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The Ascent of the Son of Man

1. The Vineyard 2. Two Sons 3. Christ and Adam 5. The Apprenticeship of the Son 5. The Church as the Gentiles given to Israel 6. Christ the True Witness

1. The Vineyard
Every book of the bible offers us an account of Gods dealings with his people. Many books, particularly the psalms and the prophets offer us concise summaries of the action of Israel and her God. We could call these parables. Since Jesus taught through parables, the Gospels are full of them. Each of them attempts to sum up the whole Scripture by illustrating some aspect of the history. We will look at some of these.
A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. (Mark 12.1-3)

In the parable of the vineyard, God gave care of his the world to those he can identified and equipped for this task. He gave it to Israel. Israel is made for the service of God for the world. God serves all the peoples of the world, and Israel is the explicit. Israel is the service of God made. public explicit, proclaimed, articulated and explained and made rational for us. Israel is given the wherewithal to do this. Israel has the instruction of God, so she can do this. She may exercise the generosity and compassion of God to all people. This account is of the world as vineyard and Israel as its keepers is set out first by Isaiah. God invites us to give our view. He had set out his vineyard as the place in which his people could deal with each other with the generosity that they received from him. He gave them a share in this work of exercising all the care of the shepherd for his sheep, setting the older over the younger, giving those with more the task of providing for those with less. She has the authority to provide and lead and teach. Because Israel has given the law, which is the instruction of God, she has the insight to manage and judge the peoples of the world. Israel is the people of God and she is the people for the Gentiles. When Gentiles receive her as the people of God, they become people of God also. The parable of the vineyard sets out the brief summary of the history of the relationship of God and Israel. We can amplify this parable with elements from others.

1. The Lord is like a farmer. He labours in his fields. He sows seed (Mark 4), broadcasting his word to the world: some seed grows, some doesn't. The Lord planted a vineyard (Isaiah 5, Mark 12, Luke 13.60, Luke 20) and cultivated it. His harvest would be a community of people in relationship with himself. He built a wall around to protect this vineyard from being grazed by animals. 2. Israel was his vineyard. But when Israel was mature enough to take on this responsibility, the vineyard would include the whole world and Israel would be . le, He gave the care of the vineyard to Israel. He gave to care of Israel to its rulers. These had responsibility for bringing up the nation up to be a holy people. He appointed under-workers, managers and harvesters. It is the responsibility of the first generation of vines cultivate the subsequent generations, and it is the responsibility of the larger vines to protect the weaker ones. 3. He expected Israel to gather in the Gentiles and the poor and unprotected. (He had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out harvesters into his harvest fields (Matthew 9.38). Why have you been standing her all day doing nothing? (Matthew 20.6) Look at the fields. They are ripe for gathering in (John 4.35). 4. He sent them teachers and encouragers, and expected regular news and evidence of the progress of the work. 5. The king comes back to see how his tenants have fared with the estate he gave them. He will hear the peoples assessment of how their masters have ruled them. The well-being of the whole people is the criterion by which the masters will be judged.

2. Two Sons
The parable of the two sons appears in the Gospel of Matthew.
There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, Son, go and work today in the vineyard. I will not, he answered, but later changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered I will, sir, but he did not go (Matthew 21.28-31).

Two sons were sent to the vineyard. One son went to work in the garden, the other did not. One son would not hear his Fathers command. He declined to work or to undergo the apprenticeship that would have made him a good son. Like the rulers of the gentiles, he would rather be waited on and provided for than go to work himself (Mark 10.42-5). The Son who did go to work did not consider the Fathers work alien to him. He considered it to be his own, and never asked about any reward other than the work itself. Of these two sons, which of them did what the master asked? Which of them will be declared the true son of that master? Which of them will turn out to be the real Son?

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. (Luke 12.37). The faithful manager will give his masters servants their food at the proper time. It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns (Luke 12.43).

