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The Christian Doctrine of God and Man
Christianity as Faith with Doctrine 1. Why Worship God?
If we are able to worship God we are saved from directing our worship, and lives, to any lesser entity. Worship of the true God saves us from the false gods. Christians talk about God in the face of the many gods. The Western tradition does not do this. It assumes that is that one God may or may not exist. The world is full of forces, principles and imperatives. This is the context in which Christians talk about God. When these forces are destructive of human life, the Christian gospel calls these ‘gods’ and ‘idols’. But the Christian doctrine of God rejects all other conceptions as inadequate, destructive and idolatrous. We cannot reject all concepts of God; we always have to say which concept of God you are trying to disprove. We can only dismiss the concept of God that we have described. So Christian theology does not ask if God exists, but which god is God? Asked the question ‘Why worship God?’ we have to ask ‘Which God’? What concept of God is being presented which we are then invited to affirm or to reject? Those who do not believe the gospel may imagine that Christians subscribe to a range of inadequate conceptions by which they suggest that Christians and Jews are simpletons who have made a simple error of logic that can be immediately identified and rectified. The defining belief of our age, that makes it the modern age, is that all other people, previous to ourselves, were idiots. This lack of modesty is also an absence of curiosity. It suggests that nothing is beyond our knowledge, and the present state of our knowledge cannot be improved. Such a belief in our own superiority is the first thing that we have to overcome before anything else becomes possible. In the first half of the semester we presented this course in Christian doctrine as though this was a matter of history, in which we learn about what took place long ago. In the second half the semester we have seen that some of those intellectual trends – which we can summarise as Gnosticism – are present in our own world, and constituted the worldview which we refer to as Modern and post-Modern. Modernity is Gnosticism. Gnostics believe that we are more truly ourselves as we distance ourselves from other people and from previous generations. This means that we have been suppressing the question of our own continuity and future. All other forms of human enquiry avoid the question that theology raises –question of whether we allow ourselves access to the whole truth, or whether we have given ourselves away to reductions of the truth – and whether we act like tyrants and gods over others, and coerce one another into these reductions. But the Church sustains an open world against the closed world of paganism, and against modernity which is paganism’s contemporary form. At the end of this semester we learn that we are situated in the same conflict of Gnostic and Arian theology as we were at the beginning. We have not progressed beyond the issues we met in the literature of the ancient pagan world, nor do we leave any those issue behind when we close these books to rejoin the world outside the university.
The concept of the person comes out of the discovery that God reveals himself, and he does so as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Persons are persons because other persons recognise them so. The person exists among. The concept of person makes our acknowledgement of the otherness of other persons fundamental to our existence. By setting man between him, God makes man a person, a responsibility-bearing agent.
The concept of the person is an invention of the Christian tradition, first made explicit in the fourth century by Saint Basil and fellow Cappadocian fathers. Persons are not persons made by nature. They are made because someone decided to make them, and so they are made in freedom, and not by nature. The Christian doctrine of persons says that we are accompanied into the public assembly by our sponsors, and the final sponsors of every created person are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The triune persons are the source of the being of every person and of the relationship of every person with every other person. The Church identifies Christ in terms of a human nature and a divine nature. Theological debate has assumed that these two natures are pretty constant qualities. But what stability does human nature have? What do humans have in common that makes them all of one nature? How does human nature hold us together? In the long run nature is not a strong enough force to do this, for we rather we fail to hold onto one another, but separate and drift apart. The fall threatens this human nature. The Doctrine of the Person God intends that we share his life and communion with him. Persons are plural beings. Your being is made by all other human beings, present, past, and to come. They hold you in being and are responsible for you, and you hold them in being and are responsible for them. The concept of the person is part of the Christian doctrine of the persons of God. The Christian doctrine of persons says that the final sponsors of every created person are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The triune persons of God are the source of the being of every person, and of the interrelatedness and the freedom of every person. Persons come into being together with other persons. We come into existence as we come into relationship with other persons. We become particular persons as we grow into the very particular form of humanity that comes from one specific human being, Jesus Christ. All human being is sourced through Christ and receives its definition from him: he is the criterion of humanity. This means that our existence as persons is not given to us complete at birth. It is part of a process, enabled by the Holy Spirit, which unfolds through time. As we are sanctified we become more human, more responsive and available to God and, through God, to one another. We become persons as we properly identify God, who causes and substantiates all distinctiveness and particularity, and from whom all reality comes. With the concept of person, the Church Fathers make a conceptual revolution. They insist that God is irreducibly person, and that being does not come before person. All persons owe their life to the good will to the person of God the Father. The (pagan) Greek ontology puts being (ousia) before persons. Being is stuff, a universal basic substance that pre-exists all the particularities of the cosmos and which will survive them. In this pagan cosmology persons and their freedom is temporary and questionable. Nature will eventually take their identity and freedom away from them again. It is not just the ancient Greeks that think this. The whole deep logic and grammar of the Western mind assumes – without being aware that it is doing so – that being is basic, and that life and freedom is secondary and temporary. Christian theology maintains that God creates life, and communion and freedom, and sustains them in being without limit. The Christian doctrine of persons says that we are accompanied into the public assembly by our sponsors. We are brought into public being, and public being is all the being there is, and that the final sponsors of every created person, are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The triune persons are the source of the being of every person, and of their communion with all other persons, and of their freedom in that communion. Talk of persons is theological and
