Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Themes of God in Scripture

A recent thread on the Ooze got some of us debating the "Word of God" and what that means. Here's what I posted several days ago:

i think we should talk more in terms of the "themes" of god, instead of putting actual words in his mouth...i mean does anyone know what language he speaks? what literal words did he say to put the stars, the sun and moon in place? "let there be light"? was that in king james english?

i mean, honestly, "word of god" is really just a metaphor anyway, isn't it? if someone were to record the literal word of god today, with our technology, could we then download it as an mp3? would it hold up in the court of christianity?

i'd rather see a discussion about the "themes of god" and where we see them woven throughout scripture, human nature, the intrinsic beauty of the world around us, etc.

was the "word" actually spoken audibly to the prophets or did they receive some divine impression in their spirit or mind? and how does the word actually become flesh? either it's in verbal or printed form...i mean if it is a literal word, right?

but if word is just a metaphor for divine themes, then we can see how those themes were lived out by jesus...how they provided an impetus for everything he did or said...and how they can motivate us to righteous action

because when jesus actually spoke "divine words" he often put them in parable form, but we seem to want to take every literal word printed in the bible as a literal story about a historic event...if jesus is the "word made flesh" and he dealt in metaphors and parables, then what's to say that's not how god has been speaking all along?

and if we do strictly deal in themes, taking literal accounts of the flood, per se, and taking them as parables with a theme, then have we really changed anything? wasn't gods intent to get us to think about the things in our heart? not to see if we'd build an ark every time it rains, or an altar every time we see a rainbow

so, what are some of your favorite themes?

btw, if you're interested in weighing in on the discussion over at the ooze, click here


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nolesrock said...


foxtrot_delta said...

Chris I think you'd have far more eternal qualifications if you follow the themes (the feelings) written on your heart as described in your post! A lot more fun too! It would put you in the top echelon. Who needs worldly qualifications anyway when we can have that?

Jeff Wright said...


Ha, ha! That kind of spamming used to happen to me until I changed the settings for my comments. You can change the settings to require that people type in a code that shows on the screen before they can post a comment. That prevents the automatic spammers from leaving a msg.

In defense of the phrase "word of God" (I never got around to commenting on that topic even though I started that thread) the Bible actually does refer to itself as the word of God. I'm not saying that the meaning of this phrase is cut and dry because its not. Explaining what the word of God means requires more than a simplistic response but I think that it is valid to speak of the Bible as the word of God. Here is an excerpt from an article that briefly mentions the phrase:

"“The word of God” is another title used of the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. This expression highlights the nature of the Bible as the revelation of God in written form as well as its source; it is the revelation from God. The Greek term used is logos, which means “a word as embodying a conception or idea, speech or discourse.” But it is also used of the “revelation of God, of God’s word, God’s command.” In Mark 7:13, “the word of God” is used of Moses’ command regarding honoring father and mother and is seen as equivalent to the phrase, “the commandment of God” (vs. 8). In Matthew 15:6, this expression is used specifically of the Law of Moses. In John 10:35, it is used of the Old Testament and further defined as Scripture. In Hebrews 4:12, the “word of God” is used of all Scripture, referring to both the Old and New Testaments."
From: "Terms Used for the Bible"

And one more:
"Does Scripture justify our speaking of the Bible as the Word of God? It may be said at once that the term ‘Word of God’ is not used in Scripture as a designation of the Bible as a whole. And it could not be, since the Bible as a whole was not yet in existence at that time. It might have been used in the New Testament to denote the Old Testament in its written form, since this did exist as such, cf. John 15:25; I Cor. 15:54. But it is not even used in that limited sense. However, the mere fact that this term is not so employed in Scripture does not necessarily mean that the Bible does not warrant such use. The Church of Jesus Christ certainly never showed any hesitancy on that point.

Some Scriptural data deserve notice here. The Old Testament writings, as inspired of God, are called ta hiera grammata, the holy writings, II Tim. 3:15; and a part of that sacred written legacy is called “the prophetic word,” II Pet. 1:19, since the writers spoke from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit. Some quotations from the Old Testament are introduced in the New with the words, “It is written in the law,” and these words have the exact force of, “It is written in your authentic Scriptures,” John 10:34; 15:25; Romans 3:19; I Cor. 14:21. In other cases the simple formula, “It is written” is used, and this was equivalent to, “God says,” Matt. 4:4,7,10; 26:24; Mark 11:17; 24:46. The terms hegraphe and hai graphai were designations of the written word, and the formula, “The Scripture saith,” is used synonymously with “God says,” Rom. 9:17; Gal. 2:8. In view of the fact that the Old Testament in its written form was thus represented as the Word of God in the New Testament, it need cause no surprise that the New Testament revelation, when it assumed a written form, should also be so represented, and that the term “Word of God” at once became a designation for the Bible as a whole. Peter explicitly places the Epistles of Paul on a level with the Old Testament writings, II Pet. 3:16. The Biblical authors therefore do not hesitate to consider the written Word as the revelation of God, and this finds it explanation in the fact that they were deeply conscious of the fact that the books of the Bible were written under divine inspiration, and are therefore absolutely reliable. By supernatural inspiration the Bible became the Word of God for all coming generations. In it God continually speaks to all the generations of men, and the Holy Spirit makes this continuous speaking effective where and when He pleases."

From: "What is the Word of God?" by Louis Berkhof

So I do not think that "the word of God" is exhaustively defined by saying that word of God=Bible but I think it is legitimate to describe the Bible as the word of God. Peace.

nolesrock said...

still seems pretentious to say indisputably what anyone in the first century would have believed "word of god" to mean, especially since jesus himself uttered the words "it is written" several times before rewriting/reinterpreting them...

so to follow the logic from the second quotation, above, god's word changed when jesus arrived

Lauren said...

Hey! Dang, you're just everywhere! :-D I think our little message board will one day take over the internet. Wouldn't you say? ;-)

Ryan S. said...

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
-John 11:25