Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Hermeneutic of Love, or How I Read the Bible (Part 2)

Last week I started writing about how I believe the love of God and our love for God and people should be a lens for interpreting Scripture. Today I want to add to that the idea that as we read the Bible, we must keep in mind that Jesus is what God looks like.

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) And Hebrews 1:3 states that Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”

In other words, to know Jesus, is to know the Father. When God wanted to reveal himself to us in the flesh, in the incarnation, he sent Jesus. And the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus shows the outrageous love of God for us.

In the midst of all my questions and doubts, this is what keeps my faith grounded: knowing that God is love and God looks like Jesus. It's the truth I hold onto and come back to time and time again.

This is why I attempt to read the Bible Christocentrically, and part of what this means is that I look to Jesus to know the character of God.

Peter Enns, Christian Smith, and Derek Flood, are just a few of the authors I have read recently who make this same case for the need to interpret Scripture through a Jesus-shaped lens.

And this is not a new idea. Derek Flood points back to Karl Barth who made God’s self-revelation in Jesus the center of his theology and anchored his multi-volume work, Church Dogmatics, in this idea.

John 1:1 is talking about Jesus when it says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And John 1:14 says, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Greg Boyd draws our attention to the fact that Jesus was not just one of the words of God, but the only Word to which all other words of God point. Jesus confirmed this when he told the religious leaders of his day that all Scripture bears witness to him and that he is the “life” of Scripture (John 5:39-40). So Jesus is the Word to which all other inspired words point:
"And whatever else we take this to mean, it implies that the revelation of God in Christ, thematically centered on the cross, must never be compromised by anything else we find in Scripture. This, unfortunately, is precisely what most Christians throughout history have done, and what most Christian to this day continue to do. We take portraits of God commanding genocide, sending the flood, slaughtering cities, etc., and place them alongside of the cross, and then say, “All of this reveals God.” - Greg Boyd
Back in the spring, I listened to this sermon by Brian Zahnd called, "Jesus is what God has to say". And Brian summarizes this all wonderfully:
"Jesus is the true and living Word of God. Jesus is what the Law and Prophets point toward and bow to. Jesus is what the Old Testament was trying to say, but could never fully articulate. Jesus is the perfect Word of God in the form of a human life. God couldn’t say all that he wanted to say in the form of a book, so God said it in the form of Jesus. Jesus is what God has to say!
The Law and the Prophets were the lesser lights in the pre-Christ night sky. They were the moon and stars. Israel could grope forward by their dim light; the Hebrews could navigate through the pagan night by these constellations. In a world of stygian darkness the moonlight and starlight emanating from the Torah and the Prophets made all the difference. Moonlight and starlight.
But with Christ morning has broken! The new day has dawned! The sun of righteousness has risen with healing in its rays!"
In conclusion, the Word is alive, the Word became flesh, and His name is Jesus. Praise be to God!

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