eschatological talk. The Holy Spirit is the mediator of the persons of the Trinity. All the movement of the Son to the Father is the work of the Spirit, who calls, sends, trains and makes him obedient, and who raises him and seats him on the right hand from where he now works. Jesus is accompanied by the Spirit. He is never alone, without his company, the Spirit. We who are gathered to him are also never left without the company of his Spirit. The Revolution of Personal Being Thus the concept of the person is a Christian invention that allows us to refer to a Christian discovery. It is not just a theological revolution, but also a philosophical, political, social and anthropological revolution. There is nothing no fundamental than the individual person. The Western intellectual tradition has a deep prejudice that individual things, and individual persons, are derivative, not essential. It assumes that they are ultimately an aberration. In the Greek view of the world, being is basic, and whatever the present diversity and freedom, being will finally re-assert itself, and its dominance with crush all that is not itself. So in the pagan Greek ontology people had only a very questionable and temporary status. Nothing could prevent their existence from being taken away from them again. Thus persons are tragic beings, bound to be snuffed out by other forces. In the pagan view, the appearance of the material world was a mistake, but that this mistake will be rectified and everything in the cosmos will be re-absorbed. The world will disappear back into the one – or into the abyss – from which it came. This belief is part of the deep pessimism of an elite that regards the world as a thing of chaos, passion and disorder, and sees the multitude as a threat. It regards the mass of men as something that the philosopher has to see past to get to the truth. The Western tradition though, still driven by the (pagan) Greek ontology, puts one before many, and so regards manyness, and diversity as less real than oneness. Because it does this, it regards the way that (Christian) theology insists that persons are prior to being as unserious and unphilosophical. Yet the Western tradition has stalled because it is convinced that we are already entirely ourselves, that we are already in full possession of our existence and identity, and that no process or completion is required. But Christian theology, with its trinitarian logic has something different to offer. When it is clear that God is entirely distinct from creation and thus entirely distinct from our mind, it can tell us that we are not God and may not play God towards each other. It will then be able to say that we do indeed tend to make ourselves tyrants and divinities and prey on one another. Until we confess that we are not God, we hold the world in captivity and prevent one another from growing up into maturity. The Christian confession that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, led Christians to conclude that these are persons, and that since these persons regard us as persons, that we are persons too. This realisation that all humans are persons is a breakthrough. It has only been achieved by the Christian gospel and its consequences explored by cultures that have been shaped by the gospel, not by any other civilisations or religious traditions. You are a person and God is a person; the two you may regard one another as in some way as equals. The Christian doctrine of God also points out that God is quite different from us. It rescues us from the temptation to attempt to make ourselves more than creatures of God. We do not have to be everything, and thus to be ‘divine’: to be human is good. God is responsible for the maintenance of our whole economy of by which we give one another recognition and attribute reality to one another. Christianity is the single account of humankind for which universality – catholicity – is central. It points to the bringing into being not merely an elite but a whole people (the demos). We come into being as other people recognise us. This process results in an increasing recognition of otherness and freedom and an increasing realisation of freedom.
3. The Patience of God
The Servant who is Free, is Lord The Father hears the Son and accepts his speech and so vindicates him. He raises his Son from the dead and sits him at his right hand, far above all others. Christ is our servant by the gracious generosity of God. The Son was not needy. He did not have to work to establish his own identity or position, but trusted the Father for his whole identity and being. He did not have to sustain himself against all others by force. Because he is not needy, and does not need anything from us, he is free. The free act of the free God, makes us free to exercise the mode of the servant. We can be our own true selves as we defer to one another, love and serve one another. The gospel makes us free, and therefore free to exercise the mode of the servant, and in this to be freely ourselves. It gives us that freedom so, by promise, we already have it and do not need to seek it or establish it for ourselves. Until you become content to love and serve you will never be free. If you ever seek to be a lord you will never become one. Those who serve and are happy to do so, are free. Because we are under the discipline of Christ, we are free, and because we are free we are truly masters of ourselves. Salvation is incorporation into the servant office freely and willingly exercised by Christ. This lordship of Christ is the servanthood of Christ for us. The Son is a willing Son of the Father. He obeys the mandate the Father him and comes to serve us. The Lord has given his Son to be our servant. He has been appointed to work for us, and this is what he now doing. He will do everything we cannot do for ourselves. He will do for us, not what we want, but what his master wants for us. The servant has all the characteristics of his master. ‘The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour’ (1 Samuel 2.7-8). He has the characteristics promised to Israel in the form of Israel’s king. ‘He is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 7.6). He will have the qualities and of the offices of king. ‘The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth’ (Isaiah 11.2-4). He shall not judge by first appearances: he will see straight through all pretence. No other master will be able to deceive him and no other creature, not even the earth itself will be able to conceal anything from him. His eyes will see the bodies hidden by all the kings of the earth and he will raise them and expose the violence of those who hid them. He is a native of the country we are trying to enter, and is the only one who can take us there. This servant does not need to go off duty or to care for his own affairs before turning to us. He is tireless: ‘he will neither slumber nor sleep’ (psalm 121). He is, freely, our un-resting servant. The Son has been raised to the right hand of God. His exaltation reveals that he made the journey from God to man, and that his work is the work of God. His house is no partial construction but the whole house which God intends for man. The Son has reconciled heaven and earth in himself. By descending and ascending Christ has reconnected the two halves of creation so they are no longer severed and no longer in conflict.
