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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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So it is that for the Christian, what is recognised as revelation is necessarily, inseparably, a moment of drastic change in perception of oneself; the story I usually tell myself about who and what I am is shattered and I have to discover different ways of thinking, speaking and imagining. For the Christian mystical tradition, this is only the beginning of a continuing process of loss and recreation, night and dawn. But it is at the heart of all Christian thinking simply because this is the way in which the New Testament itself presents revelation. The woman at the well of Sychar describes her strange interlocutor as a man who told her everything she ever did, and it is on this basis that she concludes that he may be the Anointed. And the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, which this day in the Church's calendar commemorates, is emphatically not just about acquiring the awareness of new information but about the discovery of a new and shocking identity. Who is Saul? Not the model servant of the Lord but the persecutor of the Lord. So who is Jesus? The one who lives and suffers in his friends. And so in turn comes the discovery which Saul spent the rest of his life struggling to express: the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth is not simply that of an individual in the past but lives and suffers and transmits grace now in the lives of those who have committed themselves to him.
The revelation of Christ's divinity enters the world of human language and interaction through this renewal and reversal of identity. I am not who I thought I was; I have been told who I am, 'everything I have ever done', in the sense that I must revisit and see afresh all my memories, knowing that my self-awareness cannot overtake the knowledge of who I am that belongs to the revealer. What begins to come into focus as we acclimatise ourselves to the presence of Jesus in human history is the sense that we may be comprehensively wrong about who we are – and yet that there is a just and loving knowledge of who we are that is 'held' by the transcendent seer. And it is when we grasp just how comprehensive this is that we understand why it is the presence of nothing less than the transcendent that we identify in Jesus. If I can never 'catch up' with this seeing, this knowing, which claims to search out where I cannot go even within myself, there is no end in Jesus' presence to the recognition of a mystery in me that is beyond my reach – and so too of a mystery in every human subject, which is one of the ways in which Christian ethics begins.
Augustine famously said of God that he was 'more intimate to me than I myself'; and this is not an extravagant statement of devotion but a sober definition of the nature of revelation.
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