Monday, August 15, 2011

God equates Scripture with Himself

We were studying Galatians 3 on Sunday, and as our pastor read through it, I noticed for the first time that in verse 8 the word Scripture is used basically as a synonym for God. Here is the passage:

Galatians 3:5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

It says the Scripture 'forsees' and the Scripture 'preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand'. The Scripture, as in written scripture, was not written yet, but God Himself spoke to Abraham and gave the promise that through him all the nations would be blessed. In this passage the Holy Spirit teaches that God's word is synonymous with Himself. In Psalm 138:2 it says: I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name. Apparently God considers scripture to be an extension of Himself.

31 comments:

Liet Kynes said...

If the scriptures were synonymous or an extension of with God Himself, you had better be taking your bible putting it on a throne and worshiping it. As no one in their right mind would consider it proper at all to worship a book, we know that you are misreading the text. (btw saying that it is not equated but is an extension doesn't rescue you as that would be a violation of the principle of God's utter simplicity).


You are jumping to conclusions here. Just because a text says "foresees" that does not mean that it is God. The text "foresees" as well as "preached" in an anthropomorphic sense. Looking at the concordance, I don't like the usage of the English "preached" for the greek proeuaggelizomai (technically this word comes out as "preached the gospel beforehand") as it truncates the meaning too much, but this is neither here nor there. What is important is that scripture is an inanimate object and thus it cannot "foresee" or "preach".


One of the keys to understanding this passage as well as others of Paul's is to understand Paul's modus operandi for preaching the Gospel. Paul is deeply concerned with showing how Christ fulfills what is contained in the Jewish scriptures. The Judaizer movement was teaching that the Law itself, and Judaism, was what constituted a full and proper relationship with God. Paul's position is that the Law, and Judaism, prepared for in demonstrable ways what which is found complete in Christ and the Church. This is one of those passages. Paul is trying to hammer home that Christ and His Church is the way by showing how the scriptures foretell of salvation through Christ and that Christians should not be returning to those Jewish practices which were only appropriate for ones who were were waiting in hope.


What Paul is doing is saying, "Look at your scriptures and see that they "preach and foresee" that which we have found to be realized in Christ and His Church". Paul is not meaning that when Abraham was alive that, what his audience knew as the scriptures preached to Him concerning this. What Paul is saying is that his contemporary audiance can look at their contemporary scriptures and see that what was written about Abraham is now fullfilled in Christ.


To consider that Paul is equating the scripture text to God is really to go against everything that is Paul's Christology because it takes the focus off of the person of Jesus and places it upon that which prefigures Him.

Jennie said...

Liet,
Thank you for commenting.
I didn't say that the Bible is God. I said that God equates His word (and I would include spoken or written) with Himself. His word comes forth from Him and it says "You have magnified Your Word above all Your name".
So, we don't bow down to the physical book, just as we don't bow down to our pastors when they speak the Word. We worship God in our hearts as we receive His word by reading or hearing it. We may bow down to pray, but we don't bow to the Bible, but to God Himself. He dwells in each believer and is all around us too.

Jennie said...

If you look at the first few verses of John 1, and of 1 John 1 also, you will see that Christ is called the Word of God, and the Word of Life. The Scriptures are the word that came forth from God by the Holy Spirit and reveals Christ. Christ is the Word that came forth by the Holy Spirit and reveals the Father. The Trinity is One. The Scriptures are not really the ink and paper and leather, but are the very meaning and heart and wisdom and understanding of God. When we read them, the Holy Spirit works in us directly and reveals the Son and the Father to us, and glorifies God. That's my understanding of it.

Jennie said...

As no one in their right mind would consider it proper at all to worship a book

Liet,
Of course as I said before I don't worship a book, but I worship the one revealed there. I would say in turn, "As no one in their right mind would consider it proper to worship a piece of bread" then Catholics must be misunderstanding several texts, such as John 6 and the Lord' Supper passages. Jesus is called the Word of God, but we don't worship the Scriptures that portray Him. Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life, but we don't worship the bread that portrays Him. The Scriptures came forth from the Holy Spirit; people make copies of them and read and teach from them; the Holy Spirit works in our hearts directly from the hearing and reading of the word.
In the same way, the Holy Spirit teaches us to "Do this in remembrance of Me [Christ]"; people make bread and wine and these are blessed and given out; the Holy Spirit works in our hearts directly from the obedience to His command to eat and drink in this way. But we should not worship these means, but worship the One that they portray.

