Tuesday, January 17, 2012

TWA Wrap Up: The Magi Talk

I hope you enjoyed the first Talking with Atheist. I did and I found it a useful way to think through the question. Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts with me either in person or by leaving a comment. This is a chance to wrap up the discussion.

Recap: The original question FA asked was, "Is it a contradiction to celebrate the magi who were practitioners of astrology, while at the same time condemning the use of astrology elsewhere in scripture?"

In answering, we Christians, showed that we are willing to accept that God put a sign in the sky be it a special star, a super nova, a comet, or an angel. We also seemed to fall into one of three camps about the actual question:

1) Doesn't Matter: Some answers focused on other facts of the story without answering the original question. Either the question got lost or doesn't matter. The sense I got was that this isn't an important question, the story isn't about what these men did but that God was bringing people to encounter Jesus.

2) Weren't Astrologers so there is no contradiction: Translators often interpret the Greek word magoi as "astrologers" but not all do. It's hard to say. There isn't enough about the wise men to actually know for sure. I think they were. Sciences as we know them today didn't exist at this time. Watching the starts and predicting the future were all wrapped into one. Examples I can think of are how both the Egyptian Pharaohs and Babylonian Kings had magians and wise men about them to give them insight, propheys, and even interpret dreams and visions. It seems that the Magi were probably these time of "wise men."

3) God's Grace: God knew who and what these men were and used them any way. It could be that God was preparing the way for Gentiles to be included in Jesus' mission. It could be that God was reminding us that he can use anyone even "sinning astrologists." Maybe God was reminding us that all have sinned but all can have new life when they encounter Jesus. I think Robin's answer was mine only worded better, "...could it be that God, in His grace, sometimes reveals Himself even to people of false religions...perhaps because they are sincerely seeking truth, not just blindly believing? Could it be He does this even through their own religions? Ultimately it led them to Jesus."

That is the conclusion I have; do you have something to add? Did I miss an response? Would you like to make a counter argument? Leave a comment below and check back later this week for another fun "Talking With an Atheist" post.


Robin said...

Good summary. This is my favourite new series you've done in a long time and I hope you do more.

I would just add to my comment that it doesn't mean that God approved of their religiousractices, He simply spoke to them through them. Again, grace.

I happen to think ever culture, even in their religions, has some measure of God's grace, that He reveals themself to them within their own culture in some way. It may lost in time and tradition but He has left His fingerprints somewhere.

Gloria Sigountos said...

one thing i would say is that Magi comes from the Latin word for wizard. Just thowing that out there. but I am looking forward to this series.

Elizabeth said...

Robin, again I agree with you. Have you read Don Richardson's Eternity in their Hearts?

Glo, what...my google search was wrong? I spent all of 10 seconds finding and article with the "real" translation...I feel so let down :)

Robin said...

The NT is Greek, not Latin, though. Does the Greek have the same root meaning?

And Liz, I started to read that book, but it was borrowed from the library so I never finished it... must have had too much on the go at the time or something. I must buy a copy some day.

On a sort of related note, check out the doc "God's Fingerprints in Japan" sometime if you haven't already. I believe it's on YouTube.

Elizabeth said...

I can loan you the book next time you're visiting New Hope. And I will check out the video, thanks for the suggestion!

Gloria Sigountos said...

Robin: my husband has his Greek New Testament out the root in Greek is Magos. which is where we get Magic.

Robin said...

Nice. Well I learned something new. Thanks!