The Obedience of Israel The Lord sent Israel. He had mixed success. Some generations of Israel went to work, others did not. But the story is not over yet. We could try to expand on the parable of the two sons in our own way. We could, for example, tell it like this: The Lord God said to Adam Come with me into the world I am making and I will show you how to look after it. Adam went along, and watched what his Lord was doing, and picked up all the skills of world-maintenance. But after a bit he stopped working, and just watched, but after just watching he grew tired, bored and lazy. the Lord said could you not stay awake and watch with me even for a short time. So the Lord called again. Out from the sleeping body of Adam stepped Israel. Israel said I will learn how to work with you. He went back to work in the garden. The Lord taught him how to garden, and he was content. But after a while he thought I am the favourite son of the Lord, this work is beneath me. But though Israel stopped working, others didn't, and as these others cultivated, they grew stronger. Because he hadnt worked and grown Israel he grew afraid of the other workers, who were bigger than he was, and rather than leading them, he followed what they were doing and was led by them, and being also ashamed of this did not like to admit that this is what he had been doing, even though the Lord asked, and so did not like to keep in touch with the Lord. The other workers made Israel join in their games of who is top dog. He paid their forfeits and carried their bags and burdens. As his embarrassment about this grew so did his estrangement from the Lord, and the other workers filled the gap, effectively becoming his masters. The Lord called Israel, but he came less and less willingly, till finally when the Lord called, Israel did not come at all. Out of Israel stepped a single Israelite, Jesus. Jesus had been with the Lord since the beginning. He was in Adam, and when all of Adam gave up and there was nothing of him left but Israel, he was in Israel, and now there is no one here from Israel except him. The Son went out with the Lord and harvested. And what he had sowed produced a crop, thirty, sixty, a hundred. And with the fruits of his labour he has enough to provide for the whole world.

Estate Manager
Or we could expand the parable of the two sons in this way: There was man who sent his sons off to work in on the family estate, a vast enterprise employing and supporting many hundreds of people. The task of managing these people too much for the elder sons to manage. First one son then another found the responsibility too much for him.

Finally only was left, and this one was indeed successfully looking after the estate. When the father asked if he was not tired, he replied that he did not need to rest. He took delight in his people, and regarded them not just as his work but also as his reward. The father gave this Son responsibility for the whole estate, and put all others sons under his supervision. They could do as much as they were able to, and he would do whatever they could not: under him so they would learn how to care and look after the estate. Any son who wanted more responsibility could ask for it, and who wanted less could ask for less. These sons remain sons because they take their place in the household of the Son who succeeded in caring for them all. Who will step up to become manager of the estate? Who will lead man into the role of steward of creation? When man takes up this job he will bring to creation the justice and order that it, and every creature in it, waits for?

3. Christ and Adam

In his Letter to the Romans Saint Paul sets out a contrast between two versions of man. There is man, whom the bible refers to as Adam, and there is Christ. They represent two editions of man. One of them has a short-term existence, while the existence of the other is ongoing. When Adam started out, he lived from the resources of God and was happy to be coworker with his Lord. But he did not persevere in the work God did. He looked for something less demanding. He tried to exercise his own life in independence, but the moment he did so, he accepted all sorts of offers from other sources. After inviting them in as guests, he was quickly taken over by these other forces. He had no existence of his own; his life was now theirs. He was a bonded labourer but since they charged extortionate rates of interest, and quickly took possession of everything that had been his, they took his life as continued payment, so Adam could not even look forward to working off his debt to these masters. These powers did not intend to let him go. Like a bankrupt firm taken over by creditors who keep it trading as a front from their own criminality, Adams life was in the control of all sorts of gods.. Finally God, seeing Adams misery, declared this business bankrupt. He has taken away Adams name and stopped the gods from making use of him. Saint Paul describes the situation in terms of two opposite processes. Sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned.. the many died through the one man's trespass by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners. (Romans 5.12-19) Man was unravelling. Saint Paul calls Adams life death, while Christs life is simply life. Mans life has a serial form: it produces us in order to reproduce itself and survive for a little whole before exhausting us and killing us off. It splits us up and when we can no longer hang on to each other, we drop off individually and are lost. We die. Death is what we call it when this process of separation has become terminal, irreversible. It continues in this mode of our division and destruction. In the one process it splits the body, to create many bodies and continues splitting them until they are entirely fragmented and atomised. Adam represents this process of

fragmentation. But this disintegration and implosion is now halted and sent into reverse. The Lesser Replaced by a Greater Adam It was no longer Adam who was the subject of this history. Now it was sin. Sin took Adams life and replicated it. It made each generation its vehicle. Sin was doing the driving; man was its vehicle. Adam failed to marshal any resistance to sin, failed to find the resolve to overpower it. He found no self-control. The undisciplined, untutored will came the truth of man; man was the will that showed no willpower, that wanted everything and could decide on nothing. The autonomous will produced a shambles. Far from exercising his will, independently and autonomously, Adam failed to exercise any will at all. Through chasing every desire he lost the ability to exercise his will. He turned out to be a function of the lordless powers that made use of him. We could sum them up as sin. Sin was the real protagonist of this history. Death was unravelling man. But the gift of God halted this unravelling. But the movement of connection will not run out of creative connective power and invention. Sin rolled out in one direction, to the dissolution of man, but the gift of God rolled back the other way to the re-integration of man. But the gift is not equivalent to the trespass: the gift was very much more powerful than the trespass. Those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. (Romans 5.17) Adam #1 turns out to have been not truly the first Adam. Adam #2 turns out to have been the first. Christ turns out to be the true Adam. Now in Christ we may no longer reproduce Adams life. We are not Adams now. We have been removed from that process of unravelling. The real Adam is here, and in him we can live securely because we no longer live at our own expense. In the hands of the first Adam divisions multiply and proliferate and creation unravels. In his care creation can only come apart. Christ appears rolls up, reconciles and re-unites what had come undone. Christ made good the failures of his predecessor. The Son who appeared to be younger, who appears later in time, turns out to be the heir. Christ is the true Adam, who is always glad to do God's work, be Gods coworker and remain labouring in the vineyard.

