An EC Verse of the Day

(Christy Hemphill) #1

Proverbs 14:4: “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”

To be sure, the theological stable was a lot cleaner before evolutionary theory came and pooped all over. But, it does do some really heavy lifting for us in biology and geology, and lots of scientists couldn’t do their work without it. Sure, it would be nice to have an evolutionary model that didn’t make any messes for our traditional Bible interpretations, but we do our theology in the real world where we sometimes have to shovel manure and smell animal sweat. We can refuse to have an ox because we don’t like the messiness, or we can admit we need it to describe reality and try to deal.

Wise words from Scripture. :slight_smile:

(Phil) #2

What a great proverb. The word picture painted gives us such a good image for life. So often we hear arguments that state essentially that a position is rejected simply because we don’t find it pleasant or agreeable, when the question we should ask is whether or not it is true. If true, we need to deal with it regardless of whether we like it our not.
Is this verse of the day going to be a regular feature? Will you be submitting the verse daily or will there be a rotation? Obviously, there should only be one verse of the day, but will they stay in this post or each have their own post? Is “day” 24 hours or an indeterminate amount of time? So many questions…

(Christy Hemphill) #3

LOL. No, only when the Spirit moves.

(Laura) #4

Reminds me of the (non-scriptural) proverb “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.”

But sometimes I’d really rather have my theology all tied up in a neat little bow with all the answers right there! :confounded: :yum:

(Mervin Bitikofer) #5

Well – while we’re on a theme of glorious messiness, it has intrigued me how “clean teeth” means something different now than it did in ancient times (or perhaps through most of human history --I wonder if we aren’t the odd ones out here.)

I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me, says the Lord. -Amos 4:6

So that shouldn’t be confused with an ode to dentistry. But it is a wonder that tooth aches don’t get more (any?) mention in the bible.

(Christy Hemphill) #6

That came up in Mark Strauss’s criticism of the ESV. It’s an idiom that means hunger or famine.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #7

When I saw this verse, my mind immediately went in a different direction.

One can think of the proverbial ox not as evolutionary theory but as church folk who disagree with us on these matters. Sometimes I (speaking for myself) would prefer to do without the unpleasantness (“stable odor,” if you will) of people who I see as bringing disrepute to the gospel by spreading falsehoods about science (this is just how I see it, dear YEC brothers and sisters, please don’t be offended, read on)… but I feel that these very people are often some of the most zealous in winning souls (the harvest) and in assuring that our tradition remains faithful through the generations. We need all kinds… even though I do pray we all come to agreement on such matters someday.

(Christy Hemphill) #8

That is the beauty of a good proverb. So many applications.

(Phil) #9

Today our reading comes from Isaiah 43:

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.

Now, of course Isaiah is talking about the nation and people of Israel in these verses, but my attention was brought to it by the way it showed the ongoing creative action of God in our world, and the involvement of all creation, animal life as well as topographic features. The last verses telling of God’s purpose, provision, and our role was touching as well. I started to just copy verse 19, but felt the surrounding verses were needed to complete the picture.

(Paul Allen) #10

It is clearly better to have an ox in order to increase harvest, even if it requires some investment in feed. The metaphor also speaks a word of humility, for as one needs the help of the ox to produce a harvest, so one needs the help of wisdom to succeed in life.

Is evolution your ox?

(Christy Hemphill) #11

It could be in one application. That is how many proverbs work. You have the literal meaning and then the principal which can be applied to whatever set of diverse situations you can come up with. Anything the causes you some trouble or work but also adds to the productivity or bounty of life could be an ‘ox.’

(Mervin Bitikofer) #12

We are in good company applying proverbs to new circumstances. It seems Paul would approve…

1 Corinthians 9, starting in verse 7:

Or who tends a flock and does not get any of its milk? Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law also say the same? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Or does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was indeed written for our sake, …

Yet we know, despite Paul’s apparent protest here that God is indeed concerned with oxen and fields and the earth itself. But this doesn’t prevent Paul from rightly co-opting it to teach the even higher importance he attaches to how we treat each other.

(Peter Waller) #13

Should we make conclusions while the stable is still poopy?

(Christy Hemphill) #14

If we are still in the context of the proverb, I don’t see how having a clean stable is necessary for a strong harvest, so I’m going to go with yes, we should make conclusions.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #15

Here is a verse (or I’ll make this a ‘two-fer’ rather):

Job 28:3 (ESV)

Man puts an end to darkness
and searches out to the farthest limit
the ore in gloom and deep darkness.

Coupled with Proverbs 25:2:

It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.

I know the Job verse is read as miners digging for precious things deep in the earth, but I still think it isn’t much of a stretch to see curiosity and exploration in play here. An early ode to science? (Where your Solomon types are standing in as the early archetypes of the natural philosophers?)

It seems to me that God delights in the gaps here – and also delights in the gaps being searched out and illuminated. Sorta like a playful grandparent hiding from her grandson, but delighting in being found by him.


I will use this with my young earth church friends. Wow, you are a word smith. I need simple easy the grasp concepts to explain my OE position.

(Dan Eastwood) #17

Beats the heck out of claiming Oxen don’t exist.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #18

A reading of the day from our Catholic friends. Behold, Wisdom 19:19-

For land creatures were changed into water creatures, and those that swam went over on land.

Don’t worry about context as this clearly predicted Tiktalik and its friends coming on to land and Pakicetus and its friends going back into the waters.

(Mary) #19

I think you or BioLogos should produce a Scientist’s verse of the day - for a month or year! Not all of them should be about EC - some should just be the wonder of creation, or the problem with taking all verses literally. But with a carefully written commentary, it could encourage scientists who are leaning towards EC to feel confident in the path they are taking (without using a blatant argument about YEC!) … and it is “Biblical”!

(Christy Hemphill) #20

Great idea! We should add it to @Kathryn_Applegate 's potential project list.

On a related note, my friend Catherine McNiel just wrote a book on contemplating the imminence of God through observing creation and responding in worship as we attend to how nature changes through the seasons. It is with her editor right now, but when it is published, I would love to interview her or write up a review for BioLogos. I think that is exactly the kind of thing we need more of, to get away from the idea that all EC folks care about is converting YEC people or defending science. We are totally on board with contemplating the redemptive work of God in his wondrous creation.