The Son is Handed Over The willingness of the Son to serve is not deterred by our reluctance to receive thbis service from him. The Son is one with the Father in the incarnation and passion in which the Son took man on. The Son is able to take whatever we throw at him and absorb it. We took the gift of God as an act of aggression and resisted it, indeed this gift brought out all the violence in us, but he is able to absorb this aggression. We interpreted the generous gift of God as hostility and threw a blow at the Servant of God. The Servant took it, but all our forces failed to hold him down. He could take it from us, but we could not take it from him. We kept on coming against him, but he could take our punch without limit. So we overreached ourselves, were exhausted and pacified. Jesus is handed over to the world. Passivity is the form his action takes. We take and grasp him, imagining that we are acting on our own initiative and following our own course. But our acts are taken up into his act and made to serve his purposes for us. Although Jesus is the baptism, anointing and circumcision, he is baptised, anointed and circumcised. The one who may never die, suffers and dies. He suffers the world and is subjected to it. He provokes the world to demonstrate what is most intrinsic to it – death. He calls this death together so it gathers on the cross. The cross was our act of attempting to separate the Son from the Father, and failing to do so. The crucifixion is therefore one event with two aspects and two agents. We crucified the Son him but God raised him. The cross is our act against God. God withstands us. Our act is transformed by God into God's act – which we know as the resurrection. On the cross Jesus called death out of the world; Death was put to death and so cancelled out. The resurrection is what becomes of our act of crucifying him. Now all mankind is set under the canopy of the cross. Our death is suspended over us. The resurrection is not a moving away from the cross but is the vanishing of the sin that held us, and the appearance of the Son who was always ahead of us. It was the coming together of man and God. The Cross Reveals Us The Son comes to throw the irresponsible tenants out. But instead of annihilating them, he plays out their annihilation himself. On the cross the Son plays both armies. He plays the righteous Servant of God. And he plays the unrighteous rulers who unwisely lay hands on this servant. He displays these two roles and outcomes. The Son played our violence against him in usurping and resisting him. And he played his act in refusing that violence and deposing us. He played us. He let us play out on him a controlled version of our own destruction, a miniature version of the whole action we inflict on one another, along with its outcome. The Son impersonates and personifies us until we can do this for ourselves. The Son plays us. He is publicly raised to play this role, and is displayed so he is visible, the cross as stage as it were. He plays out two versions of us. His performance asks us which of them we will become. In our own time we can admit and confess that he has indeed represented to us all the alternatives and they do indeed come down to this choice of life against or life with him. He sets out for us the outcome of each of these ways. Christ displayed on the cross the broken power of the masters. Christ takes the role of the these vanquished kings so that we can see that they are vicious and helpless. When we see that they are helpless we will abandon them, so that they are no longer our masters. They represent one possible future for us, which may now avoid. We can turn away from destruction. We said that in the battle the Son charges against the masters. He cuts through them, they split and panic, they run, are brought down and defeated. They surrender and abandon all that does not belong to them. All vicious masters are deposed and thrown out to
those they abused. Our leaders are unable to hold on to us and we abandon them. Each of us who had usurped the place of judge over all others is demoted. Whoever usurped the place of judge is judged and removed. Our masters’ power over us is broken and we are taken out of their power. We become dead to them, so they are no longer masters. As they are no longer able to source their power for us, their power is gone and they cease to be masters. We have been separated from them and they from us. We have died to them and they have died to us. As our masters they have died and as their servants we have died.
‘Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’ (Colossians 2.13-14).
