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The Book of Continuous Creation by Peter Krey September 5th, 2010

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The Book of the Continuous Creation

September 5th 2010

Goethe was reading Luther’s “Preface to the Psalms,” in which Luther called the Psalms the little Bible in the Bible, because it contained the whole Bible in a nutshell. Luther wrote that the Bible reflected everything in the world. So Goethe called the Bible, the World-Mirror (Weltspiegel).[1] The latter is a very interesting term.

In Medieval times a law code was referred to as a “mirror,” for example, the Sachsenspiegel or the Mirror of Saxony and it was the name of the law code of Saxony. In holding up a mirror to the society, it could see itself, get to know itself, it could detect the disorder and bring order to itself via the law code.

The Bible in the sense of a World-mirror, however, is more than just a law code. In holding a mirror up to the world, it also reflected nature and history to themselves or ourselves, because we are a part of nature and history. Now an order could be sought after in nature and one could also be looked for in history.

Reflected by a book, nature and history could be thought of as reflecting the book as well, the Scriptures, the Word of God, as well, and then the order in nature and history could be thought of as the Book of Nature and the Book of History, declaring the glory of God and our need for salvation. These books along with the Bible testified to the handiwork of God; the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Testaments of Nature and History. The Book of History reflected how God was at work in history; it reflected God’s saving acts among the people of God’s creation. Opening up these books opened up the Book of Creation.

“Without the Word [there can be] no world.”[2] Without God’s speaking gentle and secure promises to us, the world becomes a “wasteland a thousand times, mute and cold.”[3] The “Word” can be understood to be Christ and the creation through the Word (Logos) or reason in the Greek sense or the word of command in the Hebrew sense. According to Oswald Bayer, Luther’s Gospel discovery was the efficacy of the word: God’s Word does what it says and says what it does, making God’s promises sure and certain.[4] Thus the Bible needs to be understood as a living book. When reading it “you have to listen to your God speaking to you.” as Luther says in the “Freedom of a Christian.”[5] With that the speaking of God recreates you, renews you, lifts you up in the voice of God to your nature and history; or more precisely, into your biography, that by God’s grace becomes your theography, as you become part of God’s new creation.

That places us squarely into the Book of your Life, your mirror, and how God is at work in your life. “We don’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”[6] So now we are speaking about living words that fill the living Bible of our lives. And we know that the law code came from Moses, but the grace and truth of the Gospel came from Jesus Christ our Lord. So we live by the promises of God and we let God know us, so that we receive the new birth, “not of the blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”[7]

Let me return from the personal, from our human nature, to nature more or less outside of us. When disconnected from the Book of Life, from the living Book  that the Book of Nature was reflecting, the first Greek philosophers began giving natural explanations for natural events. And in discovering the order in nature and its relative intelligibility via reason, observation; and through the course of time, experimentation, including the scientific method, scientists ran the danger of encapsulating nature, (Think how mysterious the word “nature” is!) from the Book of Nature in which we also hear our God speaking to us. But rifling the secrets from nature by smashing the particles violently to divide and conquer them for the sake of technological control, and its depersonalized objectification, has made us no longer able to hear God speaking to us through nature. Luther tells that God is closer to us creatures, deeper, more internal, more present, than we creatures are to ourselves.[8] But we hide in the hand of our autonomy, even though without God we would evaporate from the earth and it too would evaporate in a nano-second, and for us, the voice of God has become mute.

Even so and here again, following Augustine, we have to think of the Happy fall, because God wants us to understand nature. But we have to take the joyous Ascent in Christ once more and understand nature as creation, in God’s words, whose doing is saying and saying is doing, in terms of the continuous creation, because the miracles of modern science – space ships, Internet, droids, iphones, molecular computers, or what have you, will not hold a candle to the miracle of God’s continuous creation, when we hear our God speaking to us via the living Book of Nature, the living Book of History, filled with all the promises of God for the new creation!

[1] Oswald Bayer,  Schoepfung als Anrede, (Tuebingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebick), 1990), page 43. I have not finished this book. My thoughts probably anticipate some of Oswald Bayer’s conclusions.

[2] Ibid., page 44-45.

[3] Ibid., page 45: An apt description of our alienation in the world that Bayer takes from Nietzsche.

[4] Ibid., page 38. Here Bayer refers very precisely to Luther’s discovery of the performative. “[The speech act] does what it says and says what it does.” (Sie tut was sie sagt, sie sagt was sie tut.) In explicating Psalm 118, Luther exclaims, shaken to the very depths, “This is a great word, a great sound, and one to be feared, ‘Behold, the Word of God!’” See James Samuel Preus, ­From Shadow to Promise, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969), page 253. J.L. Austin discovered the performative for our times in his William James Harvard Lectures of 1955, published in his book, How to Do Things with Words, J.O. Urmson and Marina Sbisà, editors, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962 and 1975). For Austin, the significance of the discovery evaporated, because it was completely disconnected to God’s speaking to us.

[5] Philip and Peter Krey, Luther’s Spirituality, (New York: the Paulist Press, 2007), page 72. See page 268, footnote 18: “One who hears the word becomes like the word, pure, good, and just.”

[6] Deuteronomy 8:3.

[7] John 1:13.

[8] Bayer, page 30.


Written by peterkrey

September 5, 2010 at 10:02 pm

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