True Love 

            This is beginning number four.  I think it works.  Before we start, I’d like to do a bit of a recap.  I foresee a revolution in the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.  I have been writing on several essentials of Christianity and how they tie into revolution, including a revolution of how we look at things.  Our point of view is very important because, as Ray Aldred noted at Urbana 2003, Western Christianity has become syncretistic with modernity.  And whether modernity is good or not, that we have become intrinsically bound with any ideology other than that of Christ crucified is a sign that something needs to change.  For many of us, that something is our mind before we can set out and change our lives.  We started this evaluation of orthodoxy and what that is both for thought and for life.  Then we considered how powerful the very name of Jesus, then asked simply, “Who is Jesus?”  For a powerful, life-changing examination of the last question, read Christology by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, published by Fontana.  It is phenomenal.  And now we turn to the basis of all Christian thought, life, and action: The Holy Bible.

Any discussion of the Bible must take into account far too many things for me to adequately address the topic.    First of all, we must admit that any orthodox discussion of the Bible must have a foundation.  One of the points of orthodoxy is having a sound foundation for living, thinking, and worshipping.  Therefore, if we are going to live, think, and worship through the Bible—and try to create some sort of Revolution in our lives and the Church as a whole—a firm foundation must be laid.  The first concrete to be poured onto this foundation is the definition of the Bible.  By the Holy Bible I mean Holy Scripture, being comprised of the commonly accepted Old Testament, Tanach, and the canonical New Testament.



Love Story

Read this book.  It contains everything.  You ask for love?  Read this book of the Crucified.  You wish to be good?  Read the book of the Crucified, which contains everything good.



I am my beloved’s and he is mine:

his banner over me is love.

-Lover, from Song of Songs by Solomon


            At its most basic, primal level, Song of Songs is an erotic love poem.  It is.  Try to make of it what we will, we cannot escape the fact that it is primarily an erotic love poem.  This fact in and of itself already teaches us something about the Bible.  The Bible says that erotic love and sex are okay.  As well, the Bible is far more diverse than a bunch of lists containing some form of the verb “to beget”, moral laws, and stories from ancient history.  It is all of these things, but the presence of Song of Songs is a reminder that the Bible is most certainly something more.  The Bible is the collective history of a people—their chronicles, their laws, their prophets, their stories, their hymns, their wisdom, and their erotic love poem.  Song of Songs reminds us how very exciting the Bible is, that things happen in the Bible.  And one thing that happens all over the place in the Bible is love.  Suddenly, Song of Songs becomes indicative of the whole Bible.  Song of Songs deals in eros, romantic love; the rest of the Bible is agape, the Divine Love.  Yet the eros of Song of Songs parallels the agape of the rest of the Bible.  Some liken the Bible to a love letter.  Not diminishing that analogy, the Bible is much more exciting than that.  The Bible is an agape-centric love story, which is far more involved than a love letter.  From the Creation to the Incarnation through to Revelation, the Bible is the story of God and his massive love for the world.  And rather than lecture about how the Bible goes about being a love story, I shall now relate to you that story of truest love.  I told this story at an evangelistic event put on by AL at St. Alban’s in February 2004.


True Love


            I guess “Once upon a time…” wouldn’t really be the way to begin this story.  This is a story that has more, well, foreverness than onceness, more eternalness than timeness.  So, let’s try this:  There lives a king, Elohim.  Elohim is a little hard to describe.  People have tried, often using words such as, “big, perfect, powerful, loving, just.”  One man saw Elohim, “sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1)  Elohim is truly glorious—one of his friends had to be shielded from Elohim’s glory so he wouldn’t be destroyed.  Know why Elohim shielded his friend?  Because Elohim loves his friend.  And that’s what this is, the story of Elohim.  The story of true love.

            Elohim is perfect in love.  Love really doesn’t work without a beloved.  So Elohim, since he is “big, perfect, and powerful” creates for himself an object for his love.  Out of nothing, with his very Word, he creates.  Kosmos.  Kosmos, as all of us know, is beautiful.  Behold the stars, the intricacies of an ant, whales, TREES, kittens, MOUNTAINS, a fresh snowfall.  Elohim looked on Kosmos and saw that it was good.  To inhabit Kosmos, Elohim makes for himself a friend who was capable of taking care of Earth, the little globe in Kosmos, and also of loving Elohim.  We’ll call Elohim’s friend Anthropos.

            But Anthropos, unlike Elohim, was not, is not, “big, perfect, or powerful,” and he had, has, will have, trouble being “loving, just.”  Anthoropos broke the rule Elohim made for him, that is to not eat of a certain tree.  And the trouble with breaking one of the laws of Elohim is this:  Elohim, as well as being “big, perfect, powerful, loving, just” is also eternal, holy, impeccable.  And he has already warned Anthropos that breaking the rule means death.  Anthropos had to die for his breaking of Elohim’s command.  But Elohim loves Anthropos.  So he sacrifices animals in Anthropos’ place.

