Poetry Can Deepen Our Understanding of Scripture
George Herbert's “Colossians 3:3”
It is a sorrow of mine to consider that most people who speak English and who have graduated from our colleges and universities know very little of their language’s poetic heritage; a greater sorrow to consider that Christians themselves know little about it. We have had many centuries of poetic meditation upon Scripture, in our own language, but we preach and write as if it had never happened.
Let me illustrate what we might gain if we submitted to be taught by our literary forefathers. The verse I have in mind is powerful and mysterious. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,” says St. Paul. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3). We should not take the easy way out and say that Paul is merely engaging in a metaphor here, as that we have “died to ourselves,” learning to be less selfish, to volunteer at the local soup kitchen, and to hug small children. H…
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