Monday, October 13, 2008

The Logos Spermata

'For all writers were able to see the truth darkly, on account of the implanted seed of the Logos which was grafted into them.'
-Justin Martyr

In the second century of Christianity the prominant apologist Justin Martyr (followed more eloquently by Clement of Alexandria) developed the idea that the Word of God had been spattered across the globe long before its taking on flesh; long before Jesus Christ was revealed. This was a useful missional tactic; quite in the line of Paul in Athens who built upon a pre-existent theology in Hellenistic culture. This the idea that Jesus was globally anticipated; was unkown but known as such and thus worshipped.

Today the seed seems to remain just as it did then, if we are to take Paul and Justin seriously. Though Christ has been revealed to the earth, the two-tiered Word of God always projects towards a point and returns with a harvest (Isaiah 55:11). We are the elected bearers of this Word; we the church.

But what of this spermata? In our eagerness to proclaim to the world the Revelation of Christ we neglect to attend patiently to the world around us. Where are the seeds? What is being said already?

One example struck me as I watched the latest Mummy flick. The film was awful; I despise popular culture and would prefer the whole of it go to Hell where it ought to be. Our minds have suckled on stale milk long enough...

One thing dawned on me though: the resurrection of the dead. Everywhere and from beginning to end figures in the film were coming back to life after being long dead. This theme is actually common in most movies (more recently 10,000 B.C where the young lady is killed, but shortly thereafter receives the spirit of her guardian and returns to life). Could it be that in a world long sold out to a biological death followed by nothingness, the very arts that sustain our shallow worldview tinker with the idea of resurrection? God always gets the last Word.

To remain true to the gospel though, I propose that these evident revelatory themes are not salvific. I propose in the line of Paul, of Luther and of Barth that the Logos Spermata serves only to reveal the despair of man in knowing who God is.


Mark said...

Kind of an ironic last line "...the Logos Spermata serves only to reveal the despair of man in knowing who God is". I would modify that to "despair of secular man in searching for meaning outside Christ". For there can be no despair in the search to know God for a Christian. If it is his awesome power and inimitable benevolence witnessed through his grace that renders the searching Christian awestruck, it is all the more beautiful that such a being is planted firmly on your side, guiding you down the only path you could ever possibly take.

Or if you just meant despair without the connotations, as in the futility of mans search to understand God without Christ, then this is true. The method through which the secular world maintains a fierce dichotomy between reason and faith, yet absolves mysticism (horoscopes, the concept of fate, etc) as an inherent part of life is quite mind boggling.

Emerson Fast said...

Hey Mark,

I think we mostly agree on all counts. The concept derived here of a 'Logos Spermata' is not the Logos in itself but fledgling seeds spread across the world. Why go after the seeds that our culture holds on to when we have the tree shock full of fruit in the gospel?