Isn’t circumcision supposed to be an everlasting covenant?

Monday Musings for June 07, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

One of the things that make us different from the animals is our ability to grow in knowledge as a species. Even if we grant the animals “advancement” through evolution, generational training (like when a mother cat teaches a kitten how to catch mice) and communication between their own kind — and in a limited fashion, to human-kind — their capacity to grow as a species pales in comparison with ours... so much so that, when it comes to communication, we are different by category… and not just different by degree.

God made this plain when he gave us dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26). He reinforced this when he told us that he made us responsible to find him through the things he’s created (Romans 1:18-20). Animals can’t do this because they are primarily instinctual and not rational. But the key difference is that God made us — and not them — to be moral beings (Romans 2:14-15). The physical creation shows God’s morality too.

But he also made us as spiritual beings (John 3:6-8)… so we are without excuse if we don’t find God. Besides, it is not a matter of “finding” him; it is a matter of letting go… of giving in to his pull (John 6:44)… of responding to the manifold witnesses of God.

God gave us the facility for logic, language and writing. These made it possible for us to pass on knowledge — not just to our contemporaries — but between generations. This gives us an extraordinary advantage when it comes to growing in knowledge: our knowledge accumulates.

But the way God designed knowledge assumes an epistemology... rules that govern knowledge. This is important because we often claim to “know” something… yet people claim to “know” things that counter it! So, how do we adjudicate competing claims?

It’s possible to “avoid” these issues by claiming that Scripture should be interpreted allegorically, not by the historical-grammatical method (which is the standard). With allegory, the propositional content of the words is never the primary meaning. There is always some “secret” knowledge or “higher” knowledge that people say they can access — and this secret knowledge is what God really wants us to know. The problem with this is, God wants to reveal, not conceal.

Furthermore, God used common language and common language rules to communicate uncommon things — even spiritual things! But the spiritual things are not revealed to those with special knowledge. They are revealed to God’s children as they read their Bibles… as the indwelling Holy Spirit helps them understand Scripture’s content. God put the things he wanted us to know in writing — not in strained allegory… and writing has rules.

So, what do we do when God gives very plain directions in the Bible — even throwing around words like “everlasting covenant” — but then “reveals” something that countermands what he said previously? Isn’t God’s word eternal? … and doesn’t eternal mean “in force forever”?

Welcome to today’s conundrum. Does God contradict himself? We could make that argument... depending on what we do when the “eternal” words in the Old Testament collide with the “eternal” words in the New Testament. The claim, “God, said it! I believe it! That settles it!” is moot if people can prove that the Bible contradicts itself. So, how do we proceed?

 

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