Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Christmas Words 1: Word

posted by Scot McKnight

“In the beginning,” the Gospel of John tells us, “was the Word.” He furthers this with this: “The Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The first Christmas word we will look at in our Advent 2007 series is Word.

Christmas is about God’s self-expression, God’s Word, in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Christmas message, if it is faithful to John 1:1-14, is the message about Jesus Christ. What God wants to say to us has been said in Jesus Christ.

First, as with Creation so now with the New Creation: it is the act of God. John establishes Advent, Christmas, and the Incarnation as the Act of God to Create.

Second, the Word is the Creator or, perhaps more accurately, God created originally through the Word.

Third, God originally created The Adam; now God’s work begins with the One who becomes Incarnate, taking on flesh and blood (1:14).

Fourth, for John there are almost certainly allusions to Wisdom and Torah when he uses the word “Word.” It is entirely reasonable to think, also, that some would hear the Logos of the Greek world — that by which all things cohere.

Fifth, this Word is a Person. The ultimate and final act of “wording” is “personing” because the “Word” is the communicative act of God. Our words gain meaning from this Word; our words represent and extend who we are to another. Here God’s Word is both “word” and “person.”



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RJS

posted November 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm


Scot,
I assume this means Acts is on hold until after Advent?
Good stuff.
John 1:1-14 isn’t often taken as a Christmas text, but It is absolutely central.



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stephen

posted November 30, 2009 at 1:56 pm


Scot, thank you for this post.
If you asked many Christians “what is the Word of God?” they would say the Bible, and pretty much stop there. But I think these five points reveal the Word is a much deeper concept than just the written words of scripture.
Part of the problem is the English definition of ‘word’ doesn’t take into account the full dimension of the meaning of ‘Word’ in the Christian context.



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Tim

posted November 30, 2009 at 5:22 pm


Guess what Christian tradition I hail from?
We change the question from “what” to “who” is the Word of God?
When you say “Word of God,” we think of Christ, the embodiment of God’s message to us first.
We say that the Word is what “proclaims Christ”
We understand the Bible the “manger which cradles Christ”
We receive the body and blood of Christ, claiming the promise or Word, “given for us” and “shed for us.”
We understand the Word as an “event that shatters and reorients life” instead of a “proposition that must be believed”
The favorite Gospel of our tradition’s namesake was John.
Tim



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AHH

posted November 30, 2009 at 7:55 pm


Does anybody know the history of the use of the phrase “Word of God” to refer to the Bible? It seems like this terminolody has contributed to some unhealthy aspects in modern Evangelicalism, sometimes bordering on Bibliolatry.
Probably we are stuck with that usage (unless we are Quakers or maybe Lutherans), in which case it becomes especially important to distinguish the incarnate Word from the written Word (and, in many Reformed traditions, the proclaimed Word). With the latter two having value not in their own right, but only in that they point us to the incarnate Word who is the primary value.



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Jim Martin

posted November 30, 2009 at 9:49 pm


Scot, I like this post. Maybe I enjoyed reading this post immediately after Thanksgiving because it reminds me of the wonder of Jesus’ birth and incarnation. I like what you did with John 1. Good to hear these words again.



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