So you’ve stuck with me. Good for you. So . . . my points:
- God didn’t make a covenant with Israel. Instead, the Jews pieced that together over several centuries. It was the Jews who made the covenant with God, not the other way around. God would come up with circumcision? C’mon. Obviously, the Jews cooked that up and then legitimized it by making it a holy ordinance, a sign of the covenant.
- God didn’t make a New Covenant with the world. Instead, Paul created the idea of a divine Messiah who dies for our sins and then rises again. Or at least he’s credited with the idea.
Both Paul and the Jews made out like God had created their specific covenant. I think they were lying. Yes, lying. Or maybe they had deluded themselves, come to believe their own lies. People do that. There is such a thing as a pious fraud. Joel Osteen, for example.
The Old Covenant didn’t get any pushback. If you were an ancient Jew, why would you argue with someone who tells you that you are part of the Chosen People? You’re on the winning team.
Paul, though—that’s a different a case. He got a lot of pushback to the New Covenant. As he said, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” The apostles back in the Mother Church in Jerusalem certainly didn’t like it. But then the gentile church kept growing and growing. There were only so many Jews to convert, after all. Then the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70, the Mother Church collapsed, and the rest is . . . Christian history.
Within 300 years, the Mother Church would be in Rome after a pagan dictator had made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. The only thing Jewish that remained in Christianity is that the Christians read the Hebrew scriptures. (And most evangelicals are made uncomfortable by the picture of God in the Old Testament—all the over-the-top rules and bloodshed—though they’d never admit it.) The Old Covenant was replaced.
And it all started with Paul and the New Covenant. The New Covenant tuned the world upside down.
“What do you think of that?”
It’s been sputtering of late, though. The whole No-One-Comes-To-The-Father-Except-Through-Me thing doesn’t go down well with millennials. They’re not comfortable with Only One Way. They believe God accepts everyone.
That’s why we need a fresh word from God, as the charismatics say. However, fresh words aren’t really God’s strong suit. He doesn’t necessarily like the status quo, but He doesn’t make a fuss. He lets us figure out things on our own.
We need a new Abraham/Paul. We need a new revelation—a Third Covenant, one that we make with God, not the other way around.
I’m aware that when you look for a new revelation, you’re opening a can of worms. When you allow for a new revelation, you get Joseph Smith claiming God told him to sleep with other men’s wives—and daughters. (In fact, Smith actually said that God sent an angel with a flaming sword to threaten Smith with bodily harm should he not fornicate. I kid you not. Google it. Type in “Joseph Smith flaming sword.”) In his defense, I think Joseph Smith had told his lies so often, and had been rewarded for lying so often, that he had come to believe his lies. Like Joel Osteen.
I don’t think this new revelation, this Third Covenant, is going to come in a “Thus Sayeth the Lord” kind of way. You want my opinion, that new revelation will come to our New Abraham/Paul gradually—the way any revelation that’s a real revelation happens. Bit by bit, it’s going to dawn on him/her that God wants people to go in a different direction. In fact, what God wants is really beside the point. It won’t be a lightning bolt, a Road to Damascus experience.
God doesn’t do things that way.
Instead, this new Abraham/Paul will check with his/her friends. I’ve been thinking this. What do you think of that?
Finally, this new Abraham/Paul will in essence say, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any longer!”
Truth is, a lot of wannabe Abrahams are saying that very thing. But the church isn’t listening. Those Abrahams are being blasted for preaching against the Word of God—much in the same way Paul was blasted for preaching against the Torah.
More people are listening, though.
Pretty soon, we’ll get to a tipping point and will see clearly the will of God—or we come to our senses and realize that trying to figure out what God thinks is a losing game. We will see that what we had assumed was revelation, the Bible, was no revelation at all—or, at best, was a mixed blessing. Plenty of wise words, but also a lot of dross.
Now God is doing something new—bringing gays into the church or bringing the church to gays or something—to the extent that He really does anything. (He mainly lets us figure out things on our own.) The lightbulb will go on for more and more people. Others, they will kick and scream. But it will happen—if only because the people who believe the Bible teaches exclusion are going to, well, die. The young people, if they are prompted to stay in the church, will want to stay in a church that welcomes LGBTQ people.
Which will tick off a lot Christians. The apostles, the guys who walked around with Jesus for three years and learned at his feet, said the same thing about Paul when he insisted that gentiles should be able join the Jesus Movement without obeying the Torah—specifically, getting circumcised. The apostles hadn’t even considered the idea of approaching gentiles, much as the church had never even considered approaching gays until lately.
The church will change. If it doesn’t, it will cease to exist. It will drop the There’s Only One Way to God mantra. I hate to use the cliché, but the church will celebrate diversity. The church will stop focusing on certainty and will start focusing on mystery.
That’s the Third Covenant.
Photo: Gay day protesters by Jason Scragz CC BY 2.0