The Presbyterian News Service posted a beautiful yet troubling article, “Holy Handwriting.” It is about Phillip Patterson who has handwritten the whole Bible as, what could be called, a sacred act. A photographer, Laura Glazer, has added pictures to his work and they are beautiful, as is Patterson’s handwritten work. But some of his statements about his project are rather strange and one is troubling.Of his reasons for writing the PNS article quotes him, “I really wanted to know what was in it. The Bible is something that’s in most of our lives. Nobody’s read it. Nobody knows what’s in it…” Well perhaps most have not read it, or only parts of it. But nevertheless it is a beautiful act to write the words out like an ancient monk would have done.
But it was what Patterson discovered that bothered me—that is, part of it. Once again a quote:
“I learned something mostly about love. In spite of the fact that the Bible is filled with violence and all that other stuff, that’s ultimately not what the Bible is about. There isn’t any place in the Bible where it says, ‘Do not love thy neighbor’ or ‘Do not love,’” …“That’s the message that came through to me, that the whole book ultimately sums up: that we should love and that God is a vast and unknowable entity.”
Yes, that first part is true; “we should love.” But what about the second part, “God is a vast and unknowable entity.” How can we love if we do not know this great God? And isn’t that the whole message of the Bible? After the fall of humanity and the loss of fellowship with the Creator, God prepares a people, through Abraham, through Moses, through prophets and fathers and mothers of the faith—through his written word he reveals himself and comes in his eternal Son to gather us. He redeems us through Jesus Christ.How can we love without the real love, the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ? We love because he first loved us. And we know this vast unknowable God because Jesus Christ has revealed God.
When Philip, Jesus’ disciple, in despair that Jesus was going away, asks, “Lord show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus answers with questions and truth:Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? (John 14: 9a)
In both Philip’s request and Jesus’ answer are profound truths. It is enough that we should know the Father and we know the Father by knowing Jesus Christ. And that is possible because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The knowing is more than an intellectual knowing. The knowing is a relationship, a union with the Savior.Speaking of himself, Jesus says:
If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14: 23b-24)I pray that Patterson will begin to know, because of the written word, the living Word, Jesus. I pray that in loving Jesus, who first loved him, he will know also the Father and the Holy Spirit—that his knowing will be an intimate relationship with that huge unknowable God who is known only through Christ Jesus.