by Theo Poward
Water provides an important symbol in theology. It is linked to purity and cleanliness, but also chaos and destruction. In Genesis, it represents the primordial chaos that the order of our world was pulled from and may fall back into.
The flood narrative, and its metaphorical parallel in baptism should be seen in this way. A washing that only works because it destroys an old, broken order through letting loose chaotic and destructive water, all in the hope that something better can be built after the waters subside.
What we are seeing is a flood event. The old order is under siege, the waters are rising, and pillars and assumptions are collapsing because of the pressure from beneath.
In the Genesis narrative, Noah is saved by his faith, and his rejection of the corrupt and degraded culture that surrounded him. In this current flood event, the opposite is true. Morally corrupt men are protected, not by faith, but through their own power. We are seeing an almost total inversion of the Genesis narrative: Noah built the ark to protect his family, based on his devotion to a higher power. Supporters of these men protect them from the rising waters through a misguided devotion to them which gives them an ark upon which to escape judgement.
This is a variation and extension on the prosperity Gospel, the idea that large amounts of wealth and power are signs of God’s Grace. It confers a certain level of divinity upon certain rich and powerful men. Godliness confers this ‘teflon’ status, where they can continue to hold huge amounts of influence and power, be presumed innocent even in the face of proof, and be forgiven despite not showing an inch of contrition or guilt.
In this flood event, we are seeing a powerful challenge to this type of thinking. Change is happening, Roy Moore is the latest victim of it. We all should be on the side of the water. We should encourage these waters; our culture is broken and a destructive cleansing is the only way to fix it.
Let the waters continue to rise, and pray that we have the wisdom to replace the corruption and abuse in society with something better.