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Jennie,


You said that scripture is "a synonym for God" and "God considers scripture to be an extension of Himself". This cannot be correct.


If scripture is synonymous or an extension of God Himself, then it must be worshiped. Given that you don't worship the book, indicates that you do not actually believe that scripture is synonymous with God. Your very actions undo your whole argument.


Part of the problem that I see going on in your argument is that there is a desire to truncate the Word of God to the text of scripture. You practically have to in order for you to hold to sola scriptura. If we pay close attention to the New Testament, we notice three basic concepts: The Word of God, the Gospel, the scriptures. These are not synonymous concepts. When Paul speaks of the scriptures, he is almost primarily meaning the Jewish sacred writings though this is much broader based than how we would think of the Old Testament today. Paul and the other New Testament writers have no concern about "authorative original texts" because they quote freely between both the more established Greek Septuagint and the less established and more restricted hebrew only "canon" (I put quotes here because the canon question was not at this time resolved for those that were arguing for a hebrew only OT).


The lack of concern over a precise formal definition of what was and what was not scripture during a time when amongst the Jewish communities (Sadducee, Pharisee, Judaic Jew, Diaspora Jew, Essen, etc. had overlapping but different sets of books which were considered to be scripture) really is a strong indicator that one should not be equating, limiting, or truncating the Word of God, and the Gospel, to a set of specific tests. The scriptures tell us about, but are not, the Gospel or the Word of God.


It should also be clear from reading the New Testament that none of the authors equate the term The Gospels to either the New Testament, the synoptics, or John. The Gospel message is a much broader concept to the point where we can only say that the written gospels contain but are not the totality of that message. At its core, "to preach the Gospel" is to communicate the person of Christ to other people -- not simply a message or a belief system. Paul's endeavor is not to get people to hold as true certain tenants but for them to rather receive Christ and the Spirit so that they might live in and through them with the Father. To "confess that Jesus is Lord" for Paul is not to hold as true certain points in the intellect but rather it is to live out the Gospel through one's daily work. To live out the Gospel is to have so received the Word of God that ones own life becomes a manifestation of the life of Christ in this world -- it is not I who live but Christ. In doing so, ones own life becomes another instance of God's own self communication to other people.


When it comes to the Word of God as God's "speech" and the Word of God as the Second Person of the Trinity, I think we need to be careful here. In the NT, the WORD in "WORD OF GOD" actually points to two different Greek words. RHEMA and LOGOS. These are different concepts: rhema is a concept of speech and logos is a concept of thought and idea especially communicated. For example we could say that RHEMA is the letter of the law -- it is what was said. Logos is the spirit of the law -- it is the idea that was meant.

Liet Kynes said...

Thus when we speak of the Word of God we can be talking about what the Spirit has communicated, what the Son has communicated, or what the Father has communicated. Or we can speak of the Word of God in terms of it being the Logos of the Father and when doing so we do not mean that the Spirit is the Word of the Father nor the Word of the Son, or that the Father is the Word of the Spirit nor the Son, nor that the Son is the Word of the Son or the Spirit. Only the Son is the Word of the Father.


When we say that the scripture is the word of God, do we mean that scripture is the Logos of God, ie the Son? No. We mean that the scripture is the RHEMA of God, and more specifically we mean that it is the RHEMA of the Spirit for we understand that the person of the Trinity who is the author of the text is the Spirit and it is from the Spirit that the texts were produced. Futher we do not mean that scripture is the totality of the word of God nor the totality of the RHEMA of the Spirit. Rather it is only that aspect of the word of God that ended up getting written down for "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction". Of course the RHEMA of the Spirit reveals to us the RHEMA of the Son and invites us to communion with Him who is the LOGOS of the Father and as LOGOS the heart of what the Father's RHEMA is.


So anyway these biblical concepts of scripture, gospel, and word of God are much more expansive than what you have put forth. They also cannot be interchanged, made synonymous, or called an extension of God's own person. Scripture, gospel, rhema of God communicate to us God but they are simply vehicles by which we are called to and arrive at the Father's own self revelation and communicating of Himself in the Logos.