In the Son’s possession are all the masters he has taken captive. All the tyrants are gathered up into his train. They ‘are led in triumphal procession’ (Isaiah 60.10), for the Son has bound ‘their kings with fetters their nobles with shackles of iron’ (Psalm 149.8). And inasmuch as we tyrannised over others, our power to do so is taken away and our ability to threaten them is removed. The Christ who is on the cross is us alone, as we wanted to be. But being without Christ has proved to be an agony to us. Without God, we inflict pain on one another and keep our whole society on the rack. Man wants to love and to be loved, but he also fears that he may not be loved, and he wants to remain in control, so he withdraws himself from love again. His a black hole that sucks love in but does not let out again. So Christ acted as the black hole that sucked in all our hate, and did not allow it to escape again. Our fear is strong, but Christ is stronger and will prevail, and our fear will be overcome by his patience. The cross is all the violence of the world distilled into one single moment. This violence becomes visible in this single of Jesus crucified. The cross is both the appalling misery and violence that holds man, and the glory of God, that even in all his misery, holds on to man, and sustains him. His covenant is irrevocable. Even if we attempted to destroy all creation, we could not destroy the love that creates it and which sustains every relationship in it. There is no place so appalling that God detaches man from himself and lets him go. There is no place where evil will prevail and have the last word. If we are not turned outwards towards God, we are turned in on ourselves. We become fascinated by pleasure and by the present, and never discover that there is anything beyond. But self-love does not proper define our problem. The problem is that our love has no focus. Our passions and drives go in all directions, and thus we love all sorts incompatible things and love none of them properly. We do not know how to love one another or even ourselves, because we do not know how to consider ourselves and what our goals could be. Since we do not know God's definition of us, our future and our interests, we do not how to pursue our own proper interests or future. Jesus was raised and taken out of our power. God reversed the verdict and action of man. Their act rebound on them. The bonds with which they tied him and by which they attempted to hold him are thrown off and it is no longer they who hold him but he who holds them. They are grasped and cannot escape his hold. Son of God is raised from his enemies. By the resurrection, the crucifixion of Christ was lifted from Christ and placed instead on the many who had crucified him. The act of man is death, the act of God is life. The Servant is revealed to be free even through all his service of us and our rejection of him.
4. The Passion of the Risen Lord
The way of Jesus Christ is the way in which we may become fully present and incarnate to one another. The way of Jesus is the passion. We call to mind his death on the cross. We need to say three things about the passion: it is ours first, and Christ’s second, and ours-inChrist third. First, the passion is ours. The world suffers, we suffer and we inflict suffering on one another. We are thumped and helplessly we thump back, repeating and passing on the sin and passion we experience. In this way we suffer our passion without understanding, and without hope of it ever coming to an end. We suffer pointlessly because we never come to our goal. The whole creation groans and travails (Romans 10). The world that does not recognise Christ has no means of self-control and so it dissolves and leaches away. The world is bleeding. But Christ regards the world as his own, his people and his body, and so he identifies their suffering as his own. He identifies himself with it entirely. The world is the body that belongs to Christ, and which pointlessly wounds itself and bleeds. The world does so because it does not yet recognise itself as Christ recognises it; since it does not recognise him so it does not recognise itself as his, and so it does not know itself and as a result it is in agony. Secondly, Christ takes on this suffering and makes it his own. He becomes incarnate in the world: his entire incarnation was a passion. In becoming man, one man among many, he took on all the mundane trials and experiences that human beings go through. We learn through some of these experiences, and fail to learn through others, but Christ learned through all the painful experiences and encounters. He served the same apprenticeship we all do, but unlike the rest of us, he did not resent it, or try to escape it, but suffered it contently and fully. He took what we try to evade. He received what was inflicted on him but, unlike the rest of us, he did not pass this punishment on. We lash out, but he does not. We attempted to force him into the same forms of evasion, expecting him to make his peace through compromise with the various forces around us. As he did not acknowledge any of these forces, our attempts did not succeed. So we attempted to deny him life altogether. But he bore what, in our distress and rage, we meted out to him. Christ’s passion is the human passion, not evaded, not passed on, but fully experienced and suffered to the end. He is able to bear us, and is entirely content and free as he does so. In his passion he took on the full fury of human anguish. The anger of the world was directed at him but he did not buckle. He withstood everything we threw at him. It was uniquely directed at him and he absorbed it, until it was exhausted and finished. Our determination to take life away from him was outmatched by his ability to take the beating and stripping we gave him, and to grow up through it into the true form of man. He used our violence for his up-building. Since he suffered what we inflicted on him, purposefully and effectively, and arrived at the true form of humanity, this passion turns out to be entirely purposeful. So thirdly, in the body of Christ, and therefore inseparably with Christ, we are now able to undergo this passion that strips all false and partial relationships from us. We suffer what the world inflicts on us. All the false relationships with which we have dressed ourselves up are taken away. Christ allows the world to strip us of these, so we lose everything that does not belong to us. And then he clothes us again, in the garments of the indissoluble new creation. Our passion is therefore inseparably his-and-ours together. What the world gives so violently, the Holy Spirit enables us to receive purposefully. Christ’s presence changes our passion from pointless and exhausting, to purposeful and transformative. The Spirit directs
our reception of this suffering so that we do not kick back and so pass the violence on; our suffering now brings the world into the communion of God. The body of Christ is the route opened by which the world may proceed to its redemption. Without God, we inflict pain on one another and keep our whole society on the rack. Man wants to love and to be loved, but he also fears that he may not be loved, and he wants to remain in control, so he withdraws himself from love again. His a black hole that sucks love in but does not let out again. So Christ acted as the black hole that sucked in all our hate, and did not allow it to escape again. Our fear is strong, but Christ is stronger and will prevail, and our fear, of him and of one another, will be overcome by his patience. The cross is all the violence of the world distilled into one single moment. This violence becomes visible in this single of Jesus crucified. The cross is both the appalling misery and violence that holds man, and the glory of God, that even in all his misery, holds on to man, and sustains him. His covenant is irrevocable. Even if we attempted to destroy all creation, we could not destroy the love that creates it and which sustains every relationship in it. There is no place so appalling that God detaches man from himself and lets him go. There is no place where evil will prevail and have the last word.
