The introduction and all completed parts of In Pursuit of Jesus can be accessed at the top of this page. I am working on the final chapter, which hopes to present the messianic vision in the Tabernacle.
In the opening paragraphs of the introduction I try to put aside the way of theology and intellectual enlightenment in favor of the way of the disciple and love for God’s word; rather than heights of knowledge the heights of being known to the depth of our being by the One who has loved us since the earliest moments of Creation. This is the opening into a book which goes to Scripture to show that the person and sacrifice of our messiah, our king, are as fundamental to old covenant faith as to new. As a result we find ourselves in the continuing life of the Israel of God, not in the innovation of a gentile hierarchical structure fabricated by Constantine and centuries of church control. We find ourselves in an ancient faith which holds us intimately in the presence of the God of Israel.
Thank you, Lawrence Jones
Posted here are the opening paragraphs of the introduction:
The way of the disciple
The imperative is not that we achieve great visions of knowledge. It is that we know and be known by the One who opens to us the grave beauty of his person. It is admissible to come to the study of Scripture with hope and fear: inscribed on its pages lie the profiles of the One whom we seek.
Abraham walked with Isaac to Mount Moriah in the grim prospect of sacrificing that son. Abraham entertained an association of fear and confidence which we need to be our own. On the one hand, he knew that he did not know in all the world what might transpire to save his son. On the other hand, he had total confidence in the goodness of his God, confidence that the provision of the lamb, by whose blood every son might be saved, is written in the foundation of the world.
We go to the word of God, fearing for the limitations of our own intelligence and our own study, but confident in the ultimate truth and consistency of the narrative, confident in the purpose of our God to instruct us and draw us closer to his person.
There is a difference between the way of the disciple and the way of the theologian. The work of the disciple succeeds in passionate devotion to the mastery of the teacher. The work of the theologian proceeds in dispassionate objectivity.
The study of theology sets out to have knowledge of God through thinking and the critical study of Scripture. Theology is a study which can be pursued equally by those who have faith and by those who do not. The study of theology does not presuppose that, in order to arrive at knowledge, the participant must be engaged directly and personally in a relationship with the person of God.
By contrast, the authors of the books of the Bible do generally assume the imperative that the reader, like each individual portrayed in the biblical narrative, has need of radical engagement in a direct relationship with the person of God.
Anyone who reaches for God through the Scriptures is informed anecdotally and explicitly that in some way his consciousness and will must intersect with the consciousness and will of God, leading to the Spiritual birth which makes possible a life in the presence of God.
The Bible engages in theology only peripherally. The authors of the Scriptural writings place little value on theoretical knowledge of God that is not rooted in intimate knowledge of God. As James said,
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”…”
The authors of Scripture believe that to understand God, his will, and his kingdom one must respond radically to his claim to lordship over the individual.
“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and sup with him and he with me.”
In response to our opening the door, Christ enters the heart in love and healing and instruction. He educates us to a life which despairs of self-sufficiency and finds its resources in him.
As Jesus enters he speaks a command: that we are to love him with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
The fruitful response to this “command” is a strange mix of east and west: on the one hand infatuation and romance, on the other hand an assignment of union which begins in mere respect, but over time learns from him the content of love.
To discover that there is a divine person at the heart of the universe who knows me and has the most profound interest in my welfare leads to a falling in love which requires no command. At the same time there is need of a command to focus my attention, given that, in spite of being created in the image of the object of my love, I am the child of a tragically rebellious culture: I must swear fealty to my lord; I must by my will oblige myself to yield in all my passion to his restorative hand. I must be taught to love.
Christ expands the command to love God and our brother. He says that if we love him we must exhibit it by loving him in the discipline of obedience to his commandments. We are to be known as his disciples through our love of others and of him. In the life of rebellion we worked always to preserve our liberty. We lived under the law of the world, Ut fiat Libertas, do as thou wilt. Now in love for him our hearts are consumed by the desire to know and do his will, Fiat voluntas tua, thy will be done. Our hearts labor to know his highest desire for us, to know his law within our hearts. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The love of his will is the presence of his law within the heart. The love of his will originates in the presence of his substantial being, his Spirit, within the heart.