Tongues of Fire

“The entire free world could be shipwrecked by a teleprompter.”

I remember Carl Sagan commenting on the oddness of books, a collation of leaves covered in squiggles, in symbols. This is only odd if you are a godless fool (biblically defined) whose worldview is entirely at odds with reality.

Sadly this applies to many Christians, who have compromised the foundations of their faith, and pass this corruption on in many Bible colleges.

Man makes symbols because God makes symbols. Man is God’s symbol, God’s logo, pointing to God. Man chose to become a defaced symbol and made bad symbols. God became man to point man back to God, to restore the image. Redemption is the high art of the Logos. It is the men without true symbols who are weak, who are, in the end, less-than-men, men with symbols that mean nothing, despite the chaos and carnage they create in the meantime. James Jordan writes:

The study of symbolism is seen by some as a curiosity, rather far removed from the central matters of life. Anyone who spends time studying Biblical symbolism may well be getting into a “dangerous” area. Persons who engage in an “overly symbolic” interpretation of Scripture are to be regarded with suspicion. What matters is the study of reality; symbolism is secondary.

From the Biblical point of view, however, the reverse is the case. Symbolism is more important than anything else for the life of man. Since this is a manifesto, let me repeat that statement in italics: Symbolism is more important than anything else for the life of man. Anyone who does not understand this has yet fully come to grips with the philosophy of Cornelius Van Til, or more importantly, with the biblical doctrine of creation.

How can I write this so confidently? Simple. The doctrine of creation means that every created item, and also the created order as a whole, reflects the character of the God Who created it. In other words, everything in the creation, and the creation as a whole, points to God. In short, everything is a sign or symbol of God. The idea that everything is a symbol of God, His character, nature, ways, etc., is the foundation stone of the philosophy of Cornelius Van Til. The doctrine of creation ex nihilo is the basis of the Vantillian doctrine of natural revelation.

And not only so. Just as everything in creation is a general symbol of God, so also man is the special symbol, for man and man alone is created as the very image of God (Gen. 1:26). Each individual human being, and the race as a whole (Gen. 1:27), symbolizes God in a special way. What is this special way? Theologians have debated the issue, and no one will ever fully understand it (since to do so we should have to understand fully the nature of the God whose symbol we are). All the same, this much can be said: Man is the only symbol which is also a symbol-maker. Since this is a manifesto, let me say that again: It is of the essence of man’s divine imagehood that he is a symbol-making creature.

(The safest way to precede is to note what is said about God in the preceding verses of Genesis 1. This is the context in which it is then said that man is the image of God. God has been presented as one who determines, creates, evaluates, names, takes counsel among Himself, etc. These things are what man uniquely images.)[1]

If you believe Pink Floyd, the only factor that differentiates humans from apes is our ability to talk. [2] In fact, it’s not near impossible for this to have evolved, it is absolutely impossible. If natural selection were actually capable of producing progress (it isn’t) and might is right, why do words have so much power? It is because they did not come at the end; they came at the beginning, “at the (river)head” as Genesis 1:1 says. Adam could hear, speak, and, most likely, write. Language is not a new development. It is the way it has always been. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and this practical knowledge of the truth brings dominion. Fictional 12-year-old prodigy (and atheist) Paloma Josse notices this discrepancy between evolutionary theory and reality, and writes,

“The strong ones
Among humans
Do nothing
They talk
And talk again”

“…nothing is harder or more unfair than human reality: humans live in a world where it’s words and not deeds than have power, where the ultimate skill is mastery of language. This is a terrible thing because basically we are primates who’ve been programmed to eat, sleep, reproduce, conquer and make our territory safe, and the ones who are most gifted at that, the most animal types among us, always get shafted by the others, the fine talkers, despite the latter being incapable of defending their own garden or bringing a rabbit home for dinner or procreating properly. Humans live in a world where the weak are dominant. This is a terrible insult to our animal nature, a sort of perversion or a deep contradiction.” [3]

In the beginning was the Word. The Creation order was spoken to, delegated to, the Son, by the Spirit. The Son’s obedience bore fruit, by the Spirit. Ideas have consequences precisely words take on flesh, because electricity moves the muscle; the elite control the workers.

All of God’s speeches are carefully deliberated and meticulously structured. When the Father issues a command, He never wishes He hadn’t pressed “Send.” All His Words, even the curses, are blessings in the long-run. The words of sinful man also build up and cut down. Words are power; words are crucial. The entire free world could be shipwrecked by a teleprompter.

The 5-fold Covenant model and the 7-fold matrix each have words at every point. The source-Word from God to His delegated Head, the delegate’s word to the body, the body under the word, the body’s witness to the truth of the word, and the totus’ oath at the marriage supper on the garden spring, leading to children carrying the word as rivers into the nations. God-Dad-Mum-Kids, God-Dad-Mum-Kids, God-Dad-Mum-Kids…

James 3:1-12:

Creation – Source of Word (Genesis)
My brethren,
…..let not many of you
……….become teachers, (Law given)
……………knowing that (Law opened)
……….we shall receive (Law received)
…..a stricter judgment.
For we all stumble in many things.

Division – Delegation of Word
If anyone
…..does not stumble in word,
……….he [is] a perfect man,
……………able also to bridle the whole body.
……….Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths
…..that they may obey us,
and we turn their whole body.

Ascension – The Altar-Land above the Gentile Sea (man as Covenant Head)
Look also at ships:
…..although they are so large
……….and are driven by fierce winds,
……………they are turned by a very small rudder
……….wherever the pilot desires.
…..Even so the tongue is a little member
and boasts great things.

Testing – Discerning the Spirits
See how great a forest a little fire kindles!
…..And the tongue [is] a fire,
……….a world of iniquity.
……………The tongue is so set among our members
……….that it defiles the whole body,
…..and sets on fire the course of nature;
and it is set on fire by hell. (BAD Shekinah)

Maturity – Swarms/Armies (Covenant Body)
For every kind of beast and bird,
…..of reptile and creature of the sea,
……….is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.
……………But no man can tame the tongue.
……….[It is] an unruly [lawless] evil,
…..full of deadly poison. (Cup of Sanctions)

Conquest – Coverings and Sanctions/Oath
With it we bless our God and Father, (Transcendence)
…..and with it we curse men, (Hierarchy)
……….who have been made in the similitude of God. (Ethics)
…..Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. (Sanctions/Oath)
My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (Continuity)

Glorification – Covenant Succession
Does a spring send forth
…..fresh and bitter [water]
……….from the same opening? (Singularity)
……………Can a fig tree,
……….my brethren, bear olives, (Plurality)
……….or a grapevine bear figs?
…..Thus no spring yields
both salt water and fresh.

Our words are barrenness or fruitfulness, Eve offspring or serpent offspring.

[1] James B. Jordan, Symbolism: A Manifesto. [PDF]
[2] Pink Floyd, “Keep Talking,” The Division Bell.
[3] Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, p. 53.
Thanks to my atheist friend, Mitch Griggs, for pointing out the video.

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