4. The Apprenticeship of the Son

The Ascent of Jesus is the first instalment of the ascent of Man to God While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven (Luke 24. 51) As they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight (Acts 1.9)

The Ascent of the Son takes the form of an apprenticeship. Man is not yet what it could be. Man does not start as an adult. He needs to be trained up and so undergo an apprenticeship. He is out of control and liable to harm himself because he has no direction or guidance. There must be discipline. Each of us needs to find the good father and master who will gives us this training, and we need to accept the discipline that comes with it, so that we may acquire all his skills and so become fathers and masters. Jesus is the Son who takes on this apprenticeship. He endures the discipline that comes with it. He takes on the disciple of good masters, who wish the best for him, and also of bad ones, who do not intend his good. His perseverance through it, without protest, demonstrated that he was a true son of his Father. He regarded the work he was given not as someone elses work, but as his own. He was no hired hand. The Son endured the status of a servant, under the word of his master. This servant was ready to learn. The Son endured discipline. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered (Hebrews 5.8) He was a good student, eager for correction, keen to learn whatever he can from whatever master, including those who do not intend to do him good. The Son seeks instruction. He makes himself apprentice to every master, demanding from each that the master give him the teaching and leading that the Son identifies as required for all the people in that masters command. The Son paid proper respect to intermediary authorities: he was a good son, who accepted discipline (Hebrews 12.9-10), acted and according to the Scriptures, obedient to the prophets and patriarchs. He learned from them how to suffer and resist the resistance of the Gentiles and the aggressors. As long as the heir was a child, though the whole estate was his, he was no different from a slave. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time decided by his father. (Galatians 4.1) He was under the protective tutelage of the basic rules and principles of the world He indentured to many masters. As a result of submitting to their discipline he grew up and grew in wisdom. He was brought up below stairs, but he did not act as just another one of the servant boys. He grew out of this place below stairs and took his place at the head of the household.

The True Son endured Discipline

The discipline the Son endured was the struggle he underwent at our hands. He endured such opposition from sinful men (Hebrews 12.3). We were the course he underwent and the test that he withstood. We were his apprenticeship. My son do not make light of the Lords discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves and punishes everyone he accepts as a son (Proverbs 3.11-12). He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15.2). 6

First, it is necessary that an apprenticeship be served and that it be completed and that this be publicly affirmed. Obedience has to be learned, tested and demonstrated. If you are not disciplined, and everyone undergoes discipline, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. (Hebrews 12.8) The discipline was hard. The life and passion of Christ involved real pain and fear. During the days of Jesus life on earth he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death (Hebrews 5.7). He is the true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false (John 1.47).

Christ goes through the whole apprenticeship and he succeeds at it. He undergoes the entire course that mankind inflicted on him. He withstood the entire test.
The Son refused to worship or confess any other authority. He could not be made to enter any other plea or utter any other name. He withheld what every other man had conceded. His word to all the disobedient authorities of the world was No. The Son is the No of the Father spoken against every disobedient creature. One member of Israel is with God. One human of us has gone to God. God has found this human being good. From all of us, he has chosen this one. This one is going to be the form for all of us. He will be a our provider, representative and champion. All men have been trying to make this ascent and now this one human being who paradoxically was not trying to ascend has ascended and made it into the presence of God. He has been allowed in. He has been found, and promoted over all of us. He is exalted to the right hand of God so that in Christ man lives in the immediate presence of God (psalm 110). Now all mankind may concede that this is the true form for human beings. God has selected this one for us, and we must receive him as such, so what God has found good we may concur really is good for us. God has chosen one of us. By this choice God has not given up on us, and we have not been rejected.

