Summary: This is the 1st of a sermon series exploring the changes that have taken place in our worldview in the last 40 - 50 years. This sermon explores the paradox of the human search for order, and the divine imposition of chaos at the tower of Babel. It then
Bibliography: Culture Shifts: A Bible Study of Postmodern Times, Lesson 2
For the next several weeks, we are going to be taking a look at the times we live in and the changes that have taken place in the way we think and act over the last 40 years.
Tonight we will look at how our society and our world has moved from relative order to chaos.
Forty years ago, it was understood that basically everything could be determined reasonably and logically. There was a set pattern to thinking and behaving. Somewhere, somehow, there was an understood code of conduct. But somehow our world seems to have lost the rule book and our rapidly changing world causes us to question everything that comes our way.
Nothing is sacred.
Everything and everyone is fair game.
Chaos is the norm for the world we live in today.
Our Bible lesson this evening is the story of the city and tower building at Babel. It too, is a story that goes from order to chaos.
The story of the tower and city built at Babel has been one of the most confusing one’s for me. It is an attempt to explain the diversity of languages and cultures in our world following a world-wide flood. The entire world, then, was populated beginning with Noah and his family. But it does not by any means comes across as a historical, documentary account of how we got to where we are.
If we go back to the 10th chapter of Genesis, thats what we’ll find there, as descendants from Noah and his family are listed, along with the races of people they eventually became.
Just as the two creation stories exist in the beginning chapters of Genesis, our 11th chaper of Genesis seems to be going back and retelling how the world was populated and diversified in a different way. I can’t see this story as anything but that - an ancient story. It is not a historal account of a tower built toward the sky. I don’t believe we can point to a spot and say,”This is the birthplace of ancient French, German, Latin languages, and so forth - instantaneously and simultaneously. Its a story that is suppose to tell us something about humankind and something about the nature of God, but the story of Babel takes careful looking at, to understand the moral for us there.
When we look at this story, it seems what the people are doing should be a good thing. What’s wrong with everyone speaking one language? Isn’t unity a good thing? Why is God concerned with the progress they are making? Why is the story of diversity in our world and the difference in our languages and cultures explained in such a negative reflection on humankind?
Often I do a comparison between the biblical times of our story and the similarities of our modern world. I find myself having difficulty exploring the days of the biblical account this time. Perhaps it is because a concrete time and existance is vague for our story. But when I read the story and apply it to our times today, our society and issues weave in and out throughout. The building at Babel definately describes a culture shift we are experiencing.
Now maybe that doesn’t make sense to you. The story says the people were all of one language. How can that possibly be true for us today with so much recognition of the diversity in our world today? We are well aware of the different languages that exist around the world. Let me see if I can share some examples of the “one language” I see.
Since the 9-11 attacks, there has been a commercial running on television with people from all different races and walks of life who, one after another, have the same line: “I am an American.”
That doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Unity in our country should be a good thing.
In an effort to keep peace and detour hate crimes, the national day of prayer had Christians and Muslims worshipping together. It was meant to keep peace, but it represents a growing trend to accept all religions as equally valid religions; each pleasing in their own way to God.
Yet, those other religions do not recognize a God who is Father, Son, & Holy Ghost because they do not recognize the person and Godhood of Jesus.
Equality among religions - one language.
To go to the other extreme, there are some denominations of Christians who draw their circle of unity very tightly. In the name and effort of unity, they have declared their understanding of Scripture and doctrine as the only true understanding. Anyone not a part of their denomination is not Christian. In some cases, anyone who is not a member of their church, well that persons salvation is in doubt.