Word or words?: beyond biblical literalism



#7 Bible Study  John 1

Hello Lightworkers,

Some people claim that every word of the Bible is literally true, notwithstanding obvious   factual or moral contradictions. Others claim that the Bible is merely an ancient book with no sacred authority whatsoever.

I suggest a middle way between these two extremes.

If you like or respect somebody, or even if you are just curious, you catch the “drift” or the “vibe” of that person’s true nature. Some of what s/he says may be contradictory or obscure. Similarly, if you are intrigued by the creative spirit – the logos (as John calls it 1:1) , the divine life – you catch its message, although logically some details may be convoluted.  The Word of God (capital W) is not the same as the precise words (lower-case ‘w’) of the biblical writings.

John’s Gospel tells about the logos or God’s Word. Human language may be compared to an arrow. The arrow points to the sun, but the arrow is not, itself, the sun.

Biblical language may point to the divine – God, the Spirit. But the Bible was written by ancient people, whose own perspective was limited by their culture, beliefs, and so on. Thus, not every (human) word of the Bible is infallible. In fact, the divergences within the Bible can be rich and meaningful, rather than limiting– just as rough edges make someone’s face all the more beautiful.

We catch the vibe of spiritual inspiration as it shines out through words.

Consider:  A wise person, filled with the Spirit (and you are, too), is described by beloved friends in different, sometimes contradictory, ways.  Yet, you, as a wise and discerning person, will “catch the drift”,  and get a sense of who this incredible person is, despite the  multiple accounts. You will discern the divine Word (logos, creative principle)–that spark of aliveness, which persists amidst differences.

Similarly, we may discern the logos or operative creativity within the Bible and behind all of its sprawling complexity. We may appreciate its diverse contents without requiring that its message be reduced to the literal level of meaning.

Note on the text:

Last time we looked at the opening of John and discussed how the creative Word is the logos or principle of order in the universe.

“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

According to John, the Word is both “with” God and it is (equivalent to) God or a constituent of God. It is this Word that God used, in creating the entire universe (in Genesis 1). The Word may be compared to a person’s hand, which is both a constituent of a person – of the same nature as her/him – and an instrument, with which s/he brings things into being and takes action.

The Word is creative and gives life.

Hi All, We’ll focusing on the Gospel of John, for around another month, so subscribe (left column, folder icon, then insert your email address) if you’d like to follow this topic. You can subscribe to receive the posts immediately or weekly.  We’re going slow at the start, but we will speed up, soon. 





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