Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality
Richard Rohr, SPCK (2016)
Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest who founded the Centre for Action and Contemplation and says that the most important word in that title is ‘and!’
Things Hidden takes the reader chronologically through the biblical narrative to demonstrate how the stories, themes and overarching message can bring us into an experiential knowledge of God. This book is for anyone who wants their interaction with Scripture to not only improve their knowledge about God and humanity, but to change them and bring them into a relationship with God which Rohr calls ‘mutual indwelling’.
I found that Rohr’s presentation of Scripture often sheds a new light, or gives a different perspective that shows how passages reveal God’s message and invitation to us. He wants to teach not only what there is to see in the Bible, but a new way of seeing that teaches how to see everything.
Some may feel uncomfortable with Rohr’s view of the Bible as a ‘text in travail’, or progressive revelation, and his presentation of the mystery of the cross. He clearly has a very high view of Scripture and seeks to be faithful to the text though a stated intention is to bring the outer authority of Scripture into balance with the inner authority of experience. I found his emphasis on fostering a right relationship rather than presenting an academic commentary or doctrinal analysis to be life-giving, and challenging.
Things Hidden is a book that I will keep revisiting as it reframes human experience and history in light of the biblical message and keeps inviting the reader to question assumptions (about leadership, power, religion, evil, personal growth...) and move into a different experience of ‘knowing’ that is through prayer and contemplation, rather than just thinking or argument.
‘Information is not necessarily transformation’. Rohr encourages us to experience Scripture in a way that is transformational.
Reviewed by Jemimah McAlpine