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Jennie,


The Orthodox and Catholic worship of the Eucharist is internally consistent. As they believe that it is Christ and not bread, they worship that which they consider to be the Son of God Himself. Thus it would be wholly improper for an Orthodox or a Catholic, who believes that there is no bread there, to not worship.


What you are putting forth is not consistent. You said that we should consider that scripture is a synonym for God and that God considers scripture to be an extension of Himself and yet you refuse to worship scripture. Those are not consistent beliefs to hold.


Even if objectively wrong, the Orthodox and Catholic understanding of the Eucharist cannot be understood as a misunderstanding of the text precisely because the belief predates the writing of the text itself. If we look at the New Testament we see that there are constant references to Christian liturgy that exists as its own separate and independent function. The NT is commenting on something that predates it and is independent from scripture. It took a little while before Christians began to write down full texts of the liturgical worship, but there are constant references so by the time that you get to get to the 2nd century where full texts start to be written it is very clear that early Christian worship involved worship of the Eucharist as Christ.


In order to argue that the Orthodox and Catholics are wrong, one must actually argue that the actual practices of the early Christian communities as recorded in scripture are wrong.


The Apostle John's very own deciple, who was trained by and who sat at his feet wrote this "They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again." Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to Smyrnaeans, 7,1 (c. A.D. 110).


Ignatius believed that the Eucharist is Christ. He believes this because he was taught this by the Apostle John. Ignatius was also a bishop, which means that he lead the liturgy and preached in a manner that was consistant with promoting worship of the Eucharist during the Christian liturgy.

Because it is fully logical and rationally to believe that the way the Apostle John lead his community was consistant with the way the other apostles lead their communities, we must conclude that Eucharistic worship was present not just in the Apostle John's community but in all Apostolic communities. As such, the NT itself is describing apostolic communities where there was Eucharistic worship.

Again to argue that the Orthodox and Catholics are wrong, one must argue that the human authors of scripture did not practice authentic Christianity.

Christine said...

Hi Jennie - I've tried to comment several times over the last few weeks, but it never worked. Hope you are doing well.

Liet - are you the same person as our friend Anon? Your last sentence above, if allowed to sink in, is profound in its implications. Very well stated and I've never heard it put quite that simply.

I'm trying to think what argument could be made against it, other than Protestants ascribing no authority of any kind to the writings of the Fathers apart from the canon of Scripture. Not even from those taught directly by the apostles, such as Ignatius.

For anyone who wondered what happened with my mom and rehab - dismal failure BUT I learned a lot and Al-Anon concepts are SO helpful, and not just for addiction issues.

Jennie said...

Hi Christine,
It's good to see you here. I don't know what happened to your comments. I checked the spam file, but it's empty, and I haven't seen any of your comments in my email; I have it set so new comments come to my email. Just keep trying. You can also email me by clicking on the link on my profile page.

I'm sorry to hear about your mom's rehab. I have been wondering how it went and how you are doing. I will continue to pray for you and for her.
Pray for me, too. I'm still sticking out the counseling and will share more about it.

I also was wondering if Liet might be Anon, but don't know.

Jennie said...

Liet,
I haven't forgotten you, but haven't been able to give your comments the time they deserve yet. Forgive me; I'll take the time in the next day or two. I have to limit my time here, since I tend to use it as an escape from reality and neglect my duties, if I'm not careful :)

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Christine,


It is a pretty common argument in Protestantism that Christianity went off the rails pretty early on. Thus it is not really a question of arguing against my point but rather of how closely a Protestant wants to embrace it. You can find this especially in the writings of Baptists/Anabaptists who believe that the written record of Christianity from the first few centuries represents the pagan corruption that immediately devoured the Church. The "real" Church then existed as a persecuted minority that left no written records (or they were destroyed) until the reemergence of the true Church during the Reformation.


It really is a question of how much do Protestants want to say that first generation Christian practice was wrong. Can one really go to the point of saying that even the Apostolic practice was wrong but the Spirit managed to get recorded in scripture the truth that would only reimmerge publically at the time of the Reformation?


It is not a dissimilar argument to what is made by Muslims, Mormons, gnostics, and several other groups who try to construct their belief system by saying that the oral and written record of Christianity represents falsehood and that they have the true secret and hidden message of God that was lost.