5. The Church as the Gentiles given to Israel

The Church is the demonstration of God's faithfulness to Israel. The Church is joined to the people of Israel and lives in continuity with Israel. God has not founded his community on the Gentiles, but opened the existing community, of Israel, to let the Gentiles in. The gentile churches are not a new community but the arrival of the missing second half that completes the existing community of Israel. All earlier members of this community of God planted us, so we are their harvest. Others have done the hard work; we are the result of their labour. Righteous Israel has sowed and the Gentiles are the reaping. Those who have died before us will go before us in the procession and will

take a higher place, because they are of greater honour. They worked but have not yet seen their reward. They have died, but in the assault of all the disordered gentile forces. We came later, have not borne the heat of the day (Matthew 20.12), and will take a lower place. Our arrival completes Israel and makes Israel comprehend the world in a single community. The people of Christ are the people of Israel. Christs witnesses are Moses, Elijah and David long before these are joined by Peter John and the other apostles. Moses, Elijah, David suffered the long labour and battle all through the heat of the day. Our apostles were called at the last hour to join this labour. We are the ones who come late. But we will receive the same inheritance, who are paid the same. The apostles, Peter, Andrew, Matthew, are leaders of the tribes of Israel. Every tribe brings with it its gentile hangerson. When one falls, let another take his place, and fill the gap, so no gap appears which would allow the gentiles to pass through. The People of Israel is the witness of God to the nations. The Son of Man is the glory of Israel, and Israel is the glory of the Son. Israel made him and handed him on to us. The Son is raised by the whole company of heaven. He is accompanied by the whole company of patriarchs, prophets and people of righteous Israel.

6. Christ the true Witness

Christ is the witness of God to man and of man to God. Christ carries out the truthbearing office of the prophet. The gospel is a history, framed by the history of other empires, and so the New Testament is framed by the empire of Rome, and Jesus suffers under Pontius Pilate. Each gospel is a witness statement, based on the experience of those who compose it. Luke is concerned to give us a good report as he can, drawn together from the statements of the many witnesses of the event of the incarnation. It is eye-witness history. Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed. In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah (Luke 1.1-5) Luke places the events of the incarnation in the history of the contemporary worldpower of Rome and the puppet rulers of the provinces of its empire. In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 8

during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. (Luke 3.1-2) Handed Over and Handed On God has been given to man. Jesus Christ has been handed over to us and now he is in our hands. The Son of Man is handed over to the Gentiles (Luke 18.32). What is handed over is Jesus Christ, the news about him and the form of life that secures our reception of news and our establishment in relationship with him. The apostle reports that what he received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night that he was handed over, took bread and when he had given thanks he handed it on to them (1 Corinthians 11.23). This man was handed over to you by Gods set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2.22-3). By him we were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers (1 Peter 1.18). God has given the whole package of Christ to the Church, and in the church, the package is given to man. The one package is delivered to us as many packages. These are made up of the knowledge of Christ and knowledge that makes this body, his body. The packages we are given comprise food (material goods for bodies), instruction and insight, so we might discover the mind of Christ, and membership in the body of Christ. We are instructed to guard the good deposit entrusted to you (2 Timothy 1.14). We are told that it is a trustworthy message which we must hold firmly too as it has been taught (Titus 1.9). Law as Mandate and Authority Jesus is surprised that Israelites do not know how to exercise the authority given to Israel. Every Israelite is a witness, shepherd and priest of the world, an ambassador of the God of gods. In the Old Testament the Lord is off-stage. We have only the record of the distress and recriminations caused by his promised coming, his threatened coming, and caused by his absence. But now Yahweh as squeezed himself into the compass of a single human being, a member of Israel. As this Israelite we see him impact directly on all those around, on the helpless, on the aggressive opponents of the God of Israel, and their servants, the servants of other masters. The New Testament is the Old Testament made live, as given to man the Lord is directly present to these witnesses. The Law (Torah) is a description of Christ and an extended version of the name of Christ. It is inseparable from his identity. To observe the law or keep the law means be brought up to the full mature stature of the creature who is with God. It is the image of Israel and Jesus, one Israelite. It is a plan and syllabus to educate that Israelite. It is all the instruction required to bring many different learners with different needs all up to proficiency. It is all gifts, insight and supplies that enable this instruction and learning and a warning of the consequences of not finishing this instruction and becoming proficient at this life. It is a description of the unhappy man who refuses this life and proficiency and of the costs of this refusal and thus a bill 9

we cannot pay. We cannot pay because the currency is relationship with God, for which there is no substitute. We cannot compensate for having refused God, and achieve the programme of formation to maturity with God by making it up out of our own resources. We cannot carry this cost for we do not have the resources to provide a God-substitute. Indeed we do surround ourselves with God-substitutes, are bound to go on trying to do this to our own exhaustion. The law under this definition (our self-imposed imperative to resist God) results in our death. The Deposit of Faith The deposit of faith is the rule of faith. This rule is a discipline and regime given to us by God. This rule is the form of all the explicit teaching. All other masters want to draw us to them, and so away from one another and from Christ. Has the Church passed on the insight by which people might hear learn and grow, or allowed them to remain trapped in the impoverished image of man given by other teachers, because they themselves have been given no better image of human being.

