"Send out Your light and Your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling." Psalm 43:3

Friday, May 3, 2013

Williams: 'That wholeness given by Christ's resurrection'

(this post is part 2 of a series - part 1,  part 3)

Having sketched how the icon of the resurrection points to Christ’s healing of divisions, even those between the living and the dead, Williams continues by noting that this brings critical insight into how Christians read the Scriptures. The Biblical figures, the patriarchs, prophets, and saints, are our contemporaries (the communion of saints) precisely because of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus is the center upon which all else turns, in whom all things hold together. The Church Fathers were well aware of this; I love how they are able to see Christ in all the Scriptures, from Genesis right down to Revelation. Sometimes, I think, the Fathers may be justly criticized for overly stretching a text to read into it a Christian meaning, or going a bit overboard with an allegory. Certainly, it is important to understand the historical and cultural contexts in which a passage emerged. But even in these ‘creative’ cases, I find myself inspired by the Fathers’ interpretations, longing myself to be so soaked in the ever-present Christ that I cannot help but find Him everywhere I turn. And I do agree with Williams that ‘a proper Christian reading of the Bible’ must always be in the light of Christ and His work, or else ‘we shall read inadequately.’

“The Bible is not a human record from the distant past, full of a mixture of inspiring and not-so-inspiring stories or thoughts; nor is it a sort of magical oracle, dictated by God. It is rather, the utterances and records of human beings who have been employed by God to witness to his action in the world, now given to us by God so that we may learn who he is and what he does; and the ‘giving’ by God is by means of the resurrection of Jesus. The risen Jesus takes hold of the history of God’s people from its remotest beginnings, lifts it out of death by bringing it to completeness, and presents it to us as his word, his communication to us here and now. Because we live in the power of the risen Christ, we can hear and understand this history, since it is made contemporary with us; in the risen Christ, David and Solomon, Abraham and Moses, stand in the middle of our assembly, our present community, speaking to us about the God who spoke with them in their lifetimes in such a way that we can see how their encounter with God leads towards and is completed in Jesus. In the Fourth Gospel, Jesus speaks of Abraham being glad to see his coming (John 8.56); this is the thought that the icon represents. Just as Jesus reintroduces Adam and Eve as he takes each of them by the hand, so he takes Abraham and ourselves by the hand and introduces us to each other. And from Abraham we learn something decisive about faith, about looking to an unseen future and about trusting that the unseen future has the face of Christ. Thus a proper Christian reading of the Bible is always a reading that looks and listens for that wholeness given by Christ’s resurrection; if we try to read any passage without being aware of the light of the resurrection, we shall read inadequately.”   ~ Rowan Williams, The Dwelling of the Light

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