You can also find this idea amongst liberal progressive Christians -- that what the early Christians thought that Christianity meant was is incorrect and not what the meaning really was. For example you can see this in the writings of the Catholic exegete Fr. Raymond Brown who distinguishes between what scripture MEANT to the early Christians and what it should MEAN to us now. In other words the meaning of scripture is not what the authors thought it meant.


But anyway to back things up a bit, we do have a written record of the beliefs, practices, and theology of first generation Christians. It is not a giant systematic tome or anything, but one can still paint a picture of early Christianity. We often forget that the Apostles were active and taught others and records do in fact exists of what was thought, taught, and practiced by first and second generation Christians.

Liet Kynes said...

Sola scriptura functions as a buttress not as a foundation to Protestantism. Sola scriptura doesn't develop in Luther's thought until after the Diet of Worms (Luther's statement at Worms is not sola scriptura even though it is often claimed to be such). Luther lost the debate at Worms because he couldn't defend his position by using ecclesial sources or the Church Fathers. Because Luther was so sure he was reading the bible correctly, his only move was to claim that everyone else was wrong hence his statement Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Because we know that both sides were quoting scripture at Worms and so do the ecclesial sources and the Church Fathers, we know that Luther is not captive to scripture but rather captive to what his conscience says is the meaning of the text -- everyone else can go pound sand. As of note Luther's disciple Melanchthon recognized that Luther's move to simply ignore the early Church was untenable and he worked hard, though unsuccessfully to find a basis for Lutheranism in the early Church. He along with others from the university of Tübingen attempted and failed to ground out Lutheranism through dialogue with the Ecumenical Patriarch Joseph II and attempting to get Orthodoxy to recognize Lutheranism as part of historical Christianity.


So anyway within Protestantism there exists this impasse -- the desire to be historical Christianity and the desire not to be tied down to the historical practices of Christianity.


The burning question in Protestantism is where do Orthodox and Catholics "go off the reservation". If that point can be determined, than everything before that is "safe" and can be embraced by Protestants as Christianity. The problem is though that every time one draws a line and says that "unbiblical" practice X entered the Church at this date, you can find that practice prior. A lot of really serious "Catholic" practices are located within the Apostolic Church.


Anyway I think I have gone on too long here and have gotten away from the point of my origional post.

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Christine,


I am sorry to hear about your mom. I shall say a prayer.

Christine said...

Thanks for the prayers!

Liet - this part of what you said had occurred to me also, because it seems the ONLY way out for sola scriptura Protestants: "Can one really go to the point of saying that even the Apostolic practice was wrong but the Spirit managed to get recorded in scripture the truth. . ."

Jennie - I was only having problems when trying to comment on your older post with the 250+ comments, and didn't have any trouble on this one. So - who knows? It's working now :)

Jennie said...

If scripture is synonymous or an extension of God Himself, then it must be worshiped. Given that you don't worship the book, indicates that you do not actually believe that scripture is synonymous with God. Your very actions undo your whole argument

Liet,
Here's another way of looking at it. If my father writes me a letter to give me information he wants me to know, advice he wants me to heed, and sends his love, I don't think the paper and ink IS my father, but I think of the words as coming from his heart and mind and as something I need to take to heart and value greatly. We should honor our fathers, and much more we should honor and worship God and value His word as part of Him; as expressing His heart.

Jennie said...

So, the letter makes me know my father's love, and increases my love, and I also obey the letter and try to please him. So, I don't honor the paper and ink, but it reminds me of him and helps me remember what he wants of me and how I should live. If I can't be with my father, the letter is valued because it came from him, just like the bible is valued and loved because of the comfort and help the words give. We know they come from our Father in heaven.

Jennie said...

It also could be kind of like how a woman cherishes her husband's love letters, and she actually might kiss them and hold them if she can't be with her husband for some reason. Some people do cherish their bibles and treat them lovingly. But it's not worship, it's because the words inside are precious as coming from God.

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Jennie,


The problem is that a letter from your father is neither your father nor an extension of himself. It simply is a recorded record of his speech. It also doesn't give the totality of who your father is or what he is about. Further there will be much in those letters that can only be filled in by an individual who has had a personal experience with your father. That letter in the hands of a complete strange with a very different background from yours is going to provide less information about who your father is than the letter does for yourself because only one with experience with your father understands the nuances that reveal at a deeper level who he is.