            So, for years,  Anthropoi lived on Earth in Kosmos.  They did evil unto each other.  But Elohim is relentless in his love.  So he finds an Anthropos, Avram.  And he lays out a great plan for Avram, by which all Anthropoi forever will be blessed and saved from certain death.  He calls Avram to follow him.  Avram obeyed.  Indeed, Avram obeyed Elohim in all things, even being willing to sacrifice his son, the only inheritance he had.  Avram loved the loving Elohim.  Elohim decides to enter into covenant with Avram—that is, to make promises to bless Avram’s people and to dwell in community with Avram.  Avram was renamed Avrahm [Avraham], “ancestor of a multitude.”  And Elohim is not unfaithful, despite the unfaithfulness of Anthropos.  Avrahm’s son, Itzhak, had a son, Yaakov.  Yaakov was faithful to Elohim, and also had twelve sons.  He had many other relatives, and daughters and servants, and other people living in his community.  To escape famine, they moved to Egypt.

            Egypt was nice.  Youssef, one of Yaakov’s sons, was the right-hand man of the King of Egypt.  Eventually, though, Youssef died.  So did this king.  And a new man was king, years later.  And he hated the people of Yaakov.  He feared them, for they grew more numerous than the Egyptians.  He decided that all newborn boys were to be killed.  But Elohim is relentless in his love.  He ensures that one boy, Moishe, was saved.  Moishe actually grew up as a grandson of the King of Egypt.  He learned how to rule, how to do kingly things.  And then he did wrong—after learning his true identity, he killed an Egyptian who was beating one of his people and fled to the wilderness.  There, while hiding, as a shepherd, he meets Elohim.  Elohim, as well as being “big, perfect, powerful, loving, just, eternal, holy, impeccable, relentless” is also suprising.  So he comes in Moishe in a burning bush and tells Moishe to go back to Egypt and bring his people out of slavery into freedom.  Long story short, after a lot of protests from Moishe, and then the Egyptian king, Elohim lets his people go.  Elohim shows true love to Moishe and the people of Yaakov.

            They were in the wilderness for a while.  In the wilderness, Elohim does a lot of cool stuff for them, a lot of loving stuff.  He makes food appear from heaven.  He makes water come out of a rock.  He also speaks to Moishe.  And Elohim knows how Anthropoi ought to live to run a good society and avoid hurting themselves and others as well as disrespecting him (‘cause he knows everything).  So he gives Moishe a set of laws for them to abide by.  For breaking these laws and rebelling against Elohim, the ultimate punishment was death.  But Elohim allows them to make up for it, as he has with the first Anthropoi, with the blood of animals.  In order for there to be atonement and redemption, there must be blood.  Someone must die for salvation.  Elohim travels around with them in the desert as a cloud by day and a fire by night.  Eventually, they established a kingdom where Avrahm had established his own community.  This was fulfilling Elohim’s promise to Avrahm, whom he loves, because he loves these people.

            For hundreds and hundreds of years, Elohim dwells with these people and speaks to them.  He loves them so truly that he gives them a king when the ask for one, even though he knows they were better off without it.  Elohim is flexible, so he works a king into his grand design.  This isn’t unexpected for him, of course, so he has the way of working with a king in all along.  Because he’s “big, perfect, powerful, loving, just, eternal, holy, impeccable, relentless, surprising.”  That’s true love.  When Solomon asked for wisdom, Elohim gives him wisdom.  When Samson needed strength, Elohim gives him strength.  When the people fell into disobedience, Elohim has King Yosiah rediscover the book of the Law.  When the people still didn’t follow Elohim, although he has prophesied through men such as Isaiah and Yeremiah, they went into exile.  But in exile, Elohim never abandons his people.  He is with Dani’el in the den of lions, and with Hananiah, Misha’el, and Azariah in the burning furnace.  When his people returned to him, they were able to go home under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Because he loves them, they rebuilt the walls of their city, re-established themselves as a people, rebuilt the Temple.

            And then one day, Elohim does something new.

            Something surprising.

            Something none would have thought of.

            Elohim, in love with us more than we could possibly ask or imagine, becomes one of us.  He calls himself Y’shua, which means, “Yahweh saves.”  And so, Elohim does just that.  He is born, first of all, of a virgin.  She never slept with anyone.  It just happened.  Elohim does stuff like that—miracles.  Like the burning bush.  Or water from a rock.  Except this isn’t water from a rock—this is Elohim, Creator of Kosmos, lover of Anthropos, from a woman.  As Anthropos himself.

