Saturday, 25 April 2015

11 Reasons Why Leviticus Overwhelms Us

There is probably no book of the Bible more ignored than Leviticus. It feels so alien.

But its alien nature is probably as much due to our unquestioned assumptions as any essential difficulty. Have a look at the 11 underlined reasons below, some of them are at best half-baked truths, others are plain crazy. How many of them have you unwittingly swallowed over the years?
  1. Simplicity = purity. There are a lot of seemingly irrelevant picky details in Leviticus.
  2. Here, God seems angry with the people and not like the nice Jesus we know, God isn’t angry with us anymore, so I don’t need to engage with this stuff.
  3. “Progressism” (C. S. Lewis called it “Chronological snobbery”) Like racism but with progress. Technological progress (iPhone 6 is better than iPhone 3 etc.) leaves us feeling that newer is better and that people who lived in the past were stupid because they hadn’t worked out how to make the Internet and they kept slaves. So because Leviticus takes place in the past, it is inferior and therefore has little important to tell us.
  4. When we open the Bible, we want God to say something relevant to our life today. We long for a rapid emotional connection. Easy when reading the Psalms, difficult when reading Leviticus, so we ignore Leviticus.
  5. We have a strange relationship to animals. Blood sacrifice is alien to us. We love to eat them, but we can’t bear slaughtering them.
  6. We are automatically suspicious of rituals, institutions and especially organized religion.
  7. We believe the only way to be authentic is in expressing our individuality and in being “original,” not in repeating rituals. (This is the essence of the consumer economy.)
  8. We think about our salvation primarily in individual terms, not in terms of a community.
  9. We think that God’s grace is to be experienced primarily as an inward / psychological reality, rather than an outward / community reality. One expression of this is that “modern” churches will more often climax their meetings with prayer ministry time, rather than communion.
  10. We assume that the trajectory of human history is from the physical to the spiritual, that we will shed all our physical forms. (This is a version of Gnostic thought, which at root is heretical.)
  11. Faith is first and foremost a private matter.


Anonymous said...

what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it.

Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

In speaking of a new covenant he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Richard Walker said...

Thanks for dropping by, Marco. I think Leviticus points to that greater glory and is caught up in it as it is surpassed by it. The signposting function of that former system is what gave it that temporary glory. :-)

Anonymous said...