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Monday, December 21, 2015

Logos

“The lion was pacing to and fro about that empty land and singing his new song... Polly was finding the song more and more interesting because she thought she was beginning to see the connection between the music and the things that were happening. When a line of dark firs sprang up on a ridge about a hundred yards away she felt that they were connected with a series of deep, prolonged notes which the Lion had sung a second before. And when he burst into a rapid series of lighter notes she was not surprised to see primroses suddenly appearing in every direction. Thus, with an unspeakable thrill, she felt quite certain that all the things were coming (as she said) “out of the Lion’s head.” When you listened to his song you heard the things he was making up: when you looked round you, you saw them” (C.S. Lewis Magicians Nephew p.126).

Plato, the Greek philosopher, reasoned there must be an “idea” (or “form”) in the spiritual world that stands behind every object in the material world, one that preceded its existence. And if that idea exists, there must be a mind that conceived it and spoke it into being. These three transcendent realities—a divine mind, an idea, an utterance—Plato combined into one absolute and named it the “Logos” (the Word).

Plato was very near the truth, so near, in fact, that early Christians referred to him as “one of our own.” But though he caught a glimpse of “the true Light that gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9), he did not fully comprehend it. Something more was needed, something tremendous, something yet to come, something the wisdom of man could not conceive: “The Word (Logos) became flesh and dwelled among us …” (John 1:14). The divine Logos and a mortal man together bore one name: Jesus. This is what Christians call The Incarnation, the final, irrefutable proof that God really, really cares.

American Theologian Frederick Buechner had this to say: “We all want to be certain, we all want proof, but the kind of proof that we tend to want — scientifically or philosophically demonstrable proof that would silence all doubts once and for all — would not, in the long run, I think, answer the fearful depths of our need at all. For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind to keep the whole show going, but that there is a God right there in the thick of our day-to-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars, but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world.  It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want, but whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God’s presence.  That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get” (Secrets in the Dark, p.16).

All through the Old Testament we read that God has been doing his best to get next to us, humbling himself, condescending to make himself known, but nothing can match what happened that night in the little town of Bethlehem. It was there that the Logos became the little Lord Jesus, a helpless infant with unfocused eyes and uncontrollable limbs, needing to be breast–fed, swaddled, cuddled and cared for, “the infinite made infinitesimally small,” G. K. Chesterton said. That is indeed the miracle we’re really after and the miracle that we got: The Logos become Immanuel: God with us.

John speaks of the Logos in a most personal way: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled—(this was) the Word (the eternal Logos)!” (1 John 1:1).

John was astounded by the thought that he had heard and seen Plato’s Logos, and held him in his hands.[1] The one who made up the universe “out of his head” and spoke it (or sang it) into existence was “pleased as man with men to dwell.” Why did He do it?

It was love—pure and simple.

David Roper


[1] The Greek word translated “handled” suggests something more than a tentative touch. It has the thought of familiarity and affection—perhaps a hug.

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