Monday, April 9, 2007

The word of salvation

Do I have to be able to hear to know a word? If I am deaf, then I will use my eyes. Do I need to be able to think to reason? Perhaps someone else will have to anticipate consequences and remember obligations. Even if deaf, blind, and unable to think, I still may know life more fully than the able-bodied.

A man called his father, whom he had never met. The only word he said to him was "I am glad you did not have me aborted". The man is on the street, a product of European colonialism in the 10th generation, mentally disabled by alcohol from his birth. Can he take part in the word of salvation spoken through Israel from the past 3 millennia?

Salvation is not a 'Christian' concept. Salvation is older and is present in the psalter. Even in the New Testament, it is a word in a context that transcends adjectives and is not owned by understanding. It is from the Jews but cannot be monopolized by any one moniker. It is beyond description, law or science. But it is not unheard of, or invisible, or unavailable. Scholars, scribes, and able-bodied sceptics and servants are at a potential disadvantage, for they construct boxes (theologies, sects, equations, statistics) and other explanations to hold their patterns, but they may be deaf and blind and irrational in the very constructions they create.

Goethe: Everyone sees the material before them, but only someone who has something to do with it sees the contents, and the form is a secret to most. (Quoted in Gunkel: An Introduction to the Psalms)

We are the material of salvation, if we pay attention, we will see our contents, but the form of salvation, the messianic secret, is Christ, the word of God to us and our dialogue partner. We may or may not see the form, but the salvation is real nonetheless.

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