5. Christ and his People
Christ is the whole, head and body. He provides the body with its wholeness and integrity. Poor connection between the two halves of man had meant that the human body had received hardly anything of the life that God breathes into the world. Man is two insufficiently-connected systems, intellectual and animal, upper and lower. But through baptism the Holy Spirit breaches the wall that hold these systems apart and unites the two halves of man, filling the whole lower body by the spiritual supply that runs into it from the headwaters. The interior and exterior worlds are re-united to become one. The indivisible Spirit of God deliver this unity and connection to each body externally and internally. The head becomes spread through the body, his character and attributes devolved to all parts of it. Then in every part and member the head and the body can be found in obedient mutual service. The body is made indivisible and universal. Creation as Temple and Entry to Heaven This world is God’s place for us. It is the house and temple in which he will live with us and us with him. All that is in it is good, and it remains good as we allow God to renew and refresh it for us. When we do not receive it from him and thank him for it in our worship, the world, becomes increasingly disordered and we ourselves become increasingly at desperate and at odds, and a danger to ourselves to one another. God, the Holy Spirit, has made a world of created and physical things for us. The Spirit gives us bodies so we can be present to one another, and he makes the letter and the law, the Scripture, and the many words of God. As long as these words are sourced from the Spirit, and return to him to be refreshed by him, they are good. When they are withheld from him, they may decay and cease to be what he made them. The Holy Spirit supplies us also with order and instruction, guides and guidelines, rules and institutions, forms of public order and worship. The Spirit is not against the letter, or tradition or rules, unless he considers that they are against us. He creates, sustains and renews them. He is not responsible only for the spontaneity, but also for the continuity and reliability of all that is. We can talk about the Holy Spirit only by talking about the continuum of this world with heaven as the act of God. We talk about the Spirit by talking about the world as the act of his hospitality. The cosmos is not closed. However much we know about the cosmos, and however tight our control over it, our control and knowledge cannot be complete. We cannot determine its future, but have to acknowledge that it is an open cosmos.
The world is a miniature copy of heaven, given to us so that we can practice and grow. Just as Israel had the temple in order to practice the new form of human existence given by God, so we are in the world so we can practice and be trained until we are ready for that full reality. Earth is the whole reality of heaven, abridged for us. The temple of Israel had a hidden door from the miniature cosmos, the temple, into the real cosmos beyond. The messiah alone knows where the secret door into the real, heavenly temple is, hidden at the back of the holy of holies. He has opened that door, and there is now a staircase leading from it. Christ himself is that door and staircase, on which the angels, and by which all spiritual supplies come down to us. And this gate opens not just a way upwards, but also outwards, into a much larger and more spacious place than the world we presently occupy. Christ does not lead us up out of this creation; this creation, when it is open to heaven, is perfect. Rather he leads us out into this creation, out from the small corner of it to which we have hitherto confined ourselves and into all its vast dimensions. The Dimensions of the Kingdom Every king is king just as far as his power extends. Christ’s power reach extends to the top and bottom of creation. He is the full extent of God’s power and he holds this kingdom together and keeps it one kingdom.
‘In him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1.15).
The kingdom of Christ is the love and provision of God for us. It is long and high and deep.
‘being rooted and grounded in love may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’ (Ephesians 3.18).
The dimensions of the tabernacle in Exodus and of the temple described by Ezekiel point to the perfection of the finished creation, and to measureless extent of the kingdom and provision of Christ for us. The love of God is powerful beyond anything else, and will hold it together and keep it one single entity. It will prevail against all forces that would threaten it, and so will last forever.
‘You are clothed with honour and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a tent, you set the beams of your chambers on the waters’ (Psalm 104.1-4).
The temple is the whole set of floors that rise up to the top. Those floors which are presently out of our sight we call heaven. There is a gate from the temple, the miniature cosmos, into the real cosmos beyond. The messiah alone knows the entrance into the real temple and house of God. He has opened that gate, and he is our way through. He is the staircase on which the angels go up and come down (Exodus 28). The land beyond this door is much larger and more spacious than the land we presently occupy, the land we have restricted ourselves to and which we have been restricted to. Christ is the foundation and cornerstone (Ephesians 2.20). In him the whole building is joined together’ (Ephesians 2.21) and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. The Church is being built together. ‘You are being built together’ (Ephesians 2.22). They are being built out of many genera and creaturely parts into one resurrection body. Different phyla and genera form different elements: gold and fine materials are employed for the public rooms, wood and ordinary materials for the service rooms. They are all components of the one building and there is no dishonour in playing a merely ordinary part in this building. Christ is the master builder. The Lord works with own hands, using only what he himself has created, not merely shaping existing material. Christ’s hands cut, shaped and built us together. Christ and no other builder made this building. This construction is made by stones cut by Christ; this is ‘the circumcision done by Christ’ (Colossians 2.11). Mortal builders can only build in dissension and thus its inevitable decay. Since the Lord built this temple, no time or decay will prevail against it. What he has done, no one can undo. What is built by
‘the hands of men’ can be pulled down, but what is built by ‘the hand of the king’ no one can pull down, so this building, only, will last. Christ is the logos of the cosmos. He holds the whole together and he holds the top and bottom together, to make this creation.
