Abraham's Legacy

by Mike Dodaro


T
he life changing influence of faith in God has a compounding effect. The longer one lives in Godís presence, the more confidence one has that the moral and spiritual precepts of the Judeo-Christian tradition are true.

Sometimes this is evident to other people. Dramatic conversion stories are always interesting. Unfortunately they can only be verified by people who have seen, first hand, a transformation in a family member or friend. What might be the equivalent of the regenerated life that is verifiable by anybody who wants to know what God is doing in the world? Those of us who have studied apocalyptic literature and prophecy understand its impact and why millions of people continue to be intrigued by it, but it leaves unanswered questions. Many people are suspicious of the whole interpretive process or just donít get it. There is another way to discuss Godís continuing activity in history even for non-historians.

The story of Abraham is not difficult to understand and relate. Godís promise is that through Abraham all nations will be blessed. Whether this promise has been fulfilled is open to verification by anyone. The Mosaic Law is at the core of Western Civilization. The creation epic of Genesis and stories of the patriarchs are pervasive in art and literature, as are the Gospel narratives. Human rights as we know them were established in culture thousands of years ago by the Hebrew prophets. On both sides of the currently raging culture war, numerous advocates recognize that the battle is about the Biblical cosmology and moral core of Western culture.

Courses in the history of Western Civilization begin with the Bible because the dominant civilizations of human history are culturally descended from Abraham. Other ideas found their way to European civilization, but everything was sifted and evaluated under the auspices of the Christian Church in its several permutations. The early American settlers were religious pilgrims who believed in Covenant Theology, and strove to create a society that would be a city on a hill. They succeeded beyond their most extravagant imaginings. Everything that remains of their enterprise is what postmodern critics are trying to deconstruct.

Clearly God is interested in human history on a larger scale than personal morality and religious experience. Jesus preached to the powerless and infirm, but his Kingdom sayings, especially the parable of the mustard seed, could not have been more prescient as to how the Kingdom would develop. And weíve only seen the beginning. The current epic in Christian Civilization involves a crisis of faith in everything noble and beautiful in our heritage. Churches of every denomination are in uproar about the formal order God has revealed. The more radical departures from traditional culture stretch credulity by the ideas being propounded. Old line Protestants adopt the values of the intelligentsia and Evangelicals pander to postmodernism in every permutation of popular culture, while the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church astonishes the world with faith that demolishes Communism.

In the current upheaval, the church only needs to continue to speak the truth in love, upholding the culture of life against moral anarchy. Many compromises have been made, many of them destructive, but none are irrevocable or unredeemable. Godís ancient promises have been fulfilled despite atrocities against the church and even those perpetrated by the church. Christian theology will survive. It survived Egyptian Gnosticism, Greek Platonism, and persecution by the Roman Empire. The postmodernism of the current academic mafia will not prevail against a church that continues sifting and salvaging the virtues and artifacts of its long militancy in the world. The Kingdom comes. -- gmdodaro@hotmail.com