"Identity" - September 2017
Brevard Childs, the Old Testament scholar, said "worship requires that we put away our sophistication and follow our more barbaric ancestors." The quotation is thought provoking because it acknowledges the potential contribution that the barbaric world can make to the modern civilized world.
For example, the ancient’s identity was formed based on their association with groups, not on their individuality. The rationale is in the fact that an individual could never survive in the barbaric world. Survival was based on group association.
In the modern western world we seem to understand our identity through our individuality and only secondarily through our association with groups. We can survive this way because we live in a civilized world that encompasses armies, police, governments, etc. A physically weak person can live a life of isolation without incurring the certain consequence of death.
While this may be true, it may also be a disadvantage to believe that we are doing just fine when we are isolated. Could the ancients be right? Are we stronger through our associations with groups? Is our identity more secure? How about the Christian who says, Ï don’t have to be a member of a church to believe in Jesus?’
The ancients knew that their real strength was based in their association with groups. They had no choice. They knew that isolation led to vulnerability and community led to security. We do have a choice, but maybe we should "put away our sophistication and follow our more barbaric ancestors."