‘Christ loved the Church and dedicated himself to making to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of with water through the word’ (Ephesians 5.25).
Christ and his body fills the heavens and earth, uniting heaven to earth and all creation. All previous human action has created a ceiling above our heads, cutting us off from the heavens. But the Son has gone into every corner of creation, so no part of creation remains alien to him and no part holds out against him. Christ now inhabits the whole world and holds it together, earth to heaven, the bottom to the top. He has broken through the ceilings we imposed on one another, and through the floor, emptying hell and filling the whole cosmos. In ascending Christ has reached past through all the limits represented by previous kingdoms and domains of knowledge and opened the full extent of creation, revealing the vast extent of reality to each previously cut off corner of creation. The Risen One Dwells With Us Jesus’ incarnation and passion are the work of his eternity, which we know as the resurrection. His eternity, his inexhaustible economy, allows him to become present to us, and so present in time. And his eternity brings creation into being and so creates time just so we may come into communion with him, and receive his presence and receive one another from him, so we will be human as he is already perfectly human. From the communion of God, divine communion floods in to us, so that eternity renews time without end. Eternity is breaking into time, divinity eternally breaking into humanity and uniting it to divinity. We experience this an in-breaking into history; eternity breaks into humanity both eternally and historically. All the services that seem to us to be set at different times are in fact going on simultaneously. They are going on in the time God gives them, and so immediately before God. God supplies them with the time they have, and he supplies that undivided time to us, as we can take it, in small instalments, one after another. Time originates with God. He supplies it to his people. It spills out from the Church into the world outside the Church, there to become the plain, linear, everyday time, that we all assume is the only sort of time there is. Each Church service is the merciful extension of new time for the world, an extension of opportunity to all its people. Only the people made by the resurrection can experience and suffer the passion to its end, become intercessors for the world, and acknowledge its redemption with worship and thanksgiving, with the whole company of earth and heaven. Christ Sanctifies his Body We have been brought into a communion of persons. Our participation in this communion thickens as we meet one person after another. These persons are given to us; because God has prepared them for us and dedicated them to us, we call them saints, that is, the sanctified. We come into relationship with all generations of the Church. We know that these sanctified Christians of different generations pray and that we pray, and we even pray for each other. Christ entered the suffering that we inflict on one another and on ourselves. It was our suffering, but he made it his and no longer ours. He suffered the passion that we inflict on him, purposefully and effectively, and came through it. We are the apprenticeship he served. Its purpose has been fulfilled. Jesus Christ has graduated from the violent testing at our hands and has become the man with all men. He has ascended to this stature of man-withall-men and so of man-with-God.
Christ is at work. His service of the Father includes service to us. He is the ‘ever-living sacrifice’, the servant who serves and provides for his people, making them holy and giving them without limit what is his to give, which is his own uninterrupted life and communion with God and with all creation. His eternity with the Father empowers his service and enables him to be the eternal servant of mankind, entirely and inexhaustibly available for us. Christ makes us holy and presents us as such, so we are his sacrifice. Christ its head sacrifices his body, by making it holy and presenting to the Father. Christ is the giver, we are the gift and God receives us from him. In all this the gift is both one person, Christ, and many persons, all those whom he brings with him. Not only are the giver and receiver persons, but so is their gift and sacrifice. God makes his people holy. Christ brings us into the holy life and communion of God. He makes his people holy. Sacrifice does not primarily mean to kill or to give away, but to make holy. The very etymology of the word ‘sacrifice’ points us in this direction – sacri- (holy) ficere (to make). This Christian use of the term sacrifice is entirely different from the more usual account, in which it means a coerced exchange. Along with ‘sacrament’ and ‘sanctification’, ‘sacrifice’ refer to work of the persons of God in giving us and receiving us, and so making us holy and sustaining us in their communion. the Church sings: We are being holy, and all creation is being made holy, and in this Christian sense, we have to say that we are the sacrifice of Christ. In the Old Testament books of Exodus and Leviticus we learn that in the temple sacrifices Israel demonstrated that God is forming his people and making them holy. As evidence of this sanctification process God commands the people of Israel to report back at intervals with samples of their husbandry. Chief evidence of would be the health and moral maturity of the people themselves. The community of Israel brought animals to the temple for God to inspect and pronounce good (or not), and thus to assess and agree on the progress of this sanctification. It is the whole people that is being made holy: the animals and the land are subordinately holy as they demonstrate and contribute to this process. As we practise and learn we