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Christmas, Clinic, Birth, Nativity Scene, Crib

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:1–14

In the beginning was the Bible, and the Bible was with God, and the Bible was God—well, at least according to some wayward Evangelicals. But that’s not what John’s Prologue says, now does it? The Word became flesh. The Word didn’t become paper; the Word became flesh, and, as Brad Jersak says, grew a beard around age 18. Now, whether Christ had a beard, or was unable to grow one like yours truly, is not the point. The point is that the Word became flesh.

So, what is the Word? Some say the bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word, but I, following in the footsteps of Greek pre-Socratic philosophers, say unto you that the Word, or rather, the Logos, is that which structures the world. As Heraclitus once said, the Logos is the principle by which, “things which are put together are both whole and not whole, brought together and taken apart, in harmony and out of harmony; one thing arises from all things, and all things arise from one thing.”[1] What was this “structuring principle.” Duh! War. Conflict. Strife. Heraclitus goes on to say that, “On the one hand war is the father of all, on the other, the king of everything. On the one hand it designates gods, on the other, it shows who is human. On the one hand it makes men slaves, on the other, it makes them free.”[2] And again: “It is necessary to understand that war is common, strife is customary, and all things happen because of strife and necessity.”[3]

Is this true, however? Is it true that war, violence, retribution, strife, and conflict hold all things together? No. And yes. No in that the true Logos that John is describing is far from such things. As René Girard discusses in Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, “The Johannine Logos is foreign to any kind of violence; it is therefore forever expelled, an absent Logos that never has had any direct, determining influence over human cultures.”[4] But on the other hand, yes, the Logos of our human cultures and religions—being brought about by our mimetic nature and our propensity toward achieving peace at the expense of our laundry list of scapegoats—are structured by violence. Again, here’s Girard: “These cultures are based on the Heraclitean Logos, the Logos of expulsion, the Logos of violence, which, if it is not recognized, can provide the foundation of a culture.”[5]

This is just the Greek context of the Logos, however. There is also the Jewish context, which is a bit different. Biblical scholar Raymond E. Brown identifies four possible ideas of what “the Word” can come to mean within Judaism.[6] Essentially, they are 1) The Word of the Lord (i.e., God communicating actual words through his prophets), 2) Personified Wisdom (i.e., that which works with God in creating the cosmos), 3) Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew bible), and 4) The use of Memra in the Targums (i.e., Memra being used as a stand in for God’s voice in order to eliminate an anthropomorphic understanding of God).[7]

Now, regardless of what we think of all this, the point being is that in place of all these potential understandings of “the Logos/Word,” Christ is now going to be seen as front and center in whatever we think structures all of reality. It’s not violence or strife, or even Torah itself (or, more accurately, one’s interpretation of Torah, which John’s Gospel will go on to say how even that is used to inflict violence upon one another: see John 19:7); that which structures all things and brings all things into being is the Christ.

Of course, none of this should be seen as a knock against Torah, or the Bible, or anything of that nature. It’s simply to say that these things need their proper hermeneutical lens, which is the nonviolent Logos of God (i.e., Christ). You see, no matter what we think of Scripture, no matter what our theory of inspiration is, everything comes down to interpretation. We are never approaching it tabula rasa, that is, with a blank slate. It’s always filtered through our subjective grids and filters, which are in place thanks to our current cultural climate. Which means, we need something more concrete, one that is with God and actually is God. Again, that is Christ, the Word made flesh, the one who brings grace and truth (John 1:18).


[1] Fragment 10.

[2] Fragment 53.

[3] Fragment 80.

[4] Girard, Things Hidden, 271.

[5] Ibid.

[6] See Brown, The Gospel According to John, 520.

[7] Hardin, The Jesus Driven Life, 267–68.

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