Jul 1 2009

Abstracted Nouns

“Because of 18th century rationalism in our culture, we are the heirs of a tradition of thinking that downplays symbolism in communication. The assumption is that all truth comes in the categories of philosophical statements. We are very much at home reading St Paul because he uses abstract language: justification; sanctification; glorification; propitiation… We think that this is the best way to communicate and nail things down.

But this is not the way God communicates. God communicates in parables as well as abstract ideas. God communicates in architectural forms, in proverbs, in songs. God’s way of educating young people is the Proverbs. Our way is to make them memorise a list of abstract nouns. That’s what the Shorter Catechism is. The Proverbs have a different way of communicating, a way that is much more holistic. It strikes the human personality at a deeper level.”

–James B. Jordan, The Bible as Picture, Basilean Lectures 1990.

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