"Ice cold!", answer Outkast.
What's better than perfect?
"Good", answers Brian McLaren, author of several books that irk Al Mohler.
"Jewish goodness...is far better than Greco-Roman perfection" asserts McLaren, who appears to be having a go at the Greco-Romans. One of the problems with the Greco-Roman narrative, as McLaren sees it, is that it leaves no room for other narratives. But has McLaren's narrative not just destroyed the Greco-Roman narrative, or at least claimed superiority over it? It surely has, which sounds suspiciously like an imperial, dare I say Roman, maneouver. I don't doubt that it's been pointed out before, but McLaren is merely creating a new "us/them" - the very thing he condemns in the previous chapter.
What the Greco-Roman narrative says to any other narrative that comes its way is "There ain't enough room in this town for the both of us, punk". Is the Greco-Roman narrative right? Is there only room for one sherrif (story) in town? Or can the history and future of the world have multiple overarching narratives? Consider a film like Crash. What is the overarching plot? Is there one, none, or several?
I wonder how McLaren would answer some of these questions, because he seems to say one thing yet do another.
But quibbles aside, his contrast between "perfect" and "good" is an interesting one. Both the six-line narrative and McLaren's lineless narrative begin with creation. The difference, as McLaren would put it, is that one act of creation begins a "state" whereas the other begins a "story". The state is perfect (it was created by a perfect God after all), but the story has room for improvement (and deterioration).
This, I think, is another place where the traditional re-telling of the Biblical story falls down. I'll sum up the myriad things I could say with this: Adam is not the end goal of our existence. Salvation does not consist of getting things back to the way they were before "the fall", because God has more in store for us than what he had for Adam. The creation of humanity was indeed a "very good" thing, but God's story will take humanity beyond Adam. God intended as much from the beginning.
Rather than a static, wound-up creation-product, we must allow for an "open" view of creation; a creation able to grow, able to groan, and able to be renewed by its Creator. Think of her as clay in a potter's hand, being spoiled by sin but being re-shaped by grace. The conventional telling of the Biblical story does not evoke this kind of Creator/creation relationship. Perhaps I'm guilty of a McLaren-esque caricature here, but it is easy to get the impression that God created the world, dusted off his hands after the fall, and then finally intervened through the life of Jesus.
C.S. Lewis says that the Incarnation -- God becoming man -- is the Grand Miracle. It is the event that makes sense out of all other events. But in our popular version of events, it is the event that is a total anomaly; the event that makes no sense whatsoever. We can affirm it, but we can scarcely believe it true; scarcely believe that God was actually pleased to undertake it. This disbelief springs not so much from reverance as from a lack of real, intimate knowledge of God. At root, our story is muddled, therefore our knowledge of God is muddled.
In order to unmuddle, do the existing acts of the six-line narrative simply need to be edited for content; do we need to actually add and cut some acts; or does the whole story need to be thrown on the ol' scrapheap with a fresh one emerging in its place?
McLaren proposed the latter, but so far he has simply edited the first line of the traditional story for content. He does hint at something more radical in one of the endnotes, and it is something I hope to get back to, because it is something that I had been thinking about myself and was very excited to read.