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Contemplations on the Scriptures
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One of the consequences of this writer's efforts directed toward understanding the meanings behind the music and lyrics of Christian rock is that he tends to gain greater insight into the Scriptures. After all, to understand the lyrics, one must know where they are found in the Bible. And since the Bible is a set of continuous books, as opposed to simply brief anecdotes, one must also study the context of the the text. For example, when Jesus was on the cross, he called out to the Father "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34). One may think that this is a cry of despair. However, Jews in first century Israel would have known that Jesus was referring to Psalm 22 in its entirety. Further reading of this psalm reveals both a deep trust in God (vs 22-31) and God's final victory over all of the earth forever (vs 32).
To understand the lyrics, one must know where they are found in the Bible.
For this writer, two particular sets of scriptural passages have stood out as quite profound, which this writer believes is a consequence of his delving into the Scriptures while dissecting Christian rock lyrics, as well as by listening to learned individuals such as Bishop Barron with his Word On Fire podcast and Matt Fradd on the Pints With Aquinas podcast discuss the Scriptures. The first set to be discussed here is found in Exodus Chapter 3, where Moses conversation with God via the burning bush are written; the second scriptural passage will be discussed in a later post.
With regards to the burning bush, these two verses in particular stand out:
2. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him as fire flaming out of a bush. When he looked, although the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed. and
14. God replied to Moses: I am who I am. Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.
Why are these two passages so profound? Verse 2 states that the bush was on fire, but was not being consumed. This striking statement goes against the basic knowledge that a bush on fire would be destroyed, since the fire would be a destructive force. Yet, it was not. What does this mean? It signifies (thank you Bishop Barron!) that God is not one being among many in this world, such that he has to push things out of the way to enter (this latter behavior is what one sees when one reads of Greek and Roman gods, who tend to destroy when they enter our world). Rather, God's entry into our world brings light and fullness to us, making us fully alive. We shine with His grace, which brings us life, not destruction.
Verse 14 is equally compelling. Here, God replies to Moses "I am who I am" and "I AM". Both of those statements seem quite cryptic, appearing as nonsensical or partial statements. However, the explanation for these phrases was discussed and explained by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, Question 3. If one studies St. Thomas's answers, one will learn that St. Thomas reasoned that God's essence is existence (thank you Matt Fradd!). That is, God is the sheer act of being. This is a philosophically deep subject that, for this writer at least, is taking some time to fully understand, and this writer encourages you to read St. Thomas's answers in detail.
After reading these two verses, the observation then comes to mind that both of these concepts seem to be quite foreign to the average person. While St. Thomas was a very intelligent man, and an avid student of logic and philosophy, how then did these ideas come to be included in this early book of the Bible? One could postulate that the early writers of the Bible were also quite knowledgeable; however it seems just as likely or more likely to this writer that they are descriptions of an event that actually transpired. How did they transpire? By God's entering into our world and communicating with Moses.
While other paths can be taken to appreciate the impact of these two scriptural passages, certainly efforts made by this writer to understand the intentions of the Christian rock artists has heightened both his understanding as well as his desire to understand and delve into the Scriptures. Hopefully this discourse will encourage you to not only make efforts to truly pull out the intentions of Christian rock artists, but will also encourage you to delve more deeply into the Scriptures.
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