Q & R: From a 77 year old woman …

Here’s the Q:

I have just finished reading your book, “Secret Message of Jesus”, and was surprised that you understand the spreading of the Kingdom in the same way I do although I have never thought my idea was unusual or special.
There are two problems that I have related to your book, though they are not new ones.
First, I have a huge problem with the Creation story. If God was in charge of creation, and created all things then that means he created Adam and Eve to sin and the Devil to make them do it. And the rest of the Old Testament tells the horrible stuff that ensues from that.
In addition, if God created, and he was all alone while doing it, who wrote Genesis? Who was there with God to be able to report on what was going on?
My other problem is the Lord’s Prayer which is rightly fully understood as a prayer Jesus taught his disciples. But two thousand years have passed and how many bizillions of followers have prayed it yet the Kingdom does not come. And where is God’s will being done because I don’t recognize it anywhere. And if his will is being done on earth as it is in heaven, heaven isn’t going to be a much better place than this is. Too many people go daily without their daily bread and most Christians are not willing to forgive their debtors so why would God forgive them.
I am a 77 year old woman who has spent 34 years in Lutheran ministry and these two things I’ve written about have bothered me since I can remember.

R after the jump …

R: Thanks for your note. I’m so glad you enjoyed Secret Message of Jesus … On your 2 questions …
On Genesis, you’re not alone in raising those questions about the Genesis story. But here’s my hunch: the real problem isn’t with the story, but with the assumptions that we bring to the story. For example, what if we’re mistaken in our assumption that the two creation stories (have you noticed that the stories in Gen 1 and 2 are very different?) are meant to be taken as literal, historical, scientific, journalistic fact? What if they have a different intention entirely, because they emerge from a different culture than our own that thought and communicated in different genres and categories than we do? What if we’re mistaken in assuming that to say God inspired a text is exactly equivalent to saying that God wrote it?
These are questions I try to grapple with in my newest book, which I think you’ll find helpful … A New Kind of Christianity. It’s built around ten important questions, and I think you’ll find your questions about Genesis addressed in the first three questions in the book.
On the Lord’s Prayer … another great question that makes me think you’ll find the new book helpful. In the Future Question, I use an analogy to a presidential inauguration. President Obama began his administration in January 2009. So we could say that since then, his inauguration “has come.” But that doesn’t mean it has finished its work yet. In the same way, I’d say that the kingdom of God “has come” – meaning that it is present like yeast in bread or like seed in soil, doing its work. But its work isn’t fully accomplished – far from it, as you say. So when we pray “May your kingdom come” today, we’re praying for it to come more and more fully. Instead of it being an all-or-nothing thing, it’s more like the metaphors Jesus used in his parables … like a seed growing, like yeast spreading, and so on.
That gap or tension, between God’s kingdom being fully inaugurated but nowhere near fully expressed, becomes for us a call to action. It challenges the complacency of many people who, as you lament, have their daily bread while others don’t, or who refuse to forgive others while claiming God’s forgiveness themselves.
Thank God that at seventy-seven, you’re still asking great questions!