Friday, 21 December 2012

Encountering the Word of God

After reading a recent blog on biblical inerrancy, I began thinking about my first encounter with the Bible. I had intended to use this highly subjective anecdote as part of a longer blog post, one with an argument, a point, a conclusion: sacred reading as a form of prayer (the listening part rather than the speaking part we normally make due with) was one topic that came to mind. Perhaps another time...

Growing up as a nominal, non-practicing, cultural 'Christian' my only experience of the Holy Scriptures had been through my occasionally perused illustrated children's Bible, which was no Bible at all, but merely a superficial retelling of the main narratives of the Bible in the form of 365 short stories. I was familiar with some of the more well known sayings of Christ - the Sermon on the Mount, 'Go sell all ye have', and so on - but I was entirely ignorant of even the basic tenets of Christianity and had never even heard the words 'Trinity' or 'Incarnation'. That Christ is God was an idea entirely foreign to me, and so I understood His words to be those of a holy man, a prophet who bore the title 'son of God' merely as an honourific one, not the words of God. I still remember the first time I opened a real Bible - a leatherbound copy of the Authorised Version I had received at school aged 11. While I remember well receiving it, I don't recall exactly when I first attempted to read it. Having then only been in England for a few months, still trying to get the hang of 20th century English, I was not quite ready for the 17th century English of the KJV! In any case, I remember turning to one of the Old Testament prophets and coming across the words 'Thus saith the Lord'. Reading the words of God Himself - something I never realised I could find in what I thought was little more than a story book - gave me goosebumps, made my hairs stand on end, and filled me with such an awe that I had to close the Book after just a few lines. The words themselves did not matter at that time - I, dust of the earth, had heard God speak: He was knowable, He was personal. Only later when I came to learn about His Incarnation ('the reason for the season') did I realise just how personal!

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