Strangers in a strange land
The Book of Judges and contemporary Christianity.
2 min. read
September 30, 2016

When the ancient Israelites finally made it to the Promised Land, staking their claim in a territory crowded by Canaanites, they were supposed to model a new kind of nation—a new kind of society—loyal to God’s kingship and covenant. As a people of faith, the Israelites were called to translate God’s sacred order into an order for society, transforming the nations around them. To borrow a phrase from Andy Crouch, they were supposed to engage in culture making.

“How can Christians today remain faithful to Christ’s lordship in a postmodern, secular society?”

Those who are familiar with the stories found in the Book of Judges will know that all too often, the reverse happened. Instead of creating a unique culture formed by their devotion to God, the Israelites were gripped by the alluring customs of the Canaanites.

But rather than looking at the book as solely a study on the moral failings of an ancient people, Dr. David Beldman, assistant professor of religion & theology, argues that Judges can be read as a source for public theology in our contemporary world.

As one of the winners of Redeemer Centre for Christian Scholarship’s 2016-17 Zylstra Grants, Beldman will explore these issues in a commentary on the book of Judges. His exegetical analysis will be balanced by theological implications for readers today. “Judges is not a collection of dusty stories of the past that have no relevance today,” Beldman says. “It teaches about the fundamental dimensions of social order (and disorder), ritual, the philosophy of time, political order, human flourishing, and so on.”

Judges casts a penetrating light on important questions for contemporary Christianity. Are we any different from the ancient Israelites who claimed to be God’s chosen people but engaged in politics, economics and other aspects of society the same way their neighbours did? How can Christians today remain faithful to Christ’s lordship in a postmodern, secular society? How do we bear witness in a way that is relevant to the issues and questions of our day, without inadvertently bowing down to contemporary idols? What would our culture actually look like if Christians put the claims of Christ into practice in the public realm?

Beldman, an expert in Old Testament wisdom, will grapple with these contemporary questions through the lens of an ancient book that demonstrates God’s persistent call to his people, then as today, to proclaim his lordship over creation.

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