7. Paideia and Gnosis

Clement of Alexandria (c.160-215) taught that the gospel is the true wisdom (and
gnosis) of God. He wrote a number of books, of which we have The Instructor (Pedagogus), Miscellany (Stromateis), Exhortation to the Greeks (Protepticus) and Can the rich be saved? Clement teaches that Christians are philosophers, and Christianity is the true philosophy. Like other philosophers, Christians abandon all social status to pursue that wisdom. But unlike other philosophers, they know where all wisdom is to be found. Clement believes that Greek wisdom may function as an elementary school course for Christianity, or fertilize the ground for real wisdom. What wisdom Plato found was derived from Moses, who the ancient world admires as the oldest philosopher.

Gnosticism Other Teachers, Other Teachings

The teachings that the Church encountered were referred as Gnosticism. Gnostics were experts in the skills of communication and persuasion, therapies and selffulfilment. The Church calls these teachers heretics only when it thinks that the wisdom they are propounding threatens Christian teaching. It identifies as threatening for example the setting out of alien cosmologies that teach that the power of Fate constrains the freedom God intends for humanity. Gnosticism is used taken to refer to a second century Mediterranean phenomenon. But gnosticism in the sense of rival pagan cosmologies is wider and has a longer genealogy. Gnosticism is the low-brow rationalisations of common sense. The teachers, gnostics encountered by the early church were more syncretistic than systematic: they represented the variety of the real daily belief. The second century Gnosticism encountered by the fathers of the Church are offering hybrid versions of traditional Greek mythology. Such teachers set the gods of the nations in order showing which nations were older and had priority.


The motive of Gnostic systems is to explain the rise of new nations and political forces. So they stick the gods of the emergent nations in at some point in their existing hierarchy of gods in order to account for changing geopolitical realities, such as the rise to prominence of new nations. Gnostics are trying to account for the emergence onto the world stage of the Jews and then of the Christians. They synthesise the new divinities into the existing hierarchy The God of Israel was ordered into a cosmology beneath other nations and gods. In the geo-political order lesser nations follow great ones, and that there is a (circular) procession of nations around the skies and which refer to a corresponding order in the heavens, that place Yahweh as a junior God. Syncretism is the consumerism of the Roman empire at its full extent, when it no longer has enemies, and so no longer understands foreign cults as the representatives of foreign military threats. Gnosticism is a consolation and interiority movement, and an attempt to come to terms with the power of the Roman empire. In the second century (AD). It found Christianity very attractive and mined the gospels for material to add into its existing systems - Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Spirituality as Interiority and Escapism Gnosticism was a way of making the Church a less conspicuous opponent of all the powers-that-be and so a way of reducing the scandal of the cross. The apostle Paul warns the Galatians that those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ (Galatians 6.12). Valentinus, Basilides and Praxeas attempted to integrate Christian teaching into a pagan cosmological framework. Greek teaching was seen as more sophisticated than wisdom of the non-elite Christians. This Greek wisdom, taught hierarchies and how to ascend within them, so represented a constant temptation for the Church. Those tempted by these teachings regarded Christian discipline as a make-do interim teaching for the lower orders (material people, physikoi). The Church had to deny that there was any other secret wisdom available only to the elite who practice purifications to leave behind material life, rise through intellect, to become first people of the pure mind (psychikoi), then into the spiritual realms above, to become spiritual people (pneumatikoi). If they do this they will leave the Church behind and abandon the world. The spiritual gnostic knew the passwords that would permit him to pass the gatekeepers and up through each eon, until he became pure soul, and his soul was reunited with (dissolved in) the world-soul. Some Gnostics practiced adopted severe practices of self-control. Some other took the opposite route, towards extreme regarding sexual freedom, deciding that what we do with our bodies does not matter because we are going to jettison them anyway. They believed bodies to be dirty and regarded them with suspicion and distaste, and so taught forms of self-control. Hierarchy, Eons and Ages In pagan belief man is a small player in a cosmos of unruly forces, which are both natural and moral or political. The ancient world regarded such forces as hanging over our heads, and there are called the eons. They are particularly sinister when 11

they are unknown and ambiguous. The Churched termed the more sinister powers demons. Those forces which hold out against the rule of God and threaten man are termed the principalities and powers. In the modern cosmology we would say either that these eons are behind us or that they are under our feet, and the basis on which we stand. They represent rulers, who are our leaders, teachers and disciplinarians, and they also represent lessons which we have to learn. Each regime and power (eon) is a lesson and an instructor, and a disciplinarian, responsible for controlling us. The rulers are past rulers, and the further back in the past the higher they are, and the higher they are the deeper their roots in the past, and the closer to the origin of all things and so also the more truthful they are. When this life, life in this present world (eon), is over we will be promoted to the one above. We move upwards or downwards, advance or be relegated. Some of us in this world intellectuals, no longer tugged but vulgar opinion and passion are ready for the next stage. Now we can ask whose hierarchy reaches the top. Who has access to the highest and most original God, the God of Gods? Only this God will be able to save us from the conflicting demands of all lesser gods.

