Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Quote of the day: literally

Quote of the day today goes to my late Grandfather, on reading prophecy / apocalyptic "literally", and the sitting capacity of women. What he writes is true and (towards the end) made me chuckle out loud on the train back from Wolverhampton:

Revelation... is by and large a book of symbols. There is indeed what one may call didactic writing in it. For example, there are plain statements about the second advent. But the attempts to carry through a literal interpretation founder on the rock of the patently symbolic character of much of it. It is written in sign language for the most part. The bulk of it was communicated by visions. John was (literally 'became') in the Spirit on the Lord's day and the unseen world was opened to him and, as in a great drama, successive visions passed before his view.

Think of Peter's vision in Acts 10. Being in a trance, Peter saw a great sheet let down by the four corners, wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts and creeping things and birds. Peter, though slow at first, came to see that this vision was full of significance - preparing him to recognise that God was no respecter of persons and that He would freely receive Gentiles who believed, as well as believing Jews. So it is with the visions seen by John. If we take them literally, we are in grave danger of getting only the husk, while missing the kernel - the true meaning.

There are those who insist on taking a grossly literal view. The book bears on the very face of it a warning against such treatment. It speaks, for example, of "a woman sitting on seven mountains", but no female ever had such sitting capacity!

- W J Grier, The Momentous Event

2 comments:

adrian reynolds said...

Aaah....didn't know you were in this Grier family line. Is there something good in the water over there?

Would have loved to meet him, I have found "Momentous event" very helpful though sadly have lent my copy on so it may be time for a intergalatic visit to the ICM Books Emporium...

I'm very jealous (in a non sinful way!!!!??) of you being able to read your own family's writings; especially coming from a family of strident non believers - still I'm rejoicing with you at such a grand heritage.

étrangère said...

The water's good in our part of Belfast, but I think it's got more to do with God's gracious covenant blessing in the family - praise him for his grace which works through families and breaks new into families :) I do rejoice in being able to read my grandpa's book, esp. since I never knew him; I've also enjoyed reading Machen, as his fight vs. liberalism in the Presbyterian church in the USA was what the same that my Grandfather found himself fighting when he returned from studying under Machen in Princeton to do his compulsary final year in the presbyterian college in Belfast.