>Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I wish you the very best.
It is difficult, to say the least, to give a gift via a blog. Such is the nature of the beast. But if I could give you one thing that would have a big different in this coming year, it would be this: I would give you an ‘s’.
An ‘s’ can be a wonderful thing. Especially when you put it at the end of words that have been made singular but that should be plural!
Two historic examples and then some contemporary ones:
The Industrial Revolution, according to historians like John Merriman, was actually three industrial revolutions.
The first was an agricultural revolution which allowed people to grow more, which encouraged a bigger population and thus all the surplus labor that would be needed. The second was inventions that impacted small groups of workers, like the cotton gin. Then came the big one that generally gets all the headlines with big industry and coal burning factories. The name ‘the industrial revolution’ is a bit of a misnomer that lumps these three together. They actually happened progressively over quite a long period of time.
The same happens with the ‘Protestant Reformation’. Most people don’t know that Luther and Zwingli were kind of up to two different things and that later Calvin came in (initially as a Lutheran) and then there were at least three little reformations. Then there was England’s Anglican movement that was doing its own thing, and the Anabaptists. That is 5 reformation movements.
When it comes to religions, it is often appropriate to add an ‘s’.
When we lump together the Jewish religion or the Jewish perspective, we may be overlooking the fact that there are three huge branches within Judaism, as well as many other splinters. There is a Reformed Judaism, a Conservative, and an Orthodox. They are very different from each other.
Islam is the same way – there are over 80 types of Islam. So when we say “Muslims _____” we may want to be careful and be more specific by adding a plural mentality and saying “some types of Muslims ______”.
Even within Christianity there are God knows how many different kinds of Christianity. So to say that “Christians believe ______” is more than challenging. It may be misleading.
There are several Judaisms, several types of Islams, and multiple Christian perspectives.
Sometimes people say things like “the Biblical Worldview” as if there is only one. There are actually many worldviews that informed Scripture. Certainly the view of those who wandered in the desert in the Exodus story had a different view of the world than Paul the cosmopolitan Roman citizen of Jewish descent. And one can clearly see that what Paul wrote in Romans 13 to submit to governments because they do God’s work was a different worldview than the person who wrote Revelation and called Rome ‘Babylon’ and a ‘whore who is drunk on the blood of that nations’. There are many examples that I could use but the important thing to note is that there are many worldviews in the Bible.
We are entering an era of Plurality and Multiplicity. These are two things that I value tremendously. Adding an ‘s’ is sometimes the key to getting it right – to move it from overly simple singularity to the possibilities of seeing the diversity.
There is not one kind of Judaism or a Jewish perspective. There is not one type of Islam or a singular ‘Muslim’ perspective. There is not one one kind of Christianity or a single ‘Christian’ perspective.
My gift to you this holiday season is an ‘s’. It may seem little… but trust me, it can be very powerful when used in the right place.
December 21, 2010 at 9:01 pm
>Gods? Truths? Saviors?
December 22, 2010 at 2:59 am
>you seem like a straight forward kind of guy :)I am going to take the absence of commentary on the initial post as affirmation that you agree with the initial (elementary) examples that I have used here. (if that is not the case, let me know)SO let me say two things in response to your question:1)Even if someone believed that Jesus & Christianity were the ONLY way, then what I am suggesting in the post would still be a good direction to go. Without even addressing the categories that you have raised – this is a GREAT thing to add to our tool belt!2) Now let’s look at your three questions:Gods: The Old Testament is clear that other nations have Gods. There are other gods. We don’t talk much about Zeus or Thor these days but once upon a time they were big regional gods. The Babylonians, Assyrians and Egyptians all had their own Gods. So the Bible is clear that there other Gods.What WE are talking about is A) is our God “the God above all gods” and as Christians we confess that it is absolutely true. B) that God was in Christ and revealed God-self to the world in an incarnation unparalleled in religious history (which is to say: human history). Truth: as Christians, we believe that Christ is the incarnation of God and reveals the truth about God. That does not mean that there is no truth to be learned or gained in other religions. Two things need to be said about this: A) for too long the Crusaders & Inquisitors have been in charge of truth. In the era of Post-christendom we will come to understand truth differently. B) many types christianity hybrid all sorts of stuff (philosophy, bylaws, reformed doctrine, etc.) with the ‘truth’ of Jesus. Salvations: Mark Heim wrote a fascinating book called “Salvations”. He is a christian thinker who says that it is not exactly parallel to say “does Hinduism answer our Christian questions?” because they are trying to answer different questions. Thoughts?
December 27, 2010 at 4:05 pm
>According to Albert Hyma, John Calvin "saw very little good in Zwingli or Luther". That really underlines the fact that the "reformation" (which was really only one expression of a broader movement), had A MULTIPLICITY of expressions. History tends to (for the sake of managability) lump things together. If you do not lump things together, it is extremely complex unless you are a HISTORY NERD. But WE KNOW looking at our own times that history can not be as simple as it looks on the surface. As it is now, so has it always been. We live in a complex world, and we always have.