            Why?  I mean, if I were “big, perfect, powerful, loving, just, eternal, holy, impeccable, relentless, surprising,” I wouldn’t run about making myself Anthropos—small weak, helpless, trapped by Time.  But he does.  Elohim does this because of true love.  True love is willing to give up everything.  True love knows no boundaries.  True love is humble.  So Elohim, as Anthropos, as Y’shua, knows what it’s like to be human.  He weeps.  He knows hunger.  He knows pain.  He knows temptation.  He knows what cloth feels like against the skin.  He knows what it’s like to see a sunrise.  But, unlike you or I, he never goes against any of the stuff he has commanded.  Because he’s Elohim, right?  So he never sins—which is what rebellion against Elohim is.  So, whereas you and I are tempted, and we resist for five minutes, ten minutes, an hour, and eventually tend to give in unless we forget what we were tempted to do, he endures temptation for always.  I think Y’shua knows what it is to be human.

            Remember, since none of us can give a perfect sacrifice, there must always be blood.  So the people of Elohim always had this day, Yom Kippur, to atone for their sins.  Yom Kippurs came in an endless stream.  If only there could be a perfect guy who could just take away all our bad stuff and end this!  But Elohim mentioned this to a prophet.  That guy I mentioned at the beginning who had seen him sitting on the throne.  His name was Isaiah, and talked about this servant, this man who would bear our infirmities and carry our diseases.  This guy would be wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities.  Isaiah says, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (53:7)  Elohim laid on this servant the iniquity of us all.

            Yeah, so it turns out that this guy is Y’shua.  Y’shau leads a perfect life, right?  So he goes along, preaches all over the place, performs miracles, heals the sick and all that out of true love for Anthropos.  But some people get ticked right off at him.  So they take him before the governor, and the next thing you know—BANG!  A nail the size of a railway spike is going through Y’shua’s wrist.  Quite unfair, really.  And then one through his other wrist, another through his feet.  This is after he’s been flagellated.

            Yes.  Flagellated.  Crucifixion is bad enough.  They used this enormous whip with many whips attached—so each stroke would be more like nine or ten.  And attached to each of these was a myriad of bits of metal, bone, stone.  And with them, Romans would tear open living human flesh, turning the muscle the wrong way out.  Not pleasant.  They did this to Y’shua as well as a good, old-fashioned beating.  And to mock him, they placed a crown of thorns into his head.  I think we all know that thorns hurt.

            So they hung Y’shua on a cross.  While there, he does not cease to love, but asks forgiveness for his slayers.  And we are the slayers of Y’shua.

            Wait.  Slow the story train down.  How?  Well, here’s how it works.  We have all rebelled against Elohim, by stealing, lying, lusting, putting self-glory, self-empowerment, self-aggrandisement, self-comfort before Elohim, worshipping knowledge not loving our neighbours.  The list goes on.  So, we need a) Yom Kippur every day or b) a Saviour.  Y’shua comes to be our saviour.  So our sin, our bad stuff, our wickedness, is what caused him to hang there upon that cross.  And so, he who had no sin became sin for us.  Y’shua takes it all upon himself.  The iniquity of us all was upon him.  Our sin drove the spikes through his hands.  I shoved the crown on his head by giving a lustful glance to a girl.  You whipped him with a lie.

            But he seeks forgiveness for us anyway—that is true love.

            And Y’shua dies.

            But Elohim is “big, perfect, powerful, loving, just, eternal, holy, impeccable, relentless, surprising.”  Surprising.  Powerful.  So Y’shua gets raised from the dead on the third day.  He conquers Death.  Wow.  That’s powerful love.  That’s true love.  That’s a Yom Kippur for eternity friends, because Y’shua’s sacrifice is good for eternity.  That means we can avoid death—the eternal death of hell, which is the penalty of our sin—and get the benefits of Y’shua’s death and resurrection: atonement for sin—the eternal Yom Kippur.  All we have to do is ask Y’shua into our life, accepting the gift of true love.

            After rising from the death, Y’shua appears to around five hundred people.  Then he ascends to be one with Elohim again.  But he loves us.  So he appoints his followers, men like Cephus, for example, to carry his message to the ends of Earth.  And he sends the Holy Spirit upon his followers, and from this Spirit they are able to do anything in Y’shua’s name.  And they are able to teach the things of truth that Y’shua did not say while on Earth, and they taught with the authority of Scripture, writing letters to one another about the deep mysteries of Elohim and faith.  And the Holy Spirit comes as a counsellor, a comforter, to be with all of Y’shua’s followers.  And he is still with us today, because love means sticking around.  And he is Elohim, and Elohim loves us.  So Elohim sticks around.  And He comes back in the end, claiming his own for himself.  Because he loves his own.  Because he loves.

            True love.


All Scripture quotations from the NRSV.

I think Savonarola's quote was in The Lessons of St. Francis by John Michael Talbot.

Copyright 2004, Matthew Hoskin