Friday, May 4, 2007

The Humanity of Scripture

Andrew Jukes begins his little book “The Restitution of All Things” (1867) with a refreshingly honest look at the nature of Biblical contradiction. Obviously, the Biblical text which tells of the many who are eternally lost seem to contradict those texts which speak of the reconciliation of all. So prior to embarking on his own explanation of this riddle, he offers his view of the nature of Scripture.

He begins with Christ, who is the primary revelation of God. The nature of Christ, he argues, is not (in principle) any different from all other revelations of God, in that “the divine is revealed under a veil, and that veil a creature-form.” God is both hidden and revealed at the same time - in Jesus first, but similarly also in Scripture, Nature and Providence. These four revelations of God, he asserts, all contain apparent contradictions because they are both natural and super-natural, human and divine - God hidden in the humble.

Jukes maintains a high view of Scripture, ridiculing those who would pick apart Scripture to prove its human origin. Of course it’s human! He compares all such efforts to picking away at the flesh of Jesus (even to the point of killing him) just to prove He was human.

He writes about Scripture “…it has humbled itself so to come for us, out of the heart of prophets and apostles; in its human form, like Christ’s flesh, subject to all those infirmities and limitations which Christ’s flesh was subject to - thoroughly human as He was; yet in spirit, like Him, thoroughly divine, and full of the unfathomed depths of God’s almighty love and wisdom.”

When I am confronted with Biblical contradiction, the human side of Scripture, my first instinct is to run away, to deny, to reject or to attack. These riddles make me angry, doubtful, anxious, and fearful. Why couldn't God have been more clear and logical? What is the point of presenting us with such difficulty?

Jukes reminds me that the human and contradictory Jesus, the perfect (yet veiled) revelation of God, had a similar effect on people. And people asked the same kinds of questions.

Jesus was not what we expected of a Messiah.

And Scripture is not what we expect of a divine message.

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