Thursday, September 30, 2010

Map or Guidebook?

Missional theologian Alan Roxburgh wrote this a couple of years ago.

We’re like Abram — called to leave cherished places and move out into spaces where we’ve never been. But this is God’s journey and the Spirit is with us. In the Bible is an imagination to guide us. It’s not a road map or secret guide from the past to be unlocked. In his book Can These Bones Live? the Baptist theologian Barry Harvey put it this way:
…the Bible provides nothing like a map that charts the precise path for us to follow into the future. What it does give us is the travel itinerary of God’s people, that is, the story of their pilgrimage as strangers and foreigners through this world toward the kingdom of God… An itinerary, by contrast, consists of a series of performative descriptions designed to organize our movements through space: ‘to get to the shrine you go past the old fort and then turn right at the fork in the path’.
He is so right. Since his reflections here come from thinking about the power of the unexpected (i.e. The Black Swan concept) it is only natural that he goes this direction. Which is in direct conflict with those who see the Bible as a step-by-step blueprint (or AAA Trip-Tik) on what's going to happen. Many over the years have been surprised or saddened by the things they expect to happen but don't.

In some way or another the goal is the Kingdom of God. What that looks like and what we do about it is a mystery each day. It is not a mystery to be solved with point by point ideas, but by living in God's presence.

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