Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining (1 John 2:7-8)
John speaks here about a commandment which is at one and the same time an old commandment and a new commandment. What is the old commandment of which John speaks? It was old in the sense that it is already there in the Old Testament. In Leviticus 19:18 the Law says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The commandment already existed in ancient Law. It was old in the sense that this was not the first time that John's hearers had heard it.
But this commandment was new in that it had been raised to a completely new standard in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. It could be argued that people did not really know what unconditional love was until they saw it in Jesus. A hamburger can become a new thing to a person when they taste it after it has been prepared by a master chef. A piece of music can become a new thing when orchestrated by a master conductor. An old thing can become a new experience in the hands of a master. And love became new in Jesus Christ.
In Jesus love became new in the extent to which it reached. In Jesus love reached out to the sinner and the outcast. Love became new in Jesus because He widened its boundaries until there were none outside its embrace. In Jesus love became new in the lengths to which it would go. Nothing anyone could ever do to Him could turn Jesus' love to hate. He could even pray for the mercy of God on those who were nailing him to the Cross.
In Jesus love reached a standard which it had never reached before, and it is by that standard that Christians far and wide are commanded to follow.
The theme of theology is the content of believing; the theme of depth theology is the act of believing, its purpose being to explore the depth of faith, the substratum out of which belief arises. It deals with acts which precede articulation and defy definition.
Theology speaks for the people; depth theology speaks for the individual. Theology strives for communication, for universality; depth theology strives for insight, for uniqueness. Theology is like a sculpture, depth theology is like music. Theology is found in books; depth theology is found in hearts. The former is doctrine, the latter an event. Theologies divide us; depth theology unites us.
Depth theology seeks to meet the person in moments in which the whole person is involved, in moments which are affected by all a person thinks, feels and acts. It draws upon that which happens to man in moments of confrontation with ultimate reality. It is in such moments that decisive insights are born.
The insights of depth theology are vague; they often defy formulation and expression. It is the task of theology to establish the doctrines, to bring about coherence, and to find words compatible with the insights. On the other hand, theological doctrines tend to move on their own momentum, to become a substitute for insight, informative rather than evocative. We must see to it that each has an independent status, a power and efficacy of its own which enables it to contribute something in the cooperation.
And yet man has often made a god out of a dogma, a graven image which he worshiped, to which he prayed. He would rather believe in dogmas than in God, serving them not for the sake of heaven but for the sake of a creed, the diminutive of faith. The vitality of religion depends upon keeping alive the polarity of doctrine and insight, of dogma and faith, of ritual and response, of institution and the individual.
~ Abraham Joshua Heschel
Jason E. Royle
Welcome to my blog. I'm an open-minded theologian committed to Christ-like compassion & understanding.
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