February 1, 2016

Not of the Book

Christianity is not, properly speaking, a religion of the “book.” The distinctively Christian part of the Bible (what most people mean by “the book”) is a product of Christianity in its earliest days. The Christian faith is actually a religion of the Spirit of God, who, yes, infuses the text the writers of the early church were inspired to produce, and who continues to enlighten the minds of Christians as they read and hear that text. But God is not the text. God is God, and it is the Spirit of God that gives life, not the letter. The Scripture is testimony, a pointer and a witness; Jesus is the Truth to whom this witness points.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Bill Carroll said...

When I teach Catechism, I stress that Church and Keygma/Creed predate Canon. This is true both sociologically and theologically. The latter is far more important. What is primary is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Scripture arises to testify to the Apostolic Faith already preached and received. It arises within the Body and for the sake of the Body and the Body's mission in the world. It is read in community, and it is just as true to say that the Spirit must inspire the act of reading as it is to say that Spirit inspires the act of writing. The Spirit's ministry is to testify to Jesus and build up his Body in love.

GrammyB said...

I sleays thought that the Jews were people of the book.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

[I accidentally deleted Mary Clara's comment... Mea culpa...]

Mary Clara has left a new comment on your post "Not of the Book":

Well said, Tobias! And I think the Bible would back you up on this. It never asks to be worshipped, but instead points to what IS Holy.

John Julian said...

I want to push it back one step further: the first gift God gave humanity was the human mind—a small imitation of the Divine Mind itself. It has been accurately called "the image of God". It is our FIRST access to truth and to God, just as it was God's first gift—a shard of divinity planted in humanity. Then everything else follows in chronological order: the Prophets, the Hebrew traditions, the Church, the Christian Tradition (of which the Scriptures and Liturgy are a part), and even what we might call "current events" which now require comprehension and explanation, and may well be the manifestation of God's mind for us.

So good to have you back online, Tobias!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks to all for the very helpful comments.

Fr John-Julian, glad to be back, and to have a bit more time for reflection! On your point, this is exactly what Hooker meant when he puts Reason (the rational faculty) prior to Scripture, and also as a 'necessary implement' for understanding Scripture and reaping the benefits it provides. For Hooker, reason is not a second fiddle to Scripture --- it is the violinist!

MarkBrunson said...

Please, Fr. John-Julian, share this thought in a wider community! I feel so tired of trying to defend this with no ordination to my name, and no standing in the church. For better or worse, titles count, and maybe they will listen to you, priest and religious.