A couple of recent comments and some offline conversation seem to call for a fresh attempt to explain a couple of items.
Ancient Near East (ANE) — We are not ANE. We harken back to that collection of civilizations because it appears to be the last time humans consistently used a frame of reference that enabled understanding God’s revelation. We could be just as happy without any reference to the ANE if folks would stop confining themselves to Western epistemology.
So instead of trying to imagine ourselves somehow as a revival the grand ANE traditions, we are content to make the most of our limited knowledge of that time in human history and extract some workable form of logic that seems to account properly for what Scripture says. We already know Western intellectual assumptions are utterly incompetent at analyzing Scripture. That’s so patently obvious we refuse to debate it. But we use the image of ANE as the source of Scripture, and as such, it cannot be ignored.
We are not, and cannot be, ANE ourselves. Instead, we seek some common ground of logic that escapes the prison of Western thinking. This brings us to the other issue that keeps popping up. I wish there was a sharp marketing blurb that would cover it, but the best I have right now is the intentionally ambiguous: Reality is fungible.
Western culture asserts a model of reality that seems to work. That’s reality as far as Western minds are concerned. I don’t argue that point. I simply deny that reality is objective and concrete. Whatever you perceive as reality is de facto reality for you. Conflicts between different folks over particulars in the model have to do with efforts to account for things that don’t quite match the fundamental model in the first place. But to a large degree, your model of reality has a massive influence over what reality seems to do. Reality flexes to meet perception.
In the process of meeting you half way, reality will cease providing certain options. It’s not merely that you won’t see it, but it will frankly be impossible to get it. You’ll be standing next to someone with a different view of reality and they will not only see things you don’t see, but they’ll frankly receive into their existence things you can’t have. Reality is a living thing and it can read your mind, in a manner of speaking. It will respond to you in a personal way. I could as easily say: Perception is reality. But that’s already pretty popular and loaded with false baggage.
For those of you who feel drawn by what we teach here, we are creating a new reality. We are striving to see those options precluded by Western intellectual intransigence. We take reality personally. Don’t confuse that with subjectivism or solipsism; those two are both Western afflictions based on arrogance. We remain humble and penitent or we make no progress. We believe this approach is inherent in ANE thinking, so it’s utterly consistent with Scripture.