Forgetting to Remember: The Crisis of Spiritual Alzheimer's in the People of God
Remembrance is a central theme in the covenant between God and God’s people in the Hebrew Bible. Yet, consistently in the text and in the world, God’s people too easily forget God, forgetting what God has done for God’s people in the past, who God is to the people of faith now and thus who they are and how they are to interact as the people of God. This faith forgetfulness has led the people of God to put others and other things in God’s stead, leading the people away from God and away from their identity as the people of God. To support this premise, parts of the pattern of not remembering and its negative effects in the biblical text (specifically in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Judges) will be briefly highlighted, as well as how notable biblical scholars have supported this reading of the text. Historical and philological criticism will help to explore the background of what the theme and theology of remembrance meant for the Israelites in their context and language. Rhetorical criticism will be used to help the listener understand what these stories of remembrance and the lack thereof would have elicited in the hearer then and today. When the people of God do not remember who God is and thus who they are in relation to that God, the lack of remembrance becomes their faith’s death knell. Thus, the idea of faith memory will be introduced for application and simultaneous correction to the habits of the modern Church. The Christian faith must change the way it remembers in the Church or it, as a faith tradition, will not survive. Further, the Church must understand that the lack of remembrance, remembrance of faith memory and of God, is a fundamental failure of the people of God and an ethical issue that must be corrected. A modern parable describing this chronic faith forgetfulness as a spiritual type of Alzheimer’s disease will be used to help convey the urgency and import of the problem at hand.
Childs, Christina J