Wednesday, January 26, 2011

God's Word Is An Event

Brian McLaren, in his book A New Kind of Christianity, has an interesting quote about exploring God's Word in the Bible:

"...the biblical text doesn't give us cement blocks and mortar with which to construct a building of certainty from the ground up. It gives us a bunch of hammers and chisels in the form of stories and questions. With these tools we chip away at human constructions, and revelation is like the breeze or shaft of light that streams through the cracks. The Word, or Self-Revealing of God, in this light, isn't a bunch of lessons, morals, doctrines, or beliefs that God dictates or otherwise encodes. It is an event, a turning point, a breaking open, a discovery, a transforming and humbling and ennobling encounter that occurs to readers when they engage with the text in faith - the text with all its tensions and unresolved issues intact.

To say that the Word (the message, meaning, or revelation) of God is in the biblical text, then, does not mean that you can extract verses or statements from the text at will and call them 'God's words.' It means that if we enter the text and feel the flow of its arguments, get stuck in its points of tension, and struggle with its unfolding plot in all its twists and turns, God's revelation can happen to us. We can reach the point that Job and company did at the end of the book, where, after a lot of conflicted human talk and a conspicuously long divine silence, we finally hear God's voice."

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