Opening up the “Closed Canon”

One of the bedrocks of the conservative faith of my youth was the “closed canon.” This meant that the Bible was the “final” word of God and must be taken completely and used as a rule book. This gave rise to a popular bromide, “God said it, believe it, that settles it.”  This mind set left no room for heart felt, intuitive interpretation of the scripture as the Bible was not seen as literature but as “fact.” This approach to “the Word” was static, allowing no dynamic flow of spirit to take place and preventing the Pauline “Word” which is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

This belief presents a Word which is only a word, a mere “object” and not a dynamic process. Furthermore, it reflects the belief in a static, objectified god who is not really a “God” but a mere “thing” among other “things.” This belief also reflects the materialistic drift of our culture for the past few hundred years in which mankind sees himself as separate and distinct from the world, not realizing that in this uncritical approach to his faith he is seeing and experiencing himself as separate and distinct from God. “God” is not a “thing”. I am not a “thing.” I am a process and even here, at this moment, I am merely discoursing about another “process” which I prefer to describe as a “Process.” As W. H. Auden noted, individually and collectively, we are but a “process in a process in a field that never closes.”

But, alas and alack, I suddenly find myself up to my halo in still another blasphemy—relativism! When you begin to see the Word of God as a dynamic process that can never be “closed”, you have opened Pandora’s box and various dimensions of “uncertainty” make their escape. The doubt, anxiety, and vulnerability that begins to seep into the heart explains why the certainty was so rigid. It kept the “demons” at bay. But, until these “demons” are released, they live in the hidden recesses of our heart and inevitably lead to projections onto the outside world. Our beliefs reveal as much about our own heart as anything else. When you see a “true believer”, you are face to face with a scared little child who is terrorized by the fragility of his little life. He has glommed onto dogma and can never let it go without experiencing some of that terror which predicates his existence in the world.

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2 thoughts on “Opening up the “Closed Canon”

  1. Anne-Marie

    Thank-you. I love it. Yesterday I became a novice oblate of the World Community for Christian Meditation. I cried. I am stepping out of my comfort zone. One of the things we talked about was that reading scripture is often meant to make us uncomfortable…to pierce the heart. A-M

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