December 17, 2012 by Jason Hood
Not enough poetry and paean about the Bible these days, if you ask me. Psalm 19 and 119 are the classics, but there’ve been more than few nice efforts in centuries past.
The following poem was entitled “The Bible,” and appeared on the first page of a few English editions since 1594. For some reason this little poem, which is more a spur to tolle lege than high art, strikes me as more apposite than a “word from the translator” in our current editions (although of course back then the title was long enough then to serve as a “word from the translator”).
Here is the spring where waters flow, To quench our heat of sin;
Here is the tree where truth doth grow To lead our lives therein;
Here is the judge that stints the strife When men’s devises fail:
Here is the bread that feeds the life Which death cannot assail.
The tidings of salvation dear Comes to our ears from hence;
The fortress of our faith is here; The shield of our defence.
Then be not like the hog that hath A pearl at his desire,
And takes more pleasure in the trough And wallowing in the mire.
Read not this book in any case But with a single eye:
Read not, but first desire GOD’s grace, To understand thereby.
Pray still in faith with this respect To fructify therein;
That knowledge may bring this effect, To mortify thy sin.
Then happy thou in all thy life, Whatso to thee befalls;
Yea, doubly happy shalt thou be When GOD by death thee calls.
A rich view of the poem in a 1611 Bible may be found here; note that the poem serves as a sort of theological counterpart to the art and doctrinal chart on the opening pages.0 Comments
January 3, 2012 by Gerald Hiestand
This from my sermon this past Sunday, preached on John 5:39, where Christ tells us that the most fundamental point of Scripture is that they “bear witness” to Christ.
Relating to Christ through the Scriptures is not at all unlike relating to your spouse in marriage. Just as not every moment in a healthy, loving marriage will involve passion and romance, so too not every moment in Scripture will be attended with spiritual goose bumps. The bulk of both relationships are lived in the day to day—without fanfare or fireworks. But it is precisely our fidelity in the day to day experiences that makes the moments of marital and spiritual consummation precisely that—consummation. Consummation is the summing up of the whole. It is the celebration and bringing together of everything that makes a thing the thing that it is.
In respect to marriage, bodily union is the consummation of the whole shared life of marriage—the mundane, the exciting, the beautiful, the difficult, the grievous, the joyful. And in respect to the Bible, Christ is the consummation of the entire biblical narrative. Without fidelity to the whole of the biblical narrative—plodding, as it were, through Numbers and Leviticus and the Minor Prophets—there is no narrative to consummate. But if we are patient, faithful attention to the whole story of Scripture will yield consummating, Christological moments. And indeed, such moments will be all the richer because we’ve steadily plodded through the entirety of the narrative.
December 31, 2011 by Gerald Hiestand
Augustine famously defines a sacrament as “a visible word” — a visible sign of an invisible grace. Lombard and the Scholastics take this farther (or “clarify”, if you’re Catholic), and assert that the sign not only signifies Christ and his work, but also dispenses the grace that it signifies. Thus Thomas defines a sacrament as, “The sign of a sacred thing in so far as it sanctifies men” (Summa III.60.2).
I’m preaching a sermon this Sunday on the Christian’s motivation for reading the Bible… And it’s struck me that most low-church evangelicals adopt an essentially sacramental view of Scripture, in this later Thomistic sense. We see the Bible as a holy book (i.e., an external sign) about Christ that uniquely mediates the grace of Christ to those who read it through the eyes of faith.
Of course, there’s nothing unique about this view of Scripture reading — it’s consistent with the way Christians have always read the Bible, at lease since Origen. But there’s a certain irony here in that we low-church protestants view the Scriptures in a sacramental sense, but don’t view the sacraments in a sacramental sense.9 Comments