When No Escape is a Good Thing and “The Word”- George MacDonald Reflections 9 & 10

9: Escape is Hopeless

The man whose deeds are evil, fears the burning.  But the burning will not come the less that he fears it or denies it.  Escape is hopeless.  For Love is inexorable.  Our God is a consuming fire.  He shall not come out till he has paid the uttermost farthing

10: The Word

But herein is the Bible itself greatly wronged.  It nowhere lays claim to be regarded as the Word, the Way, the Truth.  The Bible leads us to Jesus, the inexhaustible, the ever unfolding Revelation of God.  It is Christ “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” not the Bible, save as leading to Him.

Christianity gets particularly singular, despite its numerous doctrines, traditions of the church fathers and mothers, saints, and denominations.  All things point to Christ, and Christ alone.  What are we to make of this?

The more educated I’ve become about Bible, the less I’ve come to see it as the be all end all of Christ’s teachings.  It is a combination of historical documents, poetry, storytelling, myth, letters, and prophetic writings.  To some, this automatically renders the Bible, and thereby Christianity to be of no use, authority, or truth whatsoever.  For myself, however, this realization brings on a sense of relief and enables my faith to come more alive.  Why?

I was at a retreat at Weston Priory, and the brothers took us through the benedictine tradition of lectio divina, which is a very slow, methodical, meditative reading of a passage of scripture from the Bible.  I asked, at one point, “So what does this passage mean?”  The subtext of my question was an inquiry into what the doctrinal position was on this particular passage, a “when Christ says X, he means X” equation.  The brother looked at me and then asked quietly, “Well, what does it mean to you?”

What the brother was emphasizing was a return of my consciousness to what holy scripture was meant for: to assist in the growth of my relationship to God.  That’s what scripture is meant to speak to.  If my first impulse was to read the Bible as a series of rules that I must obey, to apply X to X, as one would in following directions on how to build a table,  then I was truly missing the point.  Of tantamount importance is what this particular passage of scripture was saying about my relationship to Christ , right then and there, and the impetus of this reading was to focus my mind on that, and that alone.  The Bible, having led me to where I need to be, can now be put to the side, as I dwell in He to whom I have been led.

And by my faith I believe I have been led to a place where inexorable Love is supreme, that anything that is not Love is burned away.  The part of me that comes with the baggage of hate, anger, greed, selfishness, insecurity, anxiety, is stripped away, and I am able to dwell in that Perfect Love.

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3 thoughts on “When No Escape is a Good Thing and “The Word”- George MacDonald Reflections 9 & 10

  1. Peace Wandering Tree,

    A beautiful post. Thank you. Love as a purificatory fire is something I can relate to deeply, and is an image often used in Sufi poetry.

    Scripture/revelation is not merely the descent of a set of stone laws. It is also something that requires us to respond, like the opening part of an eternal conversation between us and God. This is why understanding what scripture means to us is so fundamentally important. Besides, if we don’t thoroughly examine our own preconceptions and prejudices, how will we ever know what scripture truly means?

    Abdur Rahman

  2. Peace to you Abdur,
    I would really love to read some Sufi poetry…what do you suggest as a good starting point?

    “The eternal conversation:” well put.

    Pax,
    wanderingtree

  3. Peace Wandering Tree,

    Well…Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi is an excellent place to start. Shaykh Kabir Helminski’s ‘The Rumi Collection’ is an excellent anthology (and is easily available).

    Rumi’s Masnavi-yi Ma’nawi (spiritual couplets) is a kind of free-flowing meditation/commentary upon the Quran. Indeed, a later Persian poet (Jami) described the Masnavi as ‘the Quran in the Persian tongue’.

    Follow this link to my own Sufi links page: http://thecorner.wordpress.com/sufi-links/

    The first section is devoted to Rumi links, and there’s all sorts of other stuff there too.

    Abdur Rahman

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