In the beginnning…

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In my last post, I began to look at the original Greek at the beginning of the gospel of John.  What I found was that we translate a certain term as “word” but the original term, “logos”, is far more complex that that.  Further, John has a much easier term right at his fingertips.  If he had wanted to express the idea that Jesus was an ordinary word, a mere utterance, he would not have used the word “logos” at all.

A second portion of the more robust definition of “logos” is that it implies a principle.   This makes some sense, the idea that God was creating through Jesus at the very beginning of time if part of Jesus’ very nature is as a redemptive principle.

I initially wrote, in that paragraph above, that Jesus is a creative, not redemptive principle.  But the word “redemptive” actually fits the “orginal” creation, way back in Genesis, too.  Check it out:

People way smarter than me say that the opening lines of the bible have been oversimplified.   Most of the time, it gets rendered as “In the beginning, God…”   Hebrew-fluent people tell me that the NRSV is more accurate in this regard.  It says “When God began creating, The Earth was with out form and void.”

The implication is that the Earth was more-or-less sitting around, a lifeless husk, until God came around and started making the Garden and Adam.  I don’t believe that this necessarily entails that God had no part in the creation of the original lifeless husk.  The bible doesn’t give us a play-by-play of the creation of the angels, either.  I believe that God created (or set into motion the forces that would eventually create) tghe lifeless husk, and then, essentially, set it aside.   A bit like how a TV cookie might make a glaze first, then put the bowl aside until all the other ingredients are cruising along.

One thing compelling about this vision of things is the idea that it squares nicely with the accounts scientists give us about the history of the Earth.  I don’t believe that we ought to shape our theology in order to make it consistent with scientific ideas.  But I do think it’s a nice bonus when science and faith paint us similiar pictures.

Anyway, if it was Jesus who was active in bringing life to that previously lifeless hunk, there’s a sense– consistent with the meaning of “logos” that he is bringer order and life to a previously chaotic place.

Perhaps even more compelling, this ties nicely together Jesus’ missions with regards to the Earth.  Both before Adam, and 2000 years ago, Jesus brought order and life into darkness and chaos.  A further interesting connection is the idea that God speaks numerous times in Genesis.  Usually it’s a commentary on the state of things:  This is good, this is very good, it is not good for man to be alone,

In addition to the fact that Jesus is what prevented man (kind) from being alone, I find it evocative, the brute fact that God was speaking at all.  Since no humans were yet created to hear him, this certainly suggest there was someone else around (i.e. Jesus) to hear him.  But moreover, the idea that both Genesis’ writer (Moses?) and John tell us that words were around at the very beginning of time, that’s a pretty interesting thing.

In the name of intellectual integrity I should probably express up fron that this post is highly speculative in nature.  I am out of my element, and basing some of my assumptions on others’ area of expertise.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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