Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Universe is a Metaphor

"Nevertheless, God created the heavens and the earth through the Word, sustaining and holding together the heavens and earth through this same Word. The universe is the result of God speaking, as only God can. God said, "Let there be light." Everything that exists is a visible word (Ps. 19). This does not denigrate or threaten the primacy of Scripture or sacraments at all. The Word and sacraments are not examples of God speaking as if He is silent in all other things. Rather, they are examples of God speaking to us in a clear manner so that we might come to understand how it is He has spoken in and through everything else.
So, God the Son is the ultimate Word. We also know the Holy Scriptures are the revealed Word and the oak tree on my property is a created word from God. And how are we trying to sort all this out? With words. We see the uncreated ultimate Word, we see the revealed inscripturated Word, we see the created words around us; and man, himself a created word in the image of this speaking God, sees everything in wonder, and speaks about that wonder in words.
Now the Bible teaches us that the created order speaks about God. But it speaks precisely because it is spoken. The universe speaks—not as an independent source of knowledge—but speaks as my words, for example, "speak" about me. The spoken always "speaks" about the speaker. What follows from this? Everything created therefore reveals something about the Creator. Everything is therefore, at some level, a metaphor. If every aspect of the created order reflects the glory of God, then we can rejoice in that fact. But after we have done this, we should push on into new territory. How does the created order glorify God? It does so through being like Him, distinct from Him, and, in some reflective way, identified with Him.
All things are therefore cognates. And the wide-eyed Christian should look around at the resemblances. The affinities are necessarily there. If a meadowlark is tied to some aspect of the Creator, and the tidal wave is reflective of another characteristic within Him, and so on, then what follows? All attributes within the Godhead are all internally consistent—He is never at odds with Himself. This means that all things in the universe (the meadowlark, tidal wave, and bamboo grove) are all created cousins at peace. And this is what makes effective "horizontal" metaphor within the created order possible. There is always a connection somehow.
What else follows? This view of things considers the poet more as seer, and less as maker, although he still genuinely "makes" in some sense. What the poet sees are the interconnections between apparently disparate things, but the interconnections which he sees are not imposed by him; they are a given, like the segments of an orange. The striking metaphor does not tie two isolated and fundamentally alien things together, but rather reveals a similarity initially spoken by God, and then discerned and declared by the poet. Of course this does not mean anything can relate in any way to any other thing. It has to relate in a way consistent with how God shaped the world. Some do not do this; this is why poor metaphors are also possible."
-Doug Wilson The Metaphorical Word


Blogger Carrie said...

Well, you seem to be doing quite a bit of reading yourself. =)

11/16/2005 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen, check out this take on C.S. Lewis.
- Kristin

11/16/2005 1:38 PM  

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