The Distinctive Christian Teaching Irenaeus (c.115-c.202) was bishop of Lyons, a Greek speaking community in what is now France. His writings were collected together under the (Latin) title Adversus Haereses. In these Against the Heresies he set out an extensive rebuttal of the Gnostic systems. The chief of these was Marcion, who argued that there were two gods, the new God of love and the old Jewish biblical Creator. Irenaeus pointed out that neither of Marcion s putative gods, the old or the new, could be God, since God is one. The apostolic teaching and the pastoral context of doctrine We are the disciples of a lord who is concerned enough for us, not to leave us alone, but to tell us what to do and give us people to help us do it. Christ gives us someone to look after us, and to make sure that we make progress. This pastoral supervisor is called the bishop (from episcope overseer). He must teach his people the whole deposit of faith, the Scripture and the life of the Christian. A leader must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1.9). Christ disciples us with all his disciplinarians, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and our contemporaries. The bishop is a pastor, for that reason has to be a theologian. They have to protect their congregations by telling them about their new identity. They have to tell them who their Lord is, and what difference this makes to them. They have to show them the difference between the life of the Christian community and the life of the world under all other masters. The Son takes human life and performs it again, thoroughly and properly. He took our fallen flesh and by putting it on, healed it. By wearing it, he made it no longer


fallen. His assumption of it repairs and heals all our flesh. Whatever he had not assumed, would have remained unhealed. The Recapitulation of Humanity the Old Testament forerunners of the Son All the patriarchs and prophets represent characteristics of the Son. But Jesus is the Son in person, the full complement of all the prophets, patriarchs and company of heaven in one person. Humanity was in its childhood state, but in the single exempla of Christ it has at last been brought to maturity. The Son performs our humanity perfectly, completing what we were unable to complete for ourselves, and then supplies his performance of our humanity to us direct, by the Spirit. Jesus is the witness and testimony of God. He is the testament that is old and new, both from the origin and beginning, and that is ever-living and so always new. This ever-new testament is the work of the original testament. Jesus contains the life of the generations of Israel. Anyone who reads the Scriptures carefully will find in them an account of Christ, and a foreshadowing of the new calling. Christ is the treasure hidden the ground, hidden in this world. Christ is the treasure hidden in Scripture. He was pointed to by means of types and parables. Before its fulfillment, every prophecy is full of enigma and ambiguity. But when the time comes, and what was predicted takes place, their meaning is clear and recognized. [Book 4] The New Adam and the Renewal of Creation The ascent of man has begun. Man is growing up into his full estate. Man is now embarked on the process of formation and is changing. Though there are moment when this process seems to be regressing and mankind is actually going backwards, yet the whole project is still moving forwards. One member of humanity has progressed at the way and has reached that full status. The ascended Son is the evolution of mankind. God intended from the beginning to be with man and that man will be with him. God could have granted perfection to man right at the beginning; but as man had only recently been created, he could not possibly have received this perfection, or even if he had received it, he could not have made use of it or held on to it. The Son of God, although He was perfect, passed through the state of childhood in common with the rest of mankind. He did not do this for himself, but to achieve the childhood stage of man's existence, so that man might be able to receive HimGod could have given man adult perfection straightaway The Childhood of Man Humanity was in its childhood state. Mankind has to grow up and to go through a process of formation and education. This childhood has become prolonged and mans progress has stalled or is even going backwards. Our childhood has turned into adolescent rebellion. Since the apostasy tyrannised over us unjustly.. the Word of God, powerful in all things, and not defective with regard to his own justice, did righteously 13

