Book: Old Testament Template
You can read this book online if you like.
To Fold it Out -- the Book and Its Vision
The purpose of this book is described at the very beginning, at page 2: „The Template Institute [which published this book] exists to ... promote biblical thinking in the workplace and on issues of concern to communities and nations." I.e. Landa Cope shares her transformation of her thinking and gives some guidelines and councils in different areas of life -- in the silent expectation that the truth will change the reader: „God never changes. Pray that we, His people, do." (p. 10) „If God can develop these poor Jews into a great nation, he can do it for any existing nation in any age because not one community or nation in this world is worse of than the Isrealites in that wilderness. [that is: 3 Mio. people without any education]" (p. 38)
So the main point of the book is: God has created the whole universe, and so God wants to give us full live, much more than „just" eternal life. Stop dividing your world by „spiritual" and „material", as „holy" and „unholy", or „secular". When we picture Jesus as saviour only, „we huddle in the foyer of God's great mansion and try to define ourselves there[;] because our lives have less and less to do with the outside world. Is it any wonder, then, that we fixate on experiences and feelings, seeking refuge from the world we live in rather than engaging it?" (p. 42)
It was very revealing to me as she cited Jeremiah 9:24: „but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the LORD." (highlight of LC, p. 8) It is on earth that his glory has to be revealed. Through the church, that's right, but not only through the church. Also in jurisdiction (righteousness), economy, arts ... She proposes a bible study (for the purpose of getting to know God better), colouring what the bible, and esp. the Thora, says about the different areas/domains of community, of life. Of each area I will point out what has been new to me, or never thought about this in such clarity.
„God gave the authority of governance to the people" (p. 52), and by doing that, he's giving an enormous freedom of choice. That is his way to disciple the nation: she is teaching that its choice will have an effect, whether good or bad. The people of Israel chose to have a king, so God tolerated and even blessed this governmental system. (It is also interesting to note, she says, that even though the kings Saul and David were annointed by a prophet, it was the people that appointed them to rule, not the prophet.)
Landa speaks about a fair lending and borrowing system, promoting the idea that many Jews lived out: as soon as they had established their existence, they gave the rest of the money to others to help them do so. In some ways it is contrary to what is done today by humanitarian organisations or the western governments. „Aid [i.e. simply giving away goods] is reserved for those who have absolutely no way of providing for themselves and will die without assistance. Israel is certainly in this kind of circumstance in the wilderness -- and God provides for the Isrealites. ... The day, they had the feasibility to provide for themselves, God withdrew the manna. ... God did not want to create a dependent people, but a people, who drew on the gifts, talents, and resources He had given to see them provide for themselves." (p. 68, highlight of myself) Somehow we are tented to create and sustain victims, but that means that those who are needy will stay needy. Somehow we think, we are the resolution of their problem -- but we aren't, God is. As long as there is a possibility that one day we will be dispensable, we should aspire to do so. Even if it takes a bit more time to explain twice what to do, instead of just doing it. Oh Lord, help me to teach them to plant potatoes, instead of giving potatoes away for free (in order to meet needs).
First it has been important to learn for her, that uncleanliness in the OT is not an allegory for sin, but God's live-giving rules for hygiene. (p. 79/80)
But even more interesting to me has been her attitude about healing. „The Bible makes clear that miracles are possible, but they are exceptions, not the rule. Miracles are spectacular interventions of God for His own unique purposes but they will never be the norm." (p. 81) First I thought, um, are miracles always rare? Were there rare in Acts? Will they be rare in the last times, the „latter rain" (Joel 2:23)? But then I realized that's the German mindset: „how many prayers to do for how many demons, how many kilometres, for how long?" (Dean Sherman) It's not about percentages here, it's about principles. So I acknowledge that it is wise to seek help of the doctor (and at the same time praying for healing).
Additionally, concerning the debate „science vs. belief, knowing vs. believing", she states: „God is not at war with His material world. Science is, of all the domains, the most limited because the scientist cannot discover anything that God has not created. ... He is not alienated from His material world; He uses it to reveal Himself and man is still discovering Him in it." (p. 82/83, highlight of LC)
Landa points out that fulltime-ministry is not a „better" job than „just" working in a factory. At the same time, she says, there is a difference. (As I tried to eliminate all differencing in faith & life, I disagreed also here. But now I'm not so sure about it anymore.) She explains: „As believers, we all are encouraged to fellowship on Sundays. However, some of us go to work on Monday at the same building where we went to church. The rest of the believers go to work on Monday in some other important role within their communities. ... All of Israel was taught to be holy, but the levitical tribe (the priests) were to model holiness to the rest of the Nation." (p. 89)
This raised the question: So, am I a priest? Because I do think that my main task is to represent God, but I stopped thinking that this will be in context of church. Is practical help, e.g. being carpenter for the temple, part of the levitical ministry?
Additionally, this little note enlightened a bit more her propagation for checks & balances: „The result of [the levitical tribe] not being given carts, and additionally, being required to carry the Tabernacle, put a limitation on the priesthood's ability to acquire wealth. (That did not mean that they were to live in destitution. However, it did limit their potential for financial power amongst their people.)" (p. 90) Interestingly, she states: it is God-given, God-made, that each domain has authority, but no domain has total authority.
