The Blind Monks
or Bible SatNav
The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly. (Wikipedia)
It struck me this morning, as I read one of my regular theology blogs, that theologians don’t much use diagrams. The blog post in question used over a thousand words to describe something that is inherent in the architectures (both literary and spatial) found in the Bible.
What this means is that, for the most part, the way we communicate theology is foreign to the way our God does it.
One drawback of listening to James Jordan lectures is the fact that the listener misses out on his whiteboard diagrams. I have no idea if they are any good, but Jordan thinks “spatially.” As I’ve become familiar with the “domains” described in the Bible, and how the literary structure follows the same pattern, it has become apparent that a great deal of theology is blind men feeling their way around an elephant. Not only do they not realize it is an elephant, what they also fail to see is that the elephant is in a room.
I’m sure this all sounds a bit arrogant. I’ve been gifted with the ability to think visually and musically. Please note that this has come with many disadvantages. I don’t understand people very well, I’m terrible at team sports, and I have a tendency to be obsessive. But it does mean I am able to think outside the box. This is generally because the one thing I cannot see, however hard I try, is the box. If I can see the internal logic in something, the boxes built by well-meaning scholars become irrelevant.
Here are two examples:
As I commented to a hyperpreterist friend recently, the reason I agree with HP interpretations of certain texts are the very same reasons I am not a hyperpreterist. The internal logic of the Bible makes plain to me where the “partial” preterists are wrong, but it also knocks hyperpreterism on the head. The HP is holding the trunk and the PP is holding the tail. They are both right and they are both wrong. They blindly hurl proof texts back and forth at each other with no regard to the architecture of the Bible. And when I point this out, they ridicule “structure” as an unnecessary ornament.
The best theologians are paedobaptists. Yet, once again, the internal logic of the Bible shows this doctrine to be erroneous. It can only be maintained by destroying the spatial and literary architecture of the Scriptures. I know I have written over a thousand words about paedobaptism, but what they describe is a relatively simple picture which develops through Bible history. Objections come from the monk holding the foot, or flipping the tail, or lifting the eyelid, and I am struck by their inability to understand the integrity of what I am describing. They seem to have all their doctrines filed in separate boxes and in many cases are unable to see how they relate to each other. For me, it is a single picture, and paedobaptism does far more than merely mess up the feng shui. One online friend said the Bible Matrix was the best argument against paedobaptism. Another commented that there are other ways of looking at Scripture. Well, sure there are, but surely these different ways of looking at it shouldn’t contradict each other. Internal logic is internal logic.
The Lord is obsessive about structure, and we now have thousands of books on theology without any thought of it whatsoever. I come into a debate with all my chess pieces in place and my objectors are still trying to figure out what material their pieces are carved out of.
Once again, I’m sure this sounds arrogant. Things that are obvious to me are not obvious to others. When the idea of the Bible Matrix hit me a few years ago (after listening to James Jordan on the Revelation), its implications and possible advantages were obvious. It was plain that this was the Bible’s SatNav, and the authors of the Scriptures seem totally aware of it. It came fully formed, fully connected, and its implications simply needed to be worked out. When I explain it, the response is usually, “that’s nice,” or “how interesting.” But a handle on the internal logic of the Scriptures has the potential to answer every theological debate.
Apparently, Albert Einstein was a frustrating lecturer. He would jump all over the place with little explanation, just like the authors of the New Testament (and James Jordan, for that matter). The reason is possibly that connections that were obvious to Einstein needed to be explained to his students. I’m no Einstein, but when I started writing about this stuff, what I wrote was extremely “dense.” I’ve learned to spell out every step, to “show my workings.” I’m hopeless at math, but this is the problem facing a 13 year old math prodigy in the UK. He can simply “see” the answer, but the system requires him to show how he got there, which is a good discipline.
The advantages of biblical eidesis, or “fracto-spatial” thinking, are becoming more apparent to me as I work through Bible Matrix III. I am drawing diagrams I have had in my head for over five years, yet, once they are drawn, I notice further connections within them which vindicate their veracity. It feels like somebody has been here before me. I can’t wait for you to see the complete book.
Anyhow, apologies again for the apparent arrogance. And I have written an entire post to explain a single observation. WordPress tells me it is 1000 words.
See also The Eye of Sound. Please note that my “Bible mind map” will not appeal to the Blind Monks.