Let me take your example and flip it around. When a woman reads her husbands love letters, she is recalling and remembering her husband. However powerful those memories the letter itself is not her husband. She is simply remembering and the idea of who he is as a person is in her mind. She does not actually think or consider that the letter itself is synonymous with her husband or that it is an extension of his person. When she is with the letter she is not actually with her husband, rather she is with the Logos of his ideas that is contained in the written rhema of his speech.


Here we can see clearly that the letter itself exists as a vehicle for, but not actually synonymous with, the logos of his ideas. Scripture functions in the same way -- it is not synonymous with God nor an extension of Himself but rather as a vehicle to reveal the logos to people. (this is why scripture contains revelation but is not itself revelation).


Yes I know its complex but seeing things this way helps us to not over emphasize scripture beyond what it should be. Scripture is great and wonderful and profound and "ignorance of it is ignorance of Christ", but it is most definitly not God. Too often I find Protestants treating scripture as if it was a love letter from their Father who is far far away. It is what they remember their bridegroom by until he returns in glory. That is not what happened -- God did not go away, the bridegroom didn't leave the bride at the altar at the last minute. (Have you ever noticed that even Protestants will say "left at the altar" when there are no altars in Protestant buildings?)

Liet Kynes said...

BTW in understanding that only the bride truly understands the logos of the bridegroom's rhema recorded in his love letters to her, Orthodoxy and Catholicism is setup so that the individual Christian is not to read the scriptures outside of the context of the Church. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and it is only she who understands the Logos of the Rhema of scripture. Thus the individual must read scripture with the Bride.

I am sure that you can see that with the distinction between Logos and Rhema, which is a biblical distinction, that one cannot hold to the perspicuity of scripture.

Christine said...

Jennie - Liet is not saying that Catholics are not to read the bible ourselves, as has been a constant false accusation against the Church. Instead, note that he says rightly that to read it outside of the CONTEXT of the Church is to risk the problems associated with individual interpretations that divide Christians as we see in Protestantism.

We've discussed this so many times, but there's no way around the fact that there was a Church, and there was orthodoxy, and there was authoritative teaching before there was a canon of Scripture. The canon was discerned within that same CONTEXT of the Church's teaching authority.

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Christine

Right. Besides the example of the love letter – that only the beloved truly can understand the full depth of what the lover is saying to her – if you look at religion simply from a mechanical point of view, you have to safeguard the interpretation of the religious texts from false interpretations. The only way to safeguard any text is to preclude interpretation by the individual in some fashion.

Many, but not all Protestants would suggest that the Spirit illuminates certain individuals so that they can understand the Logos of the text, and if they are not so illuminated they will not be able to understand the Logos of the text. This is all well and good and Catholics believe the same. However this is not perspicuity of scripture. The problem for the Protestant is that there is no check and balance – sola scriptura makes it impossible to determine whose interpretation is from the Spirit and whose interpretation is according to the flesh. Everything in Protestantism is dependent upon scripture and nothing exists as an independent sources to check if ones interpretation is correct. Because scripture alone is the word of God (God’s rhema) everything else is simply what is assumed to be a correct interpretation. In order to check an interpretation, other forms of God’s word must exist in an independent manner and better yet God’s word must still be being said new and fresh to each generation in a living manner. But sola scriptura prevents having other rhema – there is only the rhema of scripture.

Instead of fleshing out how Catholicism is radically different in how God’s word is not limited to scripture – and thus interpretations can be checked, I want to tie what I just said back to Jennie’s thought that the bible is synonymous and/or an extension of God’s own person.

Because God’s word is so limited and God no longer speaks and all that remains is what was spoken, there is without a doubt a strong need to see scripture as not just God’s word, but more so the embodiment of God’s own person. Louis Bouyer once commented that sola scriptura is often taken as if God became paper. This was not said in a snarky or backhanded sort of way but as an attempt to draw out that what often is going on is that there is a quazi-incarnational understanding to how the bible is God’s word. I find that Jennie’s post fully reflects that sentimentality.

Why don’t I like this thought and why don’t I think that Protestant theology should seek after this line of reasoning as being orthodox? Because as much as I enjoy my beloved’s love letters, they are not her. As much as I enjoy scripture, it is not God. If my focus is only on the text and I am so devoted to the text and I so elevate the text, I will become so caught up in the book that I will not see the God whom is right before me and to whom the scriptures point. It is fully possible to turn God's word into an idol. The Jews did it, so can Christians.