It was also interesting to hear what Landa spoke about raising children. The main point of it was that our actions explain the kid what's worth living for. „Uninterrupted, [children] will continue to evaluate all of Life and the world [they] live in through that grid of reality. In our modern christian terminology you could say that we have most of our worldview in place before we ever leave home for school. To say it another way, in our first four years of life, parents and the home environment will give us the definition of reality that we'll use all our lives." (p. 98) It is so crucial then to be emotionally healed -- to be able to pass on emotional stability to my children. And it's also clear, that our actions talk much more than the words that come out of our mouths -- as the children can't understand yet what you say; they do understand how you say it, though. It's like the famous quote, „Tell the Good Message to all creation; and if necessary, use words for it." (is attributed to St. Franziscus). Let us love our children with extreme diligence -- as they will multiply it, and they will change the society with it.
Epistemology / Education
„God is a God of knowledge. He can be known. ... You could say that inquiring minds are godly minds and one of the primary marks of discipleship is expressed in questions -- the desire to learn and know." (p. 115) That's wow. Really. I mean, I knew that it's not impossible to know God. But ... I didn't know that one might know him to this extent. „Mystery in scripture is a result of the difference between what we know and what God knows, not what is knowable." (p. 116) And knowing him means also reflecting him, his character, his nature. „From Genesis to Revelation, God reinforces the concept that knowledge is demonstrated in actions, faith in works, learning in growth, wisdom in love. ... For God, wisdom is not just choosing right, but understanding why it is right. God's goal is not, finally, obedience but agreement." (p. 117) Oh Lord, then I'd love to learn how to totally agree you. „Model Jesus' love of learning, and you will make those around you hungry for more. Children love learning unless they are told to be afraid of it. All it takes to learn is the willingness to admit you don't know." (p. 124) Oh Lord, okay. That's worth it. I am in need -- come and help.
So now, knowing that learning makes sense (in Islam, learning doesn't make so much sense. God does what he wants anyway, so why forcing things), we can move on talking about education systems. „God gave no authority to governments over our children. God gave that authority to parents. Governments are created by God to deal with the masses. By design, that is their function. Education, by its nature, is an individual process. ... Parents can delegate their authority to a public school system, but if they abdicate their support or if their role is ignored or even denied by the institution, those schools have very little legitimate authority over the children." (p. 121) This had been just an interesting, clarifying thought on the structure of authority. But furthermore, the quote „Educators I've talked to all over the world agree that the two most important keys to learning are the parents' attitude and involvement, and the motivation of the child. The biblical view [of men] is that every child is gifted, every child can learn, every child has value, and every child has the right to reach its full potential." (p. 123) showed me that valuing somebody means (also) to support him in his willingness to learn, help him get a bit closer to what he's meant to be.
Landa is criticizing our attitude that the media form our thoughts. As we learnt in the teaching of spiritual warfare: we, humans, are the decision makers. So we choose what is allowed to form our thoughts. The point is not to stop the TV shows telling lies, but start telling the truth, so that spectators of TV can choose to believe the truth or the lie. „The media are not powerful in and of themselves. They are an influence that we, the audience, choose to empower or not. ... The popularity of a given message is a reflection of the audience, not the power of the message itself. The power belongs to the individual and when we embrace this as the way God created us to function, we embrace our role as communicators who offer people a choice." (p. 128) She mentions that Jesus never stopped people from saying their opinion. She also draws a astounding parallel: „Not one developed country today is without free press. Perhaps more importantly, not one underdeveloped country has a free press. It would seem that the freedom of expression is tied directly to people feeling responsible for their society." (p. 129, highlight of LC) Equally she tries to take away the prejudice that a medium, e.g. the Internet, is bad in itself. For „all scientific discovery is morally neutral. Only the use of it could be classified as good or evil." (p. 131) This reminded me of a discussion, whether Einstein has invented the atomic bomb (because he enormously prepared it by his ideas) or not, or whether a pacifist can research for the atomic bomb (to assure freedom, because both party have the technology to destroy another) or not. But surely, it's true, you can use a stick to kill, or to do your harvest of crop.
Arts and Entertainment
Yes, I do love beauty. Beauty of grass being moved by the wind, melodies resounding in my heart, faces, inspiring thoughts, ... I don't know were this taste comes from, but I'm very sensitive in what is creative work and what is just normal, flat. Perhaps I'm an artist.
And it took a while for me to understand, but now I know that the word „God" doesn't have to appear in a text for the text to be godly. So I thank Landa for deepening that understanding: „Unredeemed people create beautiful things because they are created in the image of god. They just do not realize the source of their talent or discipline or their love of beauty. ... Beauty [Art] has intrinsic value as an extension of God's character and nature." (p. 137) Because beauty (creativity) always reflects God's beauty, it is life-giving.
To Sum it Up -- My Reactions on This Book
Well, I'm not finished yet, but the book has been absolutely worthy to be read. It evoked mainly my cry for teachability: „Lord, conform my mind. Teach me how to think, and to act according to it." Secondly, but it's almost the same point, „Here I am. It is my purpose to reflect you."
And thirdly, it was amazing to see how beautiful, ordered and balanced God made these institutions. That's why I sketched a little overview about how God is ruling according to Landa Cope.
|Domain||Reveals God as||Primary attribute||God governs through|
|Government||The King of Kings||Justice||Delegation of authority to the people|
|Economics||Jahwe Jireh, God our Provider||Goodness||The laws of agriculture|
|Science||The Creator||Order and power||The laws of nature|
|Church||The Great High Preast||Holiness and Mercy||His sovereign choice and anointing|
|Family||The Father||Love, Nurture||The laws of love|
|Education||The Great Teacher-Rabbi||Wisdom||The laws of human nature|
|Communication||The Living Word||Sovereignty||The laws of human nature|
|Church||Song of Songs, The Potter||Beauty||The laws of aesthetics of each discipline|