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Luke: The Gospel of Amazement: A Book Excerpt
And now, all these years later, I would like to show you how I read Scripture, to show you what I've come to understand about engaging with the Scriptures at the level of the informed imagination. I do not intend to present a system or an outline of my own, even if I could. In this new series of explorations of the Gospels, I would simply like to share some of the discoveries I've made along the way.
Disintegration/Reintegration and the Holy Spirit
We are a disintegrated people. The signs of it are all around us. Every bird that flees when you're taking a walk is a reminder that the integrated place we once had with creation has been violated. We experience this when we witness the disintegration of every human relationship while our souls tell us that wife belongs with husband, friend with friend, child with parent. Yet at every turn we find it almost impossible to fit the fragmented pieces of the puzzles of our lives together.
This disintegration affects the way we come to the Scriptures as well. Some of us embrace the Bible with our hearts, which is right to do, and yet we do not bring disciplined minds into the process. Sometimes the reverse is true: we apply first-rate minds to the Bible and yet fail to be sensitive to what the Word is whispering to our hearts. In the end, it is not a heart problem, nor is it a head problem. It is an integration problem. We must ask the Lord to help us bring our whole self to the task of listening to the Bible. How can we begin to reconnect what became disconnected at the Fall? How can the heart and mind become reintegrated?
The imagination is the vital bridge between the heart and the mind. It is the means by which the Spirit begins to reconnect what was disintegrated by the Fall. This explains why the majority of the Bible is seeking to recapture our imaginations, whether it is the poetry of the psalms, the imagery of the prophets or the luminous parables of Jesus.
It is appropriate, then, that we start this series with Luke's Gospel, because he is more preoccupied with the Holy Spirit than any other Gospel writer. After all, it is Luke who, in his second volume, tells us the story of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. From the very beginnings of the church, the Holy Spirit was recapturing the imaginations of the first followers of Jesus, reintegrating their hearts and minds. The Spirit enabled them to bring selves made whole once more to the task of understanding those "secrets of the kingdom" (Lk. 8:10).
As we proceed in this process, we will discover a new appreciation for the work of biblical scholarship, for the men and women who have received the call to vocationally study the Word and share the fruits of their strenuous labor with you and me. Along the way we will discover a fresh appreciation of scholarship—not as an end in itself but as a beginning. Often we are tempted to believe that the commentary or the lecture is an end, the final word. Here are the facts: record, digest, and the work is done. To the contrary, I hope we will see that the thoughtful commentary is only where you and I begin. The lecture is only the seed, not the fruit. You and I are called to move forward on our own, interacting with heart and mind, continually asking what all the facts mean. This is our calling, just as academic scholarship is the calling of the commentator. Most of us are not scholars. Perhaps we should begin thinking of ourselves as "imaginators," or "biblical imaginators"—or, better yet, "christological biblical imaginators." We are being conformed to his image as we engage our hearts and minds, by means of the imagination, with the Word of God.
Michael Card is an award-winning musician, writer, and performing artist who is perhaps best known and most appreciated for the meticulous biblical study that supports the themes and lyrics of his creative compositions. His newest book, Luke: The Gospel of Amazement, is the first in his new Biblical Imagination Series.