are to present him with the products that are evidence of our learning. We are to send him gifts. What we have to send up from God’s inspection is ourselves. Yet we are not ready (holy) to go, so we send representatives and tokens of ourselves. We send someone else up, and send with them something that will represent us before the Lord. This could be whatever we have produced in our own household that will be truly a token of ourselves. In its worship Israel spelled out that the prayers of the righteous and the fertility of the land are in some if not causal then gracious relationship. We are not driven by fear to placate God with gifts, but rather God adores us, woos us and in everlasting patience serves us. God sacrifices to us. We may also raise and offer one another to God. We may present one another to God, as the Spirit enables us to do so. Now we can say also that other people are our sacrifice and offering. We bring them in Christ to God. We bring the people who owe their faith to us into the assembly of God. The gift we bring to God in Christ is one another. The Lord commands the Church to break and distribute itself and make itself the opening that the world go through, so the Church suffers the world. The Church is the gate through which the world presently outside the body of Christ can enter and along which it must go. The Church is Passover for the world: they will walk over our bodies to their salvation. They are saved by our works, our service and passion. They will deal out whatever rage they want to us, and in Christ we will be able to take it without giving it back, and so without being moved by it. The Church – the people of God present to us in this generation – is the conduit and passage through which the world enters the communion of God. Thus it is the Church which is present, with Christ, in the Eucharist. The whole Church is given to the present
Church and the present Church is part of the eucharistic bread which it holds out to the world. In the Holy Spirit Christ makes us present to one another, but he does not do this unilaterally, for this would be a unilateral imposition. He offers us one another, and he waits until we are able to receive one another as good gifts, bringing us to our proper relative places. Christ not only gives but waits. He does not give us one another all at once, but serially, through time. He serves us and waits on us and waits for us, and this waiting is what time is. The saints are the voices of those without voice, who keep open the world’s crisis of identity. For now Christ makes himself present only in this disguised form, so that our freedom to receive this life from him, or not to receive it, is entirely ours.
6. We Look for his Coming in Glory…
The Church looks forward. We look back to the incarnation of Jesus in order to see forward to our own future with him. The communion of God spans past and future and brings all ages together into one. Christ makes man eternally and steadily incarnate and present to God. Christ is man with God, so that humanity is always with God, never separated from him. As Man is with God, so each man is with his fellow. In this holy communion God is entirely committed to us and makes himself available and vulnerable to us so that nothing can break this relationship. Those who are in communion with Christ will never be separated from him or one another. Christ is with us, without limit and without end. The Spirit sets us ‘in Christ’. We know Jesus Christ (the one) as we acknowledge his people (the many), for he can only be known truly in the community which the Holy Spirit sanctifies. We come to know Christ through the life of the Church, and so through all the saints and teachers whom the Holy Spirit presses into our service, along with the sacraments, tradition, gifts and offices that enable us to participate in this worship. The resurrection that raises us to Christ, will also raise us and bring us face to face with all men. He now sends us all people ahead of him to us, so our resurrection, imperceptibly underway since our baptism, consists in meeting these saints who already make up his Body. The same Spirit who makes Christ unassailable enables his invincibility to serve us with an infinite patience and gentleness. Christ is the fundamental entity that cannot be broken up or reduced to any else. He is the person who determines that we are persons, and can never be reduced to anything less. The Spirit raises you from me, making you more than I can ever control. Christ and the Spirit together are responsible for our unity and for all the distinctions that makes us different from one another. He differentiates us from one another, establishing us as unique and irreplaceable particulars. Christ makes his people one indivisible whole, and the Church is this future whole, making itself present to us in time. God sends us instalments of this whole which make it publicly present within the world, in the communion of this people. The Holy Spirit holds the disparate community of the Church together as this one body. He has glorified man and crowned him with glory and honour in Christ. Since nothing can stop the Spirit who raised him from raising us, Christ’s resurrection is promise and warning of our own. The Church witnesses that the resurrection has commenced, in the resurrection of the one, Christ, and points ahead to completion in the resurrection of the many. In each place that it meets, the Church is the evidence that Christ is drawing all men to himself, bringing each into connection with all. This future and final assembly makes itself present to the present world in this hidden form of the Church. In the Eucharist each church intercedes with the Lord on behalf of its own locality. Each Christian prays for those members of his own family and society, past and present, and in these prayers these persons become present within the assembly.