Moonshadow said...

This is such a no-brainer but I'm glad you saw it for yourself. That makes it more meaningful.

I've always seen it in the latter half of Proverbs 8: God's Wisdom, God's Word, Jesus, at creation.

I'm not into mysticism, but I believe that Jewish mysticism gets into this point - the close association between God and His Word - more fully. One time, I heard an explanation for the strange passage in John 1:48, when Jesus says he saw Nathanael under the fig tree. Presumably, Nathanael had been reading Scripture - or some other enlightenment - under the fig tree and Jesus, the Word, was present with him there. Look at the confession Nathanael makes after: Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

Tree of life - Wiki.

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Moonshadow,


It is important from a Catholic view of scriptures to see that the written word of God as contained in the scriptures is something that is distinct from the Word of God proper. The scriptures are the Word of God that comes to us through the medium of human thoughts, words, and especially the structure and prose of written language. We indirectly come into contact with the thought of God as we have to pass through something which is very human (written human language and thought) in order to arrive at the Word. Scripture is a springboard the propels us forward to encounter the Father's true and definitive revelation of Himself which is found without intermediately in the incarnate Son, Jesus our Lord.


For us Catholics, scripture is not, nor can it ever be solely sufficient because that would be to supplant the place that Christ's holds with an inanimate object. The Protestant attempt to so tie the word of Scripture to the Word that is the Son actually undermines both the validity of the Gospel message as well as the uniqueness of Christ. When the Word is reduced to a written text, the Gospel becomes something not that brings life but brings death. When the Gospel is only that which is written, it functions no differently than the Law and both serve only to delineate those that are in obedience from those who are not. When the Word is synonymous (and thus limited) to the text of scripture this diminishes the uniqueness of Christ because the uniqueness of Christ is found in the personal encounter with God in the flesh. We encounter God flesh to flesh not according to our intellectual response to text written by another human individual (as inspired as that individual may be).


To be sure there is a very close association between God and scripture -- for scripture is the written rhema of the Word. And scripture is worthy of liturgical devotion greater than most Protestants give it (if you observe an Orthodox/Catholic high service and a Protestant one, the acknowledgement of scripture as God's word is done with such great ritual and devotion and the text itself is treated as a holy text by sign deed and word.). But this great devotion is not something which supplants the adoration which we give to Christ, to whom alone our knees bow during the Mass. We do not prostrate ourselves during the Liturgy of the Word but only during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, because the Word of Scripture is what prepares our hearts and minds to come into the Eucharistic presence of the Son of God.

Moonshadow said...

Liet Kynes said It is important from a Catholic view ...

To approach the Scriptures in the spirit in which they were written, primarily. That is, what the author intended to say.

What does John mean in 1:48? Was Jesus spying at Nathanael from across the way or is something deeper (ontological/christological) intended?

Caveat: I haven't read any of the preceding comments to this post and won't be able to read any lengthly reply, Liet. My apologies in advance. Peace.

Jennie said...

The text "foresees" as well as "preached" in an anthropomorphic sense....What Paul is doing is saying, "Look at your scriptures and see that they "preach and foresee" that which we have found to be realized in Christ and His Church". Paul is not meaning that when Abraham was alive that, what his audience knew as the scriptures preached to Him concerning this. What Paul is saying is that his contemporary audiance can look at their contemporary scriptures and see that what was written about Abraham is now fullfilled in Christ.

Liet,
I'm a bit behind here, so bear with me. I understand your point of view here, and see that it can be read that way, but I also think it can arguably be read the way I said in my post. It seems to me that both can be true. Certainly scripture speaks to us today, and spoke in Paul's time, but ONLY because God first spoke to Abraham in person as the Word, and then later inspired Moses to write what happened. To God it is all present, and we can be present there with Him by the Holy Spirit through Scripture. It is all one. God is in all times. To me Scripture is the voice of God, the heart of God revealed to us. The Word of God is Christ, and the scriptures (not the ink and paper, but the meaning) are His power; the same power that spoke and created the world. It speaks and re-creates us by faith.

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Moonshadow,


I will try to keep this quite short.


