament has to say on issues of economics, politics, and the rest, authors Chad Brand and Tom Pratt summarize in their book Seeking the City its message with the following eleven theses:
1. Mankind, created in the image of God, was placed in a world made for the sustenance and enjoyment of the race, a prospect only achievable through what we must call "development" and technological advance.

2. Human beings are by creation made directly accountable to the God of the Bible for all their activities. In their original and even "fallen" state they are "free to choose" without coercive interference. The world God created and continues to rule dishes out rewards and consequences at every level of endeavor and interaction. Governments are held accountable to the same standards and find hat "history" rewards and punishes them.

3. The fundamental context of all else for men and women is the obedient pursuit of ruling the creation through work and creative endeavor - seen as adding human ingenuity to natural resources, which are truly only "raw materials" until put into use, to produce a "developed" world from a lanet full of potential.

4. Primary to the accomplishment of such a task is faith in its possibilities and hope for the "blessing" of the One who gave the command and set in motion its daily realities. The search for a more "secure" future and prospect leads only to "confusion" and falsification of reality - worse yet, the imposition of overbearing and coercive "rule."

5. The fall of humanity into sin and death did not change the command, but it did change the nature of the realities. The category of "curse" now pervades life, with death beings its temporal fruit and damnation its eternal possibility. The "nakedness" of innocence is turned to the "nakedness" of judgment, requiring toil against the curse.

6. The Law given at Sinai at once begins a national experiment in the pursuit of "blessing" and the avoidance of "curse," even as it unfolds man's full obligation to his creator God.

7. Israel's failure to arrive at its full potential for "blessing" and its descent into "curse" foreshadows all of mankind's need for a complete (utopian?) "salvation." The problems arising from the fall are not confined to on nation but are universal. Israel repeats the "fall" of the first couple and becomes "naked' (Deut. 28:48) because she would not worship Yahweh purely in her prosperity and finally serves other masters as "slaves" in her own land according to Nehemiah and Ezra.

8. the utopian hope is not to be achieved by the imposition of temporal empires or systems, but rather by the elevation of a certain kind of character in (a) man. Heroic characters change systems. Systems and governments cannot produce heroic characters. Moreover, they tend to institutionalize and magnify evil in subjugating and exploiting human beings. This is clearly a call for a completely theocratic regime, a new and different kind of Zion, "city of the great king." No "beastly empire or kingdom can possibly bring "social justice" in the biblical way. This dream awaits the One who comes, upon whose "shoulder" shall be government."

9. As the Scripture passages we have cited throughout our study show, the sin of Israel in its social relations is not mere divergence in wealth from one another but specific crimes against the social order and neighbors. For Israel's failure to intercede and its outright instigation and collusion in the profits from immoral behavior, even the Davidic government and capital city have come under judgment.

10. The weakness brought on by sin, which is evident in even the most heroic of OT "servants of God," demands tat someone be "sent" to bring abotu the realization of the potential waiting in "the whole creation."

11. This arrival of the One to come will be a day of judgment, as the days of change and transition have always been in the Hebrew Scriptures, and will ensue on the basis of the Torah: "Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not ear me, says the LORD of host" (Mal. 3:5 ESV). (146-148)

"Seeking the City": Blogging Through Brand and Pratt - Preface

"Seeking the City": Blogging Through Brand and Pratt - Introduction 1
"Seeking the City": Blogging Through Brand and Pratt - Introduction 2
"Seeking the City": Blogging Through Brand and Pratt - Introduction 3

"Seeking the City": Blogging Through Brand and Pratt - Biblical Theology 1
"Seeking the City": Blogging Through Brand and Pratt - Biblical Theology 2
"Seeking the City": Blogging Through Brand and Pratt - Biblical Theology 3 

For more:
"Flourishing Faith" by Chad Brand: A Review
Brand on Coveting and Classwarfare
The Secular vs the Sacred: Brand on the Influence of Luther
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