turn against that apostasy, and redeem it from his own property, not by violent means as the apostasy had obtained dominion over us at the beginning, when it insatiably snatched away what was not its own, but by means of persuasion, as became a God of counsel (5.1.1). Violence here is injustice, but God won by using peaceful persuasion, the justice of reason. Christ recapitulates Adam God took man as he found him and using the elements of which we were made, and made them perfect So also by the obedience of one man, righteousness having been reintroduced, shall cause life to fructify in those persons who in times past were deadso did he who is the Word, recapitulating Adam in himself, rightly receive a birth, enabling him to gather up Adam (into himself) from Mary (Against the heresies 3.21.10) Christ is man, descended from Adam, through all intermediary generations. The pedigree which traces the generation of our Lord back to Adam connecting the end with the beginning, it is he who has summed up in himself all nations dispersed from Adam downwards (3.22.3) Christ the new Adam starts as a child He learned obedience. He was a child under discipline. Jesus learned and acquired his own mind from the Scriptures and teachers of Israel. The Son of God, although he was perfect, passed through the state of childhood in common with the rest of mankind. He did not do this for himself, but to achieve the childhood stage of man's existence, so that man might be able to receive him. (Book 3) This was recapitulation, a re-making from the elements from which man already existed. Just as God took dust from the earth and formed man; so he took the flesh of man, in the person of Mary, and he formed man against by giving him his own form. The existing Man was made all over again as God gave him another birth, via Mary making himself mans second source and so giving man a second origin in himself. It was incumbent that he, recapitulating all this in Himself, should be made man by God, to have an analogy with man with regard to his origins. So why did God not use dust again, but used wrought so that the formation should be made of Mary? It was that there might not be another formation called into being, nor any other which should [require to] be saved, but that the very same formation should be summed up [in Christ as had existed in Adam], the analogy having been preserved. 14

But everyone agrees that we are made a body taken from the earth, and a soul receiving spirit from God. This is what the Word of God was made, recapitulating his own handiwork in himself. He confessed himself the Son of man (the offspring of men). This is how it had to be. The Lord came to the lost sheep, made a comprehensive recapitulation of the whole human dispensation. Looking after His own handiwork he saved Adam, the man created in His image and likeness. Why was man not made perfect in the first place? Man was to be formed through time. This is what time is for. If any asks why God did not set man up as a finished work perfect from beginning. We must say that God is always the same and without origin so all things are possible to Him. But created things are inferior to Him who created them, from the very fact of their later origin. It is not possible for created things to be made uncreated, without origin. But because they are not uncreated, they are not the same as the uncreated or perfect. Because created things are recent, they are immature. They are not used to perfect discipline. A mother certainly can give her baby adult food, but she does not do so, because the baby cannot take adult food. So God could have given man adult perfection straightaway, but man could not have received this adult status because he was still a child. There was nothing, therefore, that God could not do. That man was not an uncreated being does not imply that Gods power was not limitless. It was merely for the sake of the recently created man. God displays power, wisdom, and goodness, all at the same time. His power and goodness are demonstrated by the fact that he decided to call into being and fashion things that had had no previous existence. Now man first had to be created. Then having been created, man had to grow. Having started to grow, man became stronger, and with this strength he should flourish, and flourishing, he should recover from the weakness of sin, and having got over this, he should receive some acknowledgement and so come to know his own Lord. The fullness of Christ could not be given to man all at once. It had to be slowly dispensed to man through time as he was ready for it. It could be taken to man but it could not be taken by man, for he was only slowly able to receive what Christ has to give. The apostle Paul had the power to give the Corinthians the strong meat for those upon whom the apostles laid hands received the Holy Spirit, who is the food of eternal life. But they were not yet able to receive it, because sentient faculties of their soul were still feeble, and undisciplined in the practice of life with God. In the same way, God could have granted perfection to man right at the beginning; but as man had only recently been created, he could not


possibly have received this perfection, or even if he had received it, he could not have made use of it or held on to it. (Adv Haer) The ascended Son is the truth of man. The Son took our fallen flesh, and by taking on all that is ours, he healed it. In his wearing of it, it was no longer fallen. If the Son had not assumed it, it would have remained unhealed. Having performed it perfectly, he does not leave our flesh behind on return to the Father. The Son does not let go of his divinity on coming to earth. He did not empty himself of his divinity, but his divinity is fully at work and manifest in the servant-character of Jesus. The Son performs our humanity perfectly. He takes our fallen flesh and performs it again, but this time thoroughly and properly. By taking this fallen he healed it so in his wearing of it, it was no longer fallen. God recapitulated in himself the ancient formation of man that he might slay sin, deprive death of its power and bring man to life (3.18.6,7. 3.21.10). He then delivers this perfect performance of humanity to us direct, by the Spirit. We come by degrees into communion with God to participate in his divinity. Christ is the ascent of man. God intended from the beginning to be with man and that man will be with him. But one member of humanity has progressed all the way and has reached that full status of Man-with-God. The Church has received the Truth Truth is found only in the apostolic teaching of the catholic Church. The teaching of the Church is always the same. The Church believes that the apostles who passed on Scripture are in continuity with the apostles who wrote Scripture in the first place. The Church recognizes which writings are canonical and belong to the New Testament, and how to read the New Testament in faithfulness to its writers the witnesses of Jesus Christ. Other more recent teachings are examined to see whether they are in continuity with the teachings of the apostles and with the Word of God. The preaching of the Church is the same everywhere, and continues the same, and is confirmed by the prophets, the apostles, and all the disciples as I have shown from these at the beginning, the middle, and the end, and through the entire dispensation of God, and that well-grounded system which tends to man's salvation, namely, our faith. Since we received this faith from the Church, we preserve it. It is always renewed by the Spirit of God, just as some precious deposit in a wonderful vessel, renews that vessel and keeps it as new. This gift of God has been given to the Church, as breath was given to the first created man, so that all the members receiving it may be vivified. The means of communion with Christ is the Holy Spirit, the promise of incorruption, who has been distributed throughout the Church and is the means by which we confirming our faith, and the ladder of ascent to God. Anyone who reads the Scriptures carefully will find in them an account of Christ, and a foreshadowing of the new calling. Christ is the treasure hidden


