Do I need Christ? I thought the other day of the Scripture “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleed in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:17-19).
If this is suppose to be true, does my life reflect this? No way. If I found out that Christ has not been raised, I would not be pitied above all men, I would be sorely disappointed, my beliefs would be shattered but my life wouldn’t. I would just change my beliefs and change my life direction and go on without hope. Have I come to a place where I no longer desire the American dream? Where I actually put all my eggs in one basket, I no longer try to keep one foot on this earth “just in case it isn’t true”. How is that faith? How is it faith to try and still have my life, the career I want and a family I want and things I want? I have failed miserably in this. I want to be in that very risky and terrifying place of knowing that if I have put my faith in the wrong God I am to be pitied above all men, that I have absolutely nothing left in this world, I am competely screwed because I have given it all to Christ. And by “given it all to Christ” I mean loving my neighbor and giving to those who need it most because that is what my savior has called me to. I have the Gospel, why do I keep trying to supplement that? Because I am scared of the question, “what if it isn’t true?”
“If you are a scholar, remember that if you do not read God’s Word in another way, it will turn out that after a lifetime of reading God’s Word man hours every day, you nevertheless have never read – God’s Word” (S. Kierkegaard).
As I study for finals, I realize how guilty I am of this. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that what a text means is what a text meant, a poor hermeneutic of any text, much more so the Word of God. Why is this so easy? It allows for a disengagement of the text, the text no longer means anything to me; actually, only in some vague sense then can it mean at all.
It is also easy to defer a subjective reading of Scripture until ‘you have it figured out.’ However, Kierkegaard again reminds us of a stinging truth. “His point is that there are enough perfectly clear [texts] to keep one busy without having to wait for the conclusions of biblical research before one can live as a Christian” (R. Bauckham, James, 7). What then, I ask myself is the point of learning it in the first place? It is for the love of the Church. I agree that not everyone needs to be deep thinkers theologically, they only need to be deep doers Christologically. However, some do need to be deep thinkers theologically. I am certainly not ‘cut from the same cloth’ (as Dave D would say) intellectually as even many within my own institution but I don’t need to be more intellegent than others, only faithful.
But one thing is clear, the more I know, the harder it is to engage in the text in a subjectively meaningful way. Understanding redemptive-history is important, but Scriptures are also written to us and not just for us.
Once more, as Kierkegaard says,
when you read God’s Word you must (so that you actually do come to see yourself in the mirror) remember to say to yourself incessantly: It is I to whom it is speaking; It is I about whom it is speaking.