Friday, May 30, 2008

"unsurpassable" from John Frye

We now reach the final chapter of John Frye's new book: Out of Print: A Novel. Much has happened in this short story after the disappearance of God's word in every visible form anywhere. A new interest has taken hold all over the world, first among Christians as well as Jews, to recover the missing books by finding those who had committed Scripture to memory. And Christians along with people all over the world actually hearing the word of God spoken out loud in their own language. All kinds of people who previously had no knowledge of God's word because of this phenomenon are able to hear it for themselves and are drawn to Jesus who is really the subject of the Story in a real sense.

In this chapter God's word begins to reappear until it is finally all restored. You begin to see the passages coming back and the people of the story, mostly Christians and a Jewish rabbi, interacting with the meaning of it all. First the Jeremiah 31 passage on the promised new covenant appears. Then the Ezekiel 36 passage that speaks of the same thing. Next John 1:14 appears followed by John 5:39-40, and 2 Corinthians 3:2-3. As the Christian and Jewish leaders are trying to make sense of it all and are coming to some points of conviction on it, then 2 Corinthians 5:15-19 appears followed by John 17:22-23. Afterwards whole books of the Bible come back until at last it is all restored.

A major conclusion that stands out to me from the story and from the Christian leaders (from the Jewish leaders as well, shown by the Jewish rabbi and by the interest in Jesus some Jews were having) in the story is that the word is to become flesh. That is, it's to penetrate into our lives and change us from the inside out. This is done in Jesus, who is the Word made flesh. And all of us in him partake of this reality of the new covenant.

Another major thought from it is that the word heard gives the hearers the sense of wanting to respond to it. The Hebrew words for "listen" and "obey" are synonymous. In our culture of reading silently, the idea is that we're in charge. But when it's read out loud to us we are being acted on, and it's up to us to respond.

To get the impact on people and how this plays out you'll need to read the book for yourself. It is quite a wonderful story to the point that you almost have a hard time thinking it didn't happen! And I love the epilogue and how the story ends. Wonderful picture of God's grace (of course you'll have to have read the story before to get it) and you see the pastor's heart John has in his telling of it.

What about us? When we pick up the Bible day after day what difference does it make in our lives and why? Are we having a relationship with it or with the God of the Bible? Are we entering into the Story of God's word in Jesus for ourselves? Or is it prmarily a book just telling us what to do and not do? And what significance does the word becoming flesh in Jesus have for our own lives? What place does the word have in us and how?

These questions and many more can be asked from the reading of this book. What hits you in your reading of the book or of these posts about the book? What would you like to share here?

1. unthinkable
2. unexplainable
3. unstoppable


HALFMOM said...

It sounds like an interesting book that I would enjoy. Your question "are we entering in to the story...ourselves" is a pertinent one that I don't really have an answer to. Somedays it does feel like a story in a book, not like part of my life and yet, I know that it has already changed me deeply from within.

John Frye said...

You have provided an excellent review of *Out of Print: A Novel.* Thank you so much. I also like the way you added pertinent questions about what the story means to you and to other followers of Jesus. I appreciate your diligent presentation of the book. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

in the first of the book i thought to myself that the story did not seem very believeable. as i got into it though, it did not matter if it was believeable because i got into the questions and thoughts of the characters. and in the end as i was finishing the book today. it has left me with thoughts that have already been in my heart and mind. things that i woudld like to pray and think about more in relationship to God and with others in living. i think God is calling me, as i walk down the path with His Holy Spirit, to give my whole self and life over to Him in trust and faith. the path is not always smooth, but, every step brings me closer to Him and living eternity with Him. as i get closer, i must trust in him more fully and living in Him more fully. it is hard to realize, that to connect and relate with the world the way God wants me to, i must fully put my eyes and heart and trust on God. i must only see the world through the eyes of God. an interesting thing for a human to do. crazy in the eyes of many other humans. even believers might think this crazy. my heart is taking me there and even though my mind fights it. one step at a time down the path.

i have enjoyed the book and i am glad that "they" wrote it...john and God and all the others that helped.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Halfmom Susan,
You would enjoy it, for sure!

Amen to what you say. Yes, as much as I want more change, I can say the change has been profound in my life, as well. The beauty of Jesus himself in us!

This is a living Story and ongoing, in Jesus. We have our part in it, whatever that part is, and it's not easy since in this part of the story we're grappling with "the world", "the flesh" and "the devil." Yet in Jesus we have the Spirit and a calling from God to fulfill in a multitude of ways and unique to each of us.

Of course I know you know this, you know as much or more than I do on it. But I just give my thought on it here.

Story to me is a powerful analogy and way of seeing Scripture, and really, I think, more than an analogy, but is reality.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, John! It was a joy to blog through it and hopefully it will spur some more posts soon.

The way you wrote it and the questions you posed there and in other places I've read from you made it easy to share with others, and I just hope the truth of God in Jesus there gets through better to me and to each who read it. And that many will read it!

Thanks, brother!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, it's utterly amazing that we Christians who have the Spirit of God are said to have the very mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2).

We end up being little christs in this world to share the truth and love of God in Jesus. So very wonderful and so very true and real for us. Though like you say, the path sometimes is one of death working in us, so that the life of Jesus might be made known to others.

But that's where this word made flesh in Jesus in our lives will take us, and what it means to us and for our lives. We have to keep being in the word and the word in us lived out in Jesus, for others.

preacherman said...

Wonderful post.
I cant wait to read it for myself.
John is so wise as I have seen on his blog.
I know this will be a page turner.
Kinney Mabry

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, Kinney. It is!

And I liked it even more as I went through it again and blogged on it.

Sign of an especially good book.

Anonymous said...

this book has ongoing effects. i was just thinking of how many parts of the bible have vanished in my life because i have never read them. i tend to go to favorite parts and have not read all of the book. i am sure i am not alone in this. it was not that long ago that i found it hard to find many books and had to look them up. at least many books are more familiar to me. i have to say though that the understanding of the giving and receiving of the Love of God in a real and living way is needed awareness along with the words that are written. the words breath and live through the Holy Spirit...a life and use beyond our knowledge.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!


it is amazing to me how the Lord can work in our faith in Him.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, Nancy. Above all our reading of Scripture and working through it needs to be relational in its emphasis. It's about God's relationship to the world and to us, and from that, our relationship to God and to the world, to ourselves. And how we fit in God's ongoing Story.

Glad to hear how this book has stimulated you.