THE 'LETTER' IS NOT ALIVE
It’s a mistake to regard the words of God as if they are God. Thomas Torrance wrote, “Biblical statements are to be treated not as containing or embodying the Truth of God in themselves, but as pointing, under the leading of the Spirit of Truth, to Jesus Christ himself who is the Truth. We have to recognize the fact, therefore, that the Scriptures indicate much more than can be expressed, and that there is much more to their truth than can be reduced to words.” Scriptures have their state of being in who God is, how He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ and the meaning of God’s action in the world for us.
MORE THAN WORDS ON A PAGE
More than a careful exegesis of the text.
‘You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me’ John 5,39 NIV. Idealogues use the scriptures to testify of themselves and ‘positions.’
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
I prefer to be instructed by scholars who are more than academics in Biblical textual analysis. I do not find biblicism a reliable guide to a life in God because its leaning is to treat words about God as if they are God. The Bible is not a hitching post for pre-conceived doctrines or denominational positions. The larger context of the words of God is the Living Word of God – the Christ of God. Ultimately the Word is Christ.
THE MEANING OF MEANING
The meaning of any passage of scripture is not restricted to the words on the page. The meaning of such words is found in the frame of being – of what God has done in Christ and who we are as people as a result of God’s incarnation in the world. Thomas Torrance is correct when he observes that “In pointing away from themselves to the truth they serve .. their objectivity [is] grounded beyond themselves on reality that is independent of them.” The words on the page point to a larger reality that is Christ the Word. Christ the Word incarnate in the world and incarnated in the Church and our lives.
THE WORD IS CHRIST
‘For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires’ HEB 4.12 NIV. This is the word that is not ‘the letter’ but the Light of Life.
The meaning of scripture is always found in the being of Christ. Reality is Christ and scripture is subordinate to this Reality and gets its true meaning from the Reality who is Christ.
BIGGER ON THE INSIDE
A genuine Gospel of the Kingdom makes us bigger than we are. Never smaller.
A dysfunctional feature of fundamentalist portrayals of Christianity is its dualism/reductionism. In this distortion, the Word who is God, can be reduced to words about God and the oneness that has been secured for us in Christ becomes obscured in favour or an assumed, innate separation between God and humanity. This is astonishing when we consider that God is the ground of our being and that the essence of the cross is the undoing of Adamic separation from God and the inclusion of Believers in the Communion that is the Holy Family.
‘Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ John 14.23 NIV.
LIVED IN BY GOD
Friends once reported to me that the message of a conference was that we need to make ourselves a habitation of God. I did not know then, what I know now that all who believe are inhabited by God in His fullness. We are incarnated with God.
RIGHT WAY UP
Should we remain in a common dualistic view, Christianity will be seen as the project of achieving the union with God – that is already ours. In a perverse reduction of our inheritance, acceptance with God is thought to be achieved through good works, moralism, the law, the routines of religion and signs and wonders. In this frame the sacraments may be misinterpreted as gaining us oneness with God. In the frame of atonement and incarnation the sacraments are a celebration of the oneness with God THAT IS ALREADY OURS.
UN-WHOLENESS AS RELIGION
Dualism, surfaces in cliches like ‘What would Jesus do.’ This assumes a dichotomy between the Believer and Christ. With Christ as your life you will know what Jesus would do and express His life where you are.
Dualism is seen in the notion of sacred and secular that never really held up in the old testament and certainly does not in the reconciliation and oneness that is ours as the basis of New Testament life.
Dualism is seen in the attachment to Sabbath-keeping in some sections of the church. Here people may rely on the externality of a Sabbath Day for life, rather than resting in Christ as their Sabbath life.
Dualism surfaces dramatically in the positing of a cosmic Great Controversy in certain sects - an ultimate dualism akin to the battle between light and darkness of Zoroastrianism. In this paradigm the two have not been made one and the cross is apparently assumed to be without consequence for the healing of the cosmos.
Dualism places too much emphasis on the Second Coming when Jesus modelled God with us in the flesh and gifted us Christ come in our flesh personally. Heaven has come to earth in the incarnated you.
Dualism suggests a divided Christ. Should we live from the law and assume that Jesus is the upholder of the law, because law is of the essence of who God in Christ is, we are supposing that there is part of Christ that is person and part that is the abstraction of the law. The truth is that Christ is not divided. His person and His qualities are who Christ is. I AM is a unity in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
ONENESS, WHOLENESS AND HOLINESS
Oneness has become ours in the oneness that is the Christ of God. Wholeness and the healing of our fragmented being comes to us from Christ the Whole Person who is our life. “In Jesus Christ . . . his Person and his Work are one. What he does is not something separate from his personal Being and what he is in his own incarnate Person is the mighty Act of God’s love for our salvation.
Christ and his Gospel belong ontologically and inseparably together, for that is what he is. He who brings, actualises and embodies the Gospel of reconciliation between God and man and man and God in his own Person.
In him the Incarnation and Atonement are one and inseparable, for atoning reconciliation falls within the incarnate constitution of his Person as Mediator, and it is on that ground and from that source that atoning reconciliation embraces all mankind and is freely available to every person.” (1) The assumption that Christ represents the law and is an expression of the law denudes Him of His ‘Godness’ and humanity suggesting a false christ. The result is that this denies us transformation from His incarnation.
(1) Martin M Davis in, T F Torrance, The Atonement. Pt 4.