To read scripture in the spirit in which it was written is to read it in the ecclesial spirit which is much more extensive than trying to discern what the author intended to say. Reading scripture in the spirit is going beyond historical criticism and literal criticism (though it includes these things in their proper form) and to begin to approach the text not as something by which, through intellectually brut force, we can pull forth the meaning of the text, but where we approach in humility to learn, have revealed to us, and to become inebriated by the Spirit which vivifies the totality of the Christian life.


What does John 1:48 mean?


The key is to understand the symbolism of the fig. The fig tree represents safety and security, especially for a nomadic people in an arid climate. (cf. 1Ki 4:25) Nathanael is doubting Philip that Jesus is the messiah. Why? Because the SCRIPTURES do not indicate Nazareth as the place where the messiah would come. Nathanael is thus "sitting under the fig tree" of the scripture, being secure in what he knows and ignoring the rest of what Philip says so he doesn't have to "take a leap of faith". Jesus' response is thus to call Nathanael on this and to suggest to him to move beyond the safety of the text of scripture (the fig tree). Nathanael's response is to go a bit over board and Jesus' response is actually quite humorous, basically "I tell you to loosen up and you do this? Wait until I get going."


The point of what is going on in this passage is that Nathanael is stuck on a very literal understanding of scripture (which many Jews would later be as well). The messiah was not to come from Nazereth as such Nathanael ignores what Philip has to say. In this passage, Nathanael's disbelief comes from scripture and it is only in moving beyond a literal interpretation of the text that Nathanael can have faith that Jesus is the King of Israel.

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Jennie,


From my vantage point, everyone desires to be close to God. Because in Protestantism -- especially amongst the Baptists every activity of the Christian life is only an remembrance of what God once did, scripture takes on this function of somehow, as you said, making us "present there with Him by the Holy Spirit". The Orthodox and Catholic understanding of how we get close to God is much more holistic. Being close to God is to participate and live in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church. God is present to us in manifold ways but chiefly and primarily in the Eucharist, which is the heart of the Christian life.


You said: The scriptures (not the ink and paper, but the meaning) are His power.


This is a wholly novel thing to my ears, so is this your idea or has someone else suggested this, and if so whom? I do not agree that "the scriptures" means "His power" nor that the scriptures are "the meaning" behind the text and not the text itself. The word of God, passed from generation to generation orally, is a vastly different thing that what was written down. That is why it is called "the writings" after all.


Let us try something here. Starting at #2 on Dei Verbum go until you get to something that you disagree with and tell us what why. Continue on until you get to second thing. Tell us what and why. Continue on until you get to the third thing. Tell us what and why. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html


This will help me to understand you better as to why you are so tied with seeing the scriptures being synonymous with or an extension of God.

Jennie said...

This is such a no-brainer but I'm glad you saw it for yourself. That makes it more meaningful.

I've always seen it in the latter half of Proverbs 8: God's Wisdom, God's Word, Jesus, at creation.


Hi Teresa, it's good to see you! Are you agreeing with me? Yay! Actually, I've also seen this in other places in scripture, but hadn't noticed that place in Galatians before.
Don't know if I'm completely accurate in saying Scripture isn't the physical book made of paper and ink, but is rather the meaning and power that is conveyed in the words. But that is how I understand it the best, and that's what I mean when I say 'Scripture'. I think that's also what God means when He speaks of His 'word' or all the synonyms used in Psalm 119, for example, to refer to it.

Jennie said...

Liet,
I'll try to look at the link you gave on Dei Verbum and comment on it. I can't take as much time on this as I used to, because as I've said, it takes away from my duties at home.

I haven't read all the comments all the way through yet, so bear with me. Thanks!

Liet Kynes said...

Dear Jennie,

You said But that is how I understand it the best, and that's what I mean when I say 'Scripture'.

This epitomizes one of the existential differences between Catholicism/Orthodoxy and Protestantism. In Catholicism/Orthodoxy, what scripture is, is not determined by the individual, nor is it something that is determined by a majority of people agreeing on a definition, nor is it a determination made by those who hold power. What scripture is, is determined by its own very nature. To get into this at a sufficient enough level will be simply to rehash the philosophical presuppositions that make a Protestant not a Catholic which is way too long winded for this thread. In short, Protestants are philosophically what they are because they believe that the meaning of a thing is determined in one of several ways by the one who experiences that thing.

Christine said...

Interesting discussion regarding some of these issues about scripture on Called to Communion. A review of a book called "The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture".