The Word of God Frame

topicBanner-bibleScripture played an important role in the DITB project. The RT practiced Dwelling in the Word in three passages from the Gospel of John during every team session. It is important to describe my theological perspective on scripture, its relationship to the Word of God, and how this established a necessity for practicing Dwelling in the Word as part of our increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity.

What is the Word of God? Not all Christians agree on the answer to this question. To some, the Word of God is synonymous with sixty-six books that form the canon of Christian scripture, thus leading them to a verbal dictation view of Biblical inspiration and a fixation with word studies. To others, the Word of God is a vague notion of human reason being guided by the ethics presented through the mythical Jesus.

I believe the Word of God is the direct interaction between God and humanity.[1] It comes in many forms–as many forms as there are people and cultures.[2] God is present in creation and calls all people into an infinitely deepening relationship with God, each other, and all of creation. The Scripture of the Hebrew people and the 1st century Christians is an accurate, reliable, formational collection of documents that records the authentic interaction of a specific group of people, operating within a specific social/political/theological framework (a variety of these throughout the 1400 years of its internal history) with the infinite God. Christians study the scripture in order to (1) encounter the Word of God as God is present in the reading/listening process, (2) examine and learn from the model of how the various people in the text interpreted and assimilated their encounter with God within their own context, (3) have the only access to the incarnate Jesus Christ in his historical context,[3] (4) share a common narrative that unifies and shapes each generation in continuity as the body of Christ, and (5) participate in the hope of the promised future in which, from which, and to which God calls us.

Two Biblical Models for Encountering the Word

The Church is Invited to Listen, Discern, and Follow

Our Story of Dwelling in the Word

This video will frame my understanding of the Word of God, how it relates to scripture, and how I handle scripture in this dissertation.

Footnotes

[1] The use of prepositions becomes precarious. By using the preposition between in this sentence it may seem to imply an ontological duality between God and creation. This is not my intention. I will argue throughout this paper for the necessity of God’s otherness-in-relation to us. There could be no communication without the otherness of God’s authorship of the Word. However, I will argue momentarily that God is present within both the Symbol and the Medium of the Word, and it is in this storying that we are constituted.

[2] Here I am alluding to a particularist and nominalist leaning similar to that proposed by Kelsey and John Scotus Duns. God is not a universal abstract idea, but is the ground of being that is manifest in each particularity of the universe. I temper this with relationality and entanglement theory to say that these particularities are not isolated, but are unified in their constitutive interdependence with all other particularities. Thus, the universal essence of God is not a monolithic oneness, but is the beautiful tapestry of the entangled particularities.

[3] This statement opens up the Christological conversation. The incarnation of the Word had to be a particular incarnation in the person of one, singular human being. That is the only way to be fully human. Thus, Jesus had to be either male or female, Jew or one of the various Gentile ethnic groups, in the Roman Empire or any other part of History, etc. To say yes to the one particularity of the incarnation was to—in the sense of particularity—say no to all other options. This exclusion was not exclusivistic, but ontologically necessary for the particularity of incarnation. Without the particularity of the incarnation we do not have access to the Word of God embodied in it fullest human form. We do not have the image of God the symbol of a life fully abiding with God the Father. Without this we ultimately have no access to the Trinity in relational terms. Without the exclusion of the incarnation we cannot embrace the differences of the various particularities that constitute the world. Further, without the incarnate Word of God emptying himself on the cross and showing us the way of the Father, we do not have the Gospel of Reconciliation and that which will harmonize the particularities into the symphony of God’s Promised and Preferred future. See Newbigin on election. Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 86-87.

 

2 thoughts on “The Word of God Frame”

  1. If the praxis of spiritual formation is to have our feet washed by Jesus and if spiritual formation for us is is about dwelling and being formed into fruit then it seems that our first task is simply to be receptive vessels for these things to take place. In Sundays Gospel at Faith Lutheran church we are told the story of John 9. A man blind from birth receives his sight from Jesus. Spiritual Formation for this blind beggar was also about receiving the spittle of Jesus formed into mud applied to his blind eyes. What a humbling and yet a truly amazing thing and totally unexpected by him!

  2. It may be that even more is required of us than being receptive vessels in the praxis of our Spiritual Formation. Perhaps a better picture is to say that for our Spiritual Formation we are to become both the humble recipient and the humble dispenser of the Grace of God. And in the process of it we get to behold the face of Christ! This is what happened to both the blind beggar who began his journey with the spit and mud of Christ on his face. It is also what happened to Peter and the others in the upper room when he at first objected to the foot bathing from Jesus but then learned to apply it to others.

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