by Craig Drurey
I am one of those people! Yes, I enjoy reality T.V. shows—not all, but many. One in particular that I like is “Little People.” In case you have never had the pleasure of watching, this show has followed the Roloff family. The Roloff family consists of two parents who happen to be little people, three regular size children, and one son who is also a little person.
Those of us who have followed the Roloff family have witnessed the children growing up, going to college, and getting married. The family has experienced bumps along the way as well as many joyful and memorable experiences. As is typical of reality T.V., each person shares his or her perspective as these good and difficult experiences unfold. Each person has a unique, yet truthful, way of seeing a particular situation. If this show included, let’s say, only the father’s perspective, important depth and a full picture of the love this family shares would be missing from the story. Only as each person is heard, can this reality be shared in its full light.
I have been considering for some time the full meaning of incarnation. Incarnation, in its simplest conception, describes how God took on flesh. Jesus became human. Orthodox Christianity describes this tension as “being fully God and fully human.” In God’s desire to demonstrate God’s love for creation, God came and lived with us. God desired to experience creation from the perspective of one of God’s created—as a person.
Thomas Jay Oord’s recent book, The Uncontrolling Love of God, has caused me to consider further what this incarnation reveals about how God works with creation. It seems to me that this is how God takes on most, if not all, activity—in cooperation with creation. Jesus—fully God and fully human. The Church—fully God and fully human. Even in our individual faith journey, we like to say that God lives in us and with us. Why would the Bible be any different? If God always acts in cooperation with creation, then could we not say the same about the Bible? I assert that scripture was written, canonized, and even now is read through a process of being fully God and fully human.
Going back to the example of the Roloffs, we could not see the depth of love and interaction if only the father dictated his perspective to the camera. Indeed, we could understand to some extent, but I would suggest that we would not be able to fully connect with the family. God understands this dimension in God’s desire to unpack the reality of our family.
As the church, we have often described the Bible as God’s story. Indeed, it does reveal God’s interaction with creation. However, I think we leave out an important segment that God values when we describe scripture in this way. A more helpful way would be to describe scripture as not only God’s story, but our story—the story of how humanity has interacted with God.
In this view, God would never authoritatively dictate the words to be written, the books to be canonized, or our interpretation as we read today. Absolutely, God was, is, and will continue to be fully involved in the process of scripture. However, just like the Roloff family, God invites and desires full human interaction with scripture. The uncontrolling love of God makes for a much more beautiful view of scripture—a view where scripture is not only fully God but fully human. Scripture takes on the sometimes flawed humanity but still reveals a loving God perfectly.
How does this view change our interaction with scripture? We no longer have to argue the discrepancies, contradictions, and flawed views people have espoused over time. Tremendous amounts of time do not have to be consumed in an effort to force the Bible to become a history or science book. No longer can other biblical view camps claim that we throw out certain portions of the Bible. For in this view, we embrace the fully human parts along with the revelation of God and God’s desire to redeem all things.
With this perspective, we see just how beautiful the uncontrolling love of God really is. Just as Jesus took on human flesh and then took on all the sin, hatred, and violence we could throw at Him through the cross, God has done the same in scripture. Any flaw, discrepancy, or contradiction does not make the Bible less believable but more beautiful. God so loves creation that God is not threatened by human involvement. Instead, God actually cherishes, desires, and welcomes it. For the Bible tells me so!
Craig Drurey is a lifelong resident of Northeastern Ohio. He earned a Bachelor in Business Administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Wanting to deepen his walk with God, Craig then went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Northwest Nazarene University. He is currently in the dissertation phase for a Doctor of Ministry in Wesleyan Practices from Ashland Theological Seminary. He currently serves as the Director of Discipleship for Green Valley United Methodist Church. Craig is also an adjunct professor for a couple of Christian Universities. He teaches spiritual formation and discipleship courses helping students to understand and engage transformation in Christ.