John 1:1-4, 14:"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through
him all things were made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. [. . .] The
Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the
One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
|The original term translated as
"Word" in this passage is the Greek word logos. When John (under the Holy
Spirit's inspiration) applied this concept to Christ, he was making a radical claim. Logos
in Greek philosophy is an impersonal rational order that directs and controls the
universe. Thus, John can claim that through the Word "all things were made." But
he can also state that "The Word became flesh." That impersonal force, he tells
us, is actually a personal Being. Jesus came to show us what God is like.
The concept of a logos suggests that reality
is inherently linguistic in structure, that we need words to relate to, understand, and
exist with the world. It equally implies that an order and harmony exists in creation that
is uncoverable, and for this too, we need words.
Yet Christians also believe that humans are
partially out of phase with our world. Sin has clouded our ability to name correctly what
is there. We often use words in a fragmented, halting, cursory way. We misunderstand,
misname, and miss the point. Sometimes, our names are even out-flat lies.
No wonder that the Supreme Word needed to
become one of us. We needed true language to come dwell among us with a human accent.