B. DYBWAD BROCHMANN
THE ART OF READING THE BIBLE
Christ and Imagery
We see that the disciples are often complaining that Christ talks in images or pictures.
In Matthew 13:3, it says: “And he spoke many things unto them in parables…” In verse 10, it says: “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?”
Jesus answers in Verse 13:
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear”.
In verse 34, it says: “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them”,
And in verse 35, it says: “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world”. (Copied from the Bible.com Website).
Mark 4 talks in a similar way, but with an addition in verse 34: “but when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples”. (It is especially these words in Mark that many good people have interpreted in such a way, that the real truth about Christ is only intended for “the initiated/those in the know”. People have wanted to make use of the Savior of the world in the area of esoteric occultism, i.e. a secret wisdom about mysteries only intended for a certain spiritual “over class”. It can’t be completely denied that Christ in part really was an “esoteric” and spoke differently for the initiated than for the commoners and for the clergy. Christ adopted a different attitude with these two groups of people, as compared to the disciples, whom He had chosen out of the masses Himself.
But Christ doesn’t show any sign of being esoteric as a kind of spiritual snobbery. He leaves that to Herod, the Anthroposophists, and to the “spiritual” ones of our day who show more and more tendencies to want to be the “spiritual over class”, and to divide the human communities into “caste formations”. Look at Rudolf Steiner and “dividing into threes”; there is nothing similar to this with the Savior).
Christ expects different spiritual and mental carrying capacities and qualifications. For example He says the following in John 16:
12 “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you”. (Copied from the Bible.com Website).
Surely, the Savior can’t say more clearly that we are a “work in progress” in the creative workshop of the Spirit? In John 16:25, He says: “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father”. (Copied from the Bible.com Website).
Here Christ expects that we move forward toward a development when we have grown past using symbols and can speak freely about everything.
It is just lack of knowledge and vanity that deny that we, as individuals and as a society, have begun in a spiritual kindergarten, and that we were, are, and will be products of the creative development. If we see this, then it shouldn’t be difficult to see the continuation, i.e. completely understand the awful catastrophe that the world now is in. Please don’t listen, as I said before, to those who interpret The Bible as a ready-made program, who draw diagrams and other strange things, “predict” our future, and show Our Lord the guidelines He will please abide by. The world is full of those kinds of false prophets, especially now.
The word of God, the word of the Savior, may not be understood as a description of a fatalism that has already been decided, so that we shall just sit still with our hands folded in our lap and wait that everything will happen after the recipe. That is a big misunderstanding of The Bible. This isn’t what is important with the description of Judas, or in the words of Jesus to the educated: “Just continue like your fathers have done”.
The teachings and imagery of Christ show us a holy unwavering order that our whole being, universe, and nature are tied to. Nothing is by chance or arbitrary, without plan or idea. The laws of life are not laws for slaves that make us into slaves, like the peoples’ laws of sham reality, but laws of life liberate us and give us omnipotence in exactly the same tempo and area as we acknowledge the laws of life. This is why imagery is necessary. We can’t know everything all at once, because we can’t bear it. We may be initiated into God’s wisdom, and receive a part of His omnipotence, to the same extent as we are able to mature.
When we, for example don’t give matches to a child, it’s because we want them to have a little more knowledge and self-control before we dare to give them matches, because we know the dangerous dynamics of fire. Therefore the Savior says that the others who are vain, and don’t have the same calmness as you do, will see, and see without understanding, and hear, and hear without understanding anything. That’s why He speaks about not throwing pearls before “swine”, because there are spiritual swine that are completely satisfied with spiritual swine food. He can’t say it much clearer than that. However, this isn’t any caste “formation” or esoteric like the Free Masons. He opens up the door for everybody, and each person puts himself or herself where they want to be according to mentality, level of development, and self-control.
Look at an example from our times, look at the unevenness in the growth of our culture. On one side we have researched the powers of nature a great deal. We have “removed the soul” of all the river sprites, trolls, and demons in the natural forces, and thereby have arranged everything for a material release. But we’re behind in mental development, so we can’t master excess. We burn boatloads with grain and coffee, so “the prices will go up”. We’re still stuck in “our problems”. We still haven’t removed the demons in ourselves, so we continue to tumble around in our dreams of “the power of money”, “the power of capital”, “the power of the state”, “the power of the times and the business cycle”, etc. Why do we do that? The reason why is because we know the natural forces outside of us better than the spiritual powers and mental powers inside of us. We can interpret the signs of heaven and we have meteorological weather reports. We know the seasons in nature and understand the difference between winter, summer, fall, and spring. We understand that we can’t harvest carnations if we plant dandelions in the earth. However, the world of the Spirit is still foreign to us. We don’t understand that the demons of war are the flowering of the spiritual seed of the Church and the banks. We call “politics” the evil of society because we think about that desiring your neighbors’ goods is the same thing as organizing hell on earth. We go violently to works against evil, because we still haven’t understood that, by doing do that, evil will then become dangerous and much stronger.
