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Friday, February 17, 2023

Thoughts From an Early Christian

Origen lived from about 185-253 C.E. He was influenced by Plato (as were most of the early scholars) and Clement of Alexandria among others. Many have said he is the most brilliant and greatest genius the early church ever produced. On my Kindle this morning I was re-reading a book of his. I chose the below quote to discuss with you this morning.

For so long as any one is not converted to a spiritual understanding, a veil is placed over his heart, with which veil, i.e., a gross understanding, Scripture itself is said or thought to be covered: and this is the meaning of the statement that a veil was placed over the countenance of Moses when he spoke to the people, i.e., when the law was publicly read aloud. But if we turn to the Lord, where also is the word of God, and where the Holy Spirit reveals spiritual knowledge, then the veil is taken away, and with unveiled face we shall behold the glory of the Lord in the holy Scriptures. 

This idea, it seems to me, explains the wide array of opinions and theologies that endeavor to speak of what the scriptures say. They start with the same documents, but do not argue the same understandings. Some say this or that and others say the opposite. What are we to think? Origen notes that reading the scriptures without spiritual understanding is to read them through a veil.

It seems to me, that thought is related to Plato's, Aristotle's, and Augustin's idea that Virtue is necessary to know God. Origin tells us to turn to the Lord and let the Holy Spirit reveal spiritual knowledge.This leads me to Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading. This practice has been used by the mystics across times and places. It is part of "modern" Christian practice, brought forward by Centering Prayer and many current leaders in new Christianity.

With no agenda, no predetermined idea of what it should mean, or what you were told it means - with open heart and mind read a line of scripture slowly, read it word by word, re-read it, sit in the silence and let it roll in your mind. After just a few minutes, write down any ideas that come to you. Just write without evaluating, it's called stream of consciousness. After no more than 5 minutes, then go back and read what you wrote. Often you will be amazed at the thoughts that came through you.

It takes practice, but the veil can be removed. Let those with eyes, see, those with ears, hear.

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