“In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Through him all things were made, and apart from him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and that life brought light to humanity. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it!”
Yes, it’s time to talk metaphysics!
No, I don’t want to talk metaphysics! I hate metaphysics! I’m too tired to talk metaphysics, and I have no idea what metaphysics is!
Well … metaphysics is the study of the realities that underlie physics – the study of the nature of the cosmos, of the origins of the world and of God.
More specifically, metaphysics is this:
‘In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (John 1:1)
And if there’s any time of year when it is appropriate to talk metaphysics it is today when we remember a very particular event that for the last 2000 years of human history has been proclaimed as one of deep metaphysical significance – the birth of Jesus, the light that shines in the darkness, the Word become flesh!
I am conscious of the fact that we don’t talk metaphysics very often. Partly that’s because it’s not considered to be a polite topic for regular conversation and partly it’s because a lot of people claim to not believe in metaphysical realities any more but, in truth, I don’t think I have ever met anyone yet who doesn’t believe in something beyond the plainly physical.
Some people call it a ‘force’. Some call it ‘values’. At the very least, when I ask my allegedlyatheistic friends whether they believe in the reality of right and wrong, they always seem to recognise something that is bigger than themselves – a certain set of truths or something like that that are not of human making and that defy any simple explanation.
Call it the ‘force’, call it the ‘Tao’, call it the ‘moral fabric of the universe’ or call it what you wish – we all believe in something. John calls it ‘the Word’ – our translation of the ancient Greek word ‘logos’ – and it’s worth recognizing that John deliberately chose a word that had broad cultural relevance in his day as a reference to that fundamental metaphysical reality that we all believe in.
It was a term that was not tied to any particular religious tradition. It was a term with strong currency in the philosophical traditions of Socrates and Plato. The Word (the ‘logos’) was simply that all-embracing term that John used to designate that mystical reality that is at the heart of everything, in which all of life and light finds its origin. And John’s testimony is that in Jesus the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth!
We don’t like to talk metaphysics much and, in truth, I don’t like to talk metaphysics much either. Even here in church I don’t talk metaphysics a great deal because metaphysics istheory and it’s all about the intellect, and I’d sooner talk about life and love and human experience than about any esoteric theory. After all, who ever had their life changed by a theory?
I used to spend a lot of time arguing with people at a theoretical level – arguments aboutprejudice in particular – but I’ve come to realise as I’ve got older that the best of arguments rarely accomplishes much.
Islamophobia was a particular hot-point for me. I would spend any number of hours each week online, arguing with people who claim that the majority of Muslims are wearing suicide vests under their regular attire and simply waiting for the right moment to make their contribution to the destruction of civilization as we know it.

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