We see the unevenness in growth when we as spiritual children discover dynamite and fire arms, before we have learned to control the centripetal drives and the all souls’ power stations. We understand something about solar energy, so we make use of that, but we still don’t understand the energy of light in the word of God, the real “sun” in our existence, and therefore don’t reckon with the power of light and enlightenment. We believe in the power of organization because we don’t understand that the power of delusion weighs heavily on the destiny of the world of reality.
We over rate what we call “common sense” because we still haven’t been able to admit to our own limitations. There is uneven growth in many areas. Maybe you want to ask God why He let us discover gunpowder and bullets before we were more aware of the risks and chances in or own nature? I don’t know. It’s possible that exactly these huge wars and the terrible misuse of technical and chemical development is one of the most effective ways to awaken the dead and those who are deep asleep. The fantasy of the world, and especially the fantasy of scientific experience, might in that way have the greatest possibility of discovering itself. We will see.
It is true that Christ tries to avoid unevenness in growth. His patience is so great that He sometimes says: “How long shall I tolerate you?” (Mathew 17:17). It’s clear in this connection that He wants His disciples to better understand how much omnipotence still lies latent in us.
Based on what was just mentioned, we want to make it clear why Christ speaks using images, and why He discusses in an artistic way. He constantly refers to the prophets and strictly warns against the clergy’s way of interpreting the prophets. We should read The Bible as the highly inspiring work of art and great spiritual work that it is. In addition, we should try to find the spiritual “cloud” (cloud of religion or theology) that took the Savior away from our eyes at a certain time, while we slept a two thousand year long heavy sleep. We should try to get as much of the light of truth in us as possible, so that the cloud disappears on the Mountain of Transfiguration. “Then we won’t see anyone else but Jesus standing there alone”, as it’s written. However, The Bible and its prophecies about the future (Revelations) are not written so that we will participate in the fool’s and the sect’s guessing game or prophesy about the future, and act smarter than we truly are. His Light is enough for us. It doesn’t say in the teachings of Jesus: “I say unto you that you shall sit still and apathetic and arrogantly wait for the word of God to be fulfilled”. What it does say in John 13:19 is the following:
“Now I tell you before it comes, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He”.
Sometimes we have to read The Scriptures partially from back to front to get properly oriented. We need to learn to identify and perceive correctly.
We see from Christ’s own words, and from allegorical methods, that He looks at us as spiritual children. We also see that He is very conscious of His own method. Nothing happens by accident with Christ. We see that the reason for this is that we will have time to reflect properly. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. We will see and see, and hear and hear, but still neither hear nor understand. We will get to know the law and order of God in the great garden. We will understand the goals, plans, and reasons for life, and be tolerant with ourselves, and each other. We need to be careful that we don’t puff ourselves up and call ourselves teachers, since we have no other teacher than Christ, and he didn’t take an examination or eat from the Tree of Knowledge. We shall not participate in guessing games and agitate to acquire “members” for sects and parties. If we are of the truth, “living streams of water will flow through us”, and these will witness about us, and about which spirit lives within us. We will judge the fruits, and we shall perceive correctly. No one can make a mistake about the fruit of the teachings of the Norwegian Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church, except for those who have to make a mistake and “be lost”, together with their false culture.
Therefore, the reader should not understand my writings as a complete “dogma teaching”, or as an infallible orienteering to life. I mean that I am the last one to understand everything. However, the Light that God has given me, I use to see with and go with as long as my capabilities and strength suffice.
That said, I hope that I have sufficiently established the view I have espoused regarding the art of reading The Bible - that it is very likely correct.
Not everyone can be poets or seers. Those who are should be listened to by every society for their own good and looked up to, just as we look up to the great composers. Not everyone can be a composer. Only those with musical talents should try to imitate and interpret the composers. Only people with real inspiration should give out books. It is just as shameful and impudent when dozens of people are educated to be professors in theology because they are permanent positions. This is completely against what Jesus has said and the inspiring great work that is The Bible. It is more than embarrassing to come to “the state Churches” and hear spiritless and banal preachers appear to be interpreting the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is just as bad as when people with no musical ability try to interpret Beethoven, Mozart, or Bach. However, this is much, much worse and much more dangerous for them, and for society. As far as I’m concerned, I am much more inspired in greenhouses and with farming, in good discussions, and good books, then in the Norwegian Lutheran Church where the great actors profane the word of God and the sacraments without even knowing what they are really doing.
One of my good friends, and one of my teachers, discontinued his theological studies and became a gardener because he understood the same thing. God grant that there might be many who would follow his example, so there could be clean air again in the oppressive “Churches”. This would make it possible for the world again to taste the saltiness in God’s word after all the religious syrup and fruit soups that have been served in “the Norwegian Lutheran Churches”.