The Spirit Sets Us Before One Another The Spirit enables us to recognise one another. The Lord intends that we be free; his invitation to freedom is what the future is. If the future were fixed or necessary, is future would simply be more of the present. No future can be foisted on us. We can only be said to be beings with a future if we become, and remain, free: we must be willing contributors to it, for our identity will not be decided without our collaboration. If God were a universally manifest and inescapable fact it would make freedom impossible. So God withholds his glory, so that that it is mystery, revealed and known only in faith. In this faith we look for the resurrection that will make his body, and his glory, complete. The future is the invitation Christ issues to us to share life with him and with all his people. But it is not enough that Christ gives us our identity, but we must also take it up. We do not have to take it up, but we may do so. We are free to take life or to refuse it. Our identity becomes truly our own as we love him and love his people as our own. We receive our life as we receive it from him, and receive it from him through all these sanctified people whom he has prepared for us. Christ does not regard himself as complete without us, so he waits for us; the saints and whole communion wait for us with him, and so we must also wait for each other. Our lives are therefore part of a process and a history, enabled by the Holy Spirit. Because we all participate in it, this history unfolds through time. Waiting for other people is what time is for. In the prayers of the Eucharist we ask God to give us all whom we are waiting for, along with all the grace to receive them, and so make this body complete. We mourn for those who are not yet present, for their absence means that we are not yet present to one another as we wish to be. The whole Christ, and our own very being, is waiting for them. Christ calls us and listens for us, and regardless of how long it takes, waits for each particular person to hear and answer in freedom. He is able to wrest us out of one another’s grasp, tell us apart from all other persons and confirm who we are. However deep we have been buried, he hears us, and can uncover and restore us to life. As creatures, we are divisible by time and so located by it, so we presently see the body of Christ strung out across time, like stragglers in a race, its unity is hidden. But time cannot ultimately divide this body: though events chafe away, they will never prevail against it, but they will purify this body until it is finally be revealed as holy. Because it is the communion of God, the Church will stand forever: now the mutual love of its members demonstrates its undefeated good order at every Eucharist. The resurrection will bring us face to face with all other persons. The resurrection that raises us to God will also raise to them, and them to us. Christ now sends us all these people ahead of him to us, so we receive him as we learn to receive them. Our resurrection, which has been imperceptibly underway since our baptism, presently comes to us in this slow anticipatory way through meeting these saints who already make up the glorified body of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist, which is the union of God with man taking place before us, gathers us and makes us fully present and available to one another at last. Man is made for the society of God. We are created to be as free for God and for one another as God is free for us. In baptism we receive the divinity and humanity of God together, inseparably. We don’t discover the humanity of God and then the divinity, or discover the passion and then the resurrection. The resurrection demonstrates the indissoluble union of the Son with the Father, and the Spirit brings us into this same union. The resurrection comes to us, slowly so that we are unaware of it. It allows the wear and tear of the world to strip all false relationships from us. We do not want to be unclothed, says Saint Paul (2 Corinthians 5.4) but we look forward to being properly clothed at last. To put on glory is to take off sin. Since we experience the removal of sin as a passion, this passion is the form the resurrection presently takes for us.
All humanity is present to Christ. He is the truth of man with God. Yet we are not yet able to receive this full and complete incarnation, so he is not yet with us in the way he will be. We are present and incarnate to one another only in a very deficient way. Even when directly before you, I fail to receive all of what you want to communicate to me, I do not have the concentration to respond to you in anything like the way you would like. I do not honour or respect you as you should be honoured and I do not serve you as you should be served. I am afraid so I withhold myself from you, and do not let you become truly present to me, or let myself become truly present to you and so truly yours. Both inadvertently and deliberately we withhold ourselves from one another. Our human commonality is fallen flesh, a failure to be truly present and available to one another. In order to become properly incarnate to one another and to him, we have to let go of whatever relationships are not right, and so we have a passion to undergo. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ. The Spirit distinguishes Christ from all others, and unites all others to him as members of his body. Christ cannot be isolated or separated from the whole people of God, whom he regards as his own glory. The Spirit sets us ‘in Christ’. We know Jesus Christ (the one) as we acknowledge his people (the many), for he can only be known truly in the community which the Holy Spirit sanctifies. We come to know Christ through the life of the Church, and so through all the saints and teachers whom the Holy Spirit presses into our service, along with the sacraments, tradition, gifts and offices that enable us to participate in this worship. The same Spirit who makes Christ unassailable enables his invincibility to serve us with an infinite patience and gentleness. Christ is the fundamental entity that cannot be broken up or reduced to any else. He is the person who determines that we are persons, and can never be reduced to anything less. The Spirit raises you from me, making you more than I can ever control. Christ and the Spirit together are responsible for our unity and for all the distinctions that makes us different from one another. He differentiates us from one another, establishing us as unique and irreplaceable particulars. Christ makes his people one indivisible whole, and the Church is this future whole, making itself present to us in time. God sends us instalments of this whole which make it publicly present within the world, in the communion of this people. The Holy Spirit holds the disparate community of the Church together as this one body. He has glorified man and crowned him with glory and honour in Christ. Since nothing can stop the Spirit who raised Christ from raising us too, Christ’s resurrection is promise and warning of our own. The Church witnesses that the resurrection has commenced, in the resurrection of the one, Christ, and points ahead to its completion in the resurrection of the many. In each place that it meets, the Church is the evidence that Christ is drawing all men to himself, bringing each of us into relationship with all others. The future and final assembