Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What’s the anagogical sense of the Bible?

Quick Answer:
The anagogical sense of the Bible is very similar to the moral sense except instead of applying the text to here and now we apply it to the end of time.  The focus is on the goal of our relationship with Jesus; spending eternity in relationship with him.  If the literal sense of the temple is a physical building where sacrifice was offered, the allegorical sense of the temple is that the building is an allegory to show us how the new temple of Jesus’ body is also a device of sacrifice, and the moral sense of the temple is that we’re all called to offer our bodies as sacrificial offerings here and now then the anagogical sense of the temple tells us that heaven is the true temple (Rev 21:22) where we will live eternally to offer sacrifices of praise (Heb 13:15).

Long Answer:
Recently, my wife and I went to a conference in St. Louis, MO.  We didn’t know the city at all and after getting to the hotel were trying to find a place to eat.  Armed with a little map from the front desk, we set out in the direction we thought was most promising and found a couple of fast food restaurants that didn’t look very appealing.  When we wandered by the Angry Beaver bar we decided it was time to look at that map again.  We realized that more dinning options were available on the other side of the hotel; had we gone the other way we would’ve found plenty of good places to eat.  After backtracking, we finally got where we wanted to be.

The anagogical sense of Scripture is useful to avoid the same issue we had in St. Louis.  It’s easy to see the point of Christianity as going to church, being a good person, avoiding sin, and so on.  Many folks spend a lot of effort trying to be “good” because that’s what they believe the goal of Christianity is.  My experience trying to do this shows a lot of wandering, backtracking, and dead ends in the spiritual life when the destination is goodness for goodness’ sake.

The Bible tells us through the anagogical sense that the point of Christianity is to live forever in the presence of, to contemplate, and to adore the Blessed Trinity.  This requires complete conformance of our will to God’s will and utter abandonment of all the other stuff we think makes us happy.  This is the destination Christianity is meant to lead us toward.  Knowing this gives direction to all the choices we make day-by-day.  Are my prayers empty and rote or do they really help me build intimacy with Jesus?  Does this choice deny my will in favor of God’s will for me or am I clinging to the earthly things I think will make me happy?  Knowing where we want to end up is extremely important in getting there successfully.

1 comment:

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