Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Hermeneutic Of Mystery

I can dig any interpretation of the Bible that maintains mystery at its center. It seems clear to me that whatever God, God is mysterious, and even God revealed remains shrouded in mystery. Even when we see God, we do not fully know what we see. The Bible is full of mystery. To deny this is, to me, to deny what is most plain about the text. I don't think I would be so into the Bible if it were not so mysterious. Can you accept that you will never fully understand that to which you relate? "You cannot plumb the depths of the human heart or grasp the workings of the human mind; how then can you fathom God, who has made all these things, or discern his mind, or understand his plan?"- Judith 8:14

Judith sounds about right to me. Everyone keeps using the Bible as if it is God's mind laid out in simple words for any person to understand. It isn't. That is not what it means to say the Bible is the Word of God. It is the Word of God spoken TO ME, right here and right now. It is a direct encounter with God. Plenary Inerrancy is a false doctrine because it puts God is a box. It is a form of idolatry, a subtle and dangerous form. Even when we talk about God in Jesus Christ, we are talking about an encounter with God, the same mysterious and unimaginable God that impinges into our experiences in the most subtle, wonderful, and numinous of ways. Jesus Christ is an encounter with God, as the Bible is. And it is a revelatory encounter. It tells us SOMETHING about God, but it does not tell us EVERYTHING about God.

We see this in the mysterious doctrines we must use to talk about our encounter with Christ. The Trinity, the Incarnation, these are hard to understand necessarily, because they are statements about God Himself, God as He is with us. Jesus is God. What does this mean? Many things. You can talk and talk about it but never finish expressing the idea. The revelation is to us, it is there for all of us to see. But seeing and understanding are two separate things.

And this is what it meant for people like Augustine and Luther when they talk about Jesus being the Word of God. It is not about some simplistic understanding of the Old Testament and then imposing that understanding on God, no. It is about the mysterious and wonderful encounter with Jesus Christ and understanding scripture to be that same kind of encounter.

Without mystery at its center, any hermeneutic is dead.

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