Thursday, October 16, 2014

City of Light

The Word of God. What more ambiguous, what more dangerously ambiguous, expression in any language can there be? For, harmlessly we think, and habitually, and not without cause, we refer to the Holy Bible as ‘the Word of God.’

‘The Word of God declares,’ begins the assertion of many a preacher and writer (I myself have spoken and written thus), and then follows anything from a direct quote to a personal paraphrase, often deeply biased or out of context. Even the Church fathers, even the epistle and gospel writers, have sometimes written this way, quoting from memory, not always flawlessly. Yet, the Truth is not necessarily skewed.

The ancient fathers and saints, however, rarely open their instructions in quite this way, ‘the Word of God declares.’ They knew too much, most of them. They were still aware too readily and constantly that the Word of God was a person, the God-man Jesus Christ, and not some body of writings, no matter held how sacred. Yes, they all knew of the ‘the Law and the Prophets’ and the Writings.

What else did they have to go on, except their own personal experience of Jesus Christ, or the memoirs of the apostles and disciples who walked with Him? They respected the scriptures of the Jews, whether known to them in the Palestinian Hebrew heard in the synagogues of Galilee and Judaea, or in the Greek translation made for those whose contact with the original tongue had waned.

They respected and, yes, loved, these scriptures, because the only Lord they knew had respected and loved them, even identified Himself with them in His veiled sayings. With good reason, then, did this notion of ‘the Word of God’ expand to cover both the written scriptures and the Lord Himself who was the uncreated ‘scripture.’ They remembered, ‘The Word of God came to the prophet…’

All this, we must understand, takes place within a living community of people, the followers of Jesus, complete as a society with structures of authority handed down from the original apostles, from Christ Himself. Christians who believe in history (we who speak English read it as ‘His story,’ a useful pun) know this society as ‘the Church’ and make our best efforts at being members of it.

In a technical sense, it is only those who know the written scriptures as members of ‘the Church’ who can safely call them ‘the Word of God’ because they have agreed with one another since the beginning, that only Jesus Christ is ‘the Word of God’ and He alone the only Teacher of mankind. Having this knowledge, we are safeguarded from the legalism of the Pharisees and literalism of the Sadducees.

Or, at least we should be, yet we find throughout the long history of the Church various instances of human nature taking back what it had turned over to the Divine Nature for transformation, perpetuating ‘the old Adam’ again camouflaged in fig leaves, and delaying the coming of ‘the new Adam’ in the transformation of humanity, Jesus Christ being the ‘first-born’ of that new race.

First-born of the Father, first-born from the dead, first-born of the new race of mankind, Jesus Christ is literally, and not just figuratively, ‘the new Adam.’ That He is also declared to be ‘the Word of God’ in human form, we should then study His holy actions and divine teachings as our primary vision, since to see Him is ‘to see the Father,’ to have that ‘single eye,’ so the Body of Christ ‘will be full of light.’

The time is come ‘to cast off the works of darkness, and to put on the armor of light.’

No comments: