I just finished John Van Sloten’s book, The Day Metallica Came to Church: Searching for the Everywhere God in Everything. I wasn’t sure if it would be a gimmicky book or not, but it turned out to be well worth it. His concept of “co-illumination” was worth the book itself and has found a nice home in my vocabulary. This term has fascinated me as I’ve processed it and I love the way it allows your mind to expect God to come alive and jump from the Bible to the present day.
In fact, the book served as a nice part two to Brett McCracken’s book, Hipster Christianity, that I read and reviewed a few months ago. It seems that these ideas are either an emerging trend in the church, or it is something that God is trying to teach me right now.
Here are some of my favorite ideas from it:
“The first implication is what I call co-illumination. By co-illumination I mean that the truth contained in the Bible brings light and understanding to the truth contained in broader creation and culture, and the converse: that the truth revealed in creation and culture can illumine the truth revealed in the Bible.”
“Something more significant happens in moments of co-illuminationâ€”something that for me is almost mystical. Itâ€™s as though God suddenly moves into real time. Instead of just being a thought, or an abstract idea, or a historical verity, God becomes personally and really present. Somehow, through the connection of ancient biblical God-truths to present day God-truths, a door opens and I realize that Someone is there; an eternal, omnipresent, and timeless Someone. And itâ€™s as if that Someone is saying, ‘Iâ€™m the God of both these truths… of all these truths… all at the same time!'”
“Itâ€™s about the co-illumination of the ordinary and the ineffable. Christâ€™s weavings of word and world left an unforgettable impression on his followersâ€™ lives. Not only did they come to see Godâ€™s material goodness implanted in everything around them, but every time they would take a sip of wine, witness a wedding, or walk a certain road, they were reminded of Jesusâ€™ words. They tasted those words, celebrated them, and were warned by them.”
“The Scriptures are filled with all kinds of violent, ignorant, and unholy characters. We find errant prophets speaking Godâ€™s truth and crooked scoundrels entering into holy covenants. God used unbelieving nations to accomplish his will; he used Egyptian pharaohs, Assyrian and Roman kings, and even ladies of the night (Jesus had a prostitute in his family tree). Obviously God is willing to work both sides of the street with a less than stellar cast. God has the ability to say what he wants to say, to get done what he wants to get done, regardless of whetheror not we have our act together.”
“If all truth is Godâ€™s truth, and all beauty is Godâ€™s beauty, then certainly all great guitar riffs are Godâ€™s great guitar riffs, and all great scientific truths are Godâ€™s truths. All truth in all of creation, including humanly created culture, is Godâ€™s truth.”
“Once a seminary professor came to me after Iâ€™d given a talk on our churchâ€™s vision. He said, ‘I think I see what you are doing. Iâ€™ve spent my entire life connecting the Jesus of the New Testament to the Jesus of the Old Testament. You are connecting the Jesus of the New Testament to the resurrected Jesus today.'”
“‘God does not sign his sunsets…’ writes Frederick Buechner, ‘nor does he arrange the stars to spell out messages of comfort.’ He doesnâ€™t have to. Creation speaks its own languageâ€”many different languages, in fact. We just need to translate them.”