Richard Rohr – The Bible as ‘Text in Travail’

bible-chinese

I like to think of the Bible as what historian, social scientist, and literary critic Rene Girard rightly calls “a text in travail.” The text itself edges forward and then pulls its punch backward out of fear or small heartedness, just as humans do. In other words, the Bible doesn’t just give you the conclusions (which is what we want), but it does reveal some basic patterns of Divine Intrusion in to the world and thus creates a tangent for history. Our job is to connect the dots as they move history forward, and only then can we recognize when we are retreating from that trajectory. Such wisdom is surely a gift of the Spirit, and explains why the Bible has done so much harm in history when it was put in the hands of immature people, angry people, power-hungry people, fearful people, and people grasping for identity and superiority (which is all of us before conversion!).

Only inner spiritual experience of the meaning of a text can do the job–not just proof texts or memorized answers. Spiritually speaking, it does not help to give people quick and easy answers–which the ego always wants but will then misunderstand or misuse–unless they have also gone on an actual inner journey. The genius of the biblical revelation is that it doesn’t just give us conclusions. Instead, it does three things:

1) it tells us that the spiritual journey is real, and invites us into that journey;

2) it charts the process of going on that journey toward God, and there seem to be many patterns in the Bible itself; and

3) it thus offers us both the inner experience and some outer confirmation to trust that God is actually with us and will guide us.

That is about all we need. The rest is all window dressing.

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