the ground, hidden in this world. Christ is the treasure hidden in Scripture. He was pointed to by means of types and parables. Before its fulfillment, every prophecy is full of enigma and ambiguity. But when the time comes, and what was predicted takes place, their meaning is clear and recognized. [Against the heresies Book 4] When the Old Testament is read by the Jews, it appears as history to them. They do not have the explanation that everything relates to the advent of the Son of God in our human flesh. When the same Scripture is read by Christians, the hidden treasure comes to light through the cross of Christ [Book 4] Those who do not participate in the Spirit are not joined to the Church. By their bizarre views and destructive behaviour they defraud themselves of life. Other Teachers The Gospel challenges the teaching of all other teachers. Many teachers are convinced that they have found a way to improve the gospel. They invariably start by doing away with the Old Testament, and abandon faith in the promises made by God. They cut out what it sees as the baggage of the past and rub the awkward corners off the gospel to produce something that they think can be more easily received by todays generation. These are the fatal turnings off the main road into no mans land, from which they will not return. Many teach that there is another God above and beyond the Creator. They deny that so that it is through the Son all creation has come into being, and thus that it is the Father who is the Creator. They want to find another God above him because they cannot believe that the real God would really want to enter communion with man. The Gnostics dream of a non-existent being above Him, that they may be regarded as having found out the great God, whom nobody, they believe, can recognize holding communication with the human race, or as directing mundane matters: that is to say, they find out the god of Epicurus, who does nothing either for himself or others; that is, he exercises no providence at all. They find themselves in the creation and feel themselves to be strangers in it, so regard creation as an alien place. They suggest that because creation is bad, that was not responsible for creation, but the Creator and Christ are two different gods. In this case Christ also came to an alien place, the creation of a rival god. In this case the things of this created world, bread and wine, for instance, would not have obeyed him. If there are two gods, one good the other bad, neither can be the true God, and Christ cannot be the true God. The Christian will examine what Marcion says, and ask him why he believes that there are two Gods, separated from each other by an infinite distance. How can he be a good God who, though they don't belong to him, draws men


away from the God who made them, and calls them into his own kingdom? And why his goodness not up to the task of saving all? The Teaching of the Church is always the same True knowledge is the teaching of the apostles and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us. It has being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a complete system of doctrine, without additions or reductions. It consists in reading the word of God without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy. It consists in the pre-eminent gift of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts of God. The working of the whole body is exhibited through means of all its members. Just as a man is not completely represent by just a single part of his body, but by all parts together, so all the prophets prefigured Christ. Every one of them, in his special place as a member, fulfilled the established dispensation, and represented in advance the particular work of Christ that related to that member (Against Heresies). The Ascended Son is the True Adam Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father, and there, still dressed in our flesh, he now sits with the Father, shoulder to shoulder. Man is with God. One instalment of humanity and of human flesh has reached God, and now sits with God. One of us is with God already. He is our pioneer. The Son is with the Father. In the God-man God has brought humanity to earth. What we did not possess and could not guess at humanity, the creature in relationship with God was brought to us from heaven by the Son. It performed it on earth using the fragments we had. He made out of these fragments one seamless whole. And he issued from heaven this indivisibility that would inwardly restore our bodies-and-minds, supplying in unbroken indestructible stream indestructibility to our bodies, making us indestructible, as indivisible as the Spirit, so we are no longer vulnerable to dissolution and death. In this new Adam there is direct rule from heaven, a combined kingdom of earthwith-heaven, by which the earth will always be renewed from heaven. The local powers are taken away from the intermediary authorities and re-assigned to those who never received what was intended for them. The purpose was that the cosmos would be handed over to man, and that man and world should be together blessed by each other. As Christ is the head and the mind of man, so man is the head and mind of creation. Without Christ as his head, man is just a slave, a body ruled and divided by different powers, and thus is many competing parts, and many bodies without order or unity. When the Father is the head and mind, Christ will be all in all.