Last week, Timothy Dalrymple, editor of the Evangelical Portal at Patheos.com invited me to join his team as a weekly columnist. I agreed, and this morning marks the launch of “In Progress,” my weekly column, which will be published every Wednesday.
This week I wrote about the tendency among Christians to understand recent events in Egypt through the lens of Old Testament story and prophecy, and how this is the wrong approach. Here’s an excerpt:
While I agree that a large swath of the population chooses ignorance over understanding the complexities of this particular moment in the history of the Middle East, I am sure that that there is another large portion of the population that, rather than having “no idea what was going on,” attempts to fill that void of information with whatever interpretive framework they find ready to hand. That is, I’m afraid many Western Christians are attempting to understand the protests in Egypt exclusively through the lens of Old Testament story and prophecy.
This association can be seen in a variety of places, from Britain’s Daily Mailreferring to the conflict as an “Old Testament-style fight,” to Glenn Beck’s end-times prophesying. Even Saturday Night Live jumped in on the fun on a Weekend Update in which Fred Armisen, as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, joked that, “Egyptians have never been great with symbols. Read the Bible.”
I can see both positive and negative aspects of this phenomenon, although the positive seems not positive enough to overshadow the negative. That the Old Testament stories of Exodus, stories that Christians believe tell us not only about who we are and where we come from, but also inform our understanding of the nature of God, so permeate our culture in 2011 speaks to their enduring power and persuasiveness. And yet, on the other side of this same coin lies the problem: it is too easy to force current events into a biblical narrative that may not actually fit.
Read the rest here, and be sure to check back every Wednesday for subsequent columns.
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