On spiders

On spiders

“Of all insects, no one is more wonderful than the spider.”

That, at least, was the opinion of America’s greatest ever theologian, Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758).

I’ve been reading Edwards over Christmas break (since “Puritans for Christmas” seemed as good an oxymoron as any); and I came across a passage today in which he links God’s goodness to the pleasure He delights to give to even the most “despicable” of creatures.

As a boy in colonial New England, Edwards marveled at how spiders could sail at will upon the wind by releasing filament in just the right amount to catch the breeze.

“And without doubt, they do it with a great deal of … pleasure.”

He wrote a scientific paper on the subject at the youthful age of sixteen, but Edwards’ true focus was always theological.  As he watched the spiders sail magnificently overhead, he mused that

We hence see the exuberant goodness of the Creator, who hath not only provided for all the necessities, but also for the pleasure and recreation of all sorts of creatures, and even the insects and those that are most despicable (WJE 6:154–62).

This is, it seems to me, a beautiful portrait of divine love (however accurate it is of “insects” [sic.]).

SPIDERS IN THE HANDS OFGOD

Yet Edwards is more famous for another spider reference.

In his famous sermon, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God,” he piled lurid image upon image to frighten congregants with the idea of God’s hateful wrath.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors [hates/loathes] you, and is dreadfully provoked…

The sermon proved effective. But at key points (and despite good intentions), Edwards’ imagery went a good bit further than the Scriptures.

For this reason, it might be good to balance one “spider passage” with another.

The idea here is that the same Creator who judges evil in accordance with his holy love, is also the God who (according to Edwards) takes delight in granting “unnecessary” pleasures “to even the most despicable” of creatures.

Speaking of which… the view from my laptop:

beach

 


 

My most recent book, Long Story Short: the Bible in Six Simple Movements, is now available at Seedbed.com.

Signup here to receive bonus content through my email Newsletter (“Serpents and Doves”).

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Free Videos for “Long Story Short”

Hey friends, the video curriculum for Long Story Short is now available at Seedbed.com (here).

As a sample, they’ve even made the videos for Creation (Ch. 1) and Jesus (Ch. 4) available for free.

I’m hoping that the video curriculum–along with the discussion questions and Bible readings at the end of each chapter–will serve churches and small groups well as they dive into the book (and more importantly, the Bible) in fresh ways.

Enjoy my occasionally creepy eye-movements and the one polo shirt that I apparently wear for all such videos 😉

Chapter Four: Jesus: “Why Directors Should Wear Makeup”

Chapter One: Creation: “Why Sugar-Momma Had to Die”

 


Long Story Short: the Bible in Six Simple Movements is now available at Seedbed.com.

Signup here to receive bonus content through my email Newsletter (“Serpents and Doves”).

I will not clog your inbox, and I will not share your email address.

Why Sugar-Momma had to die

Why Sugar-Momma had to die

The folks at Seedbed have released a free excerpt from my book, Long Story Short: the Bible  in Six Simple Movements.

It’s about the biblical creation stories. But it bears the oddball subtitle of “Why Sugar-Momma had to die.”

Read here.


If you’ve read the book, please stop by either Amazon and Seedbed.com to leave a friendly review. It helps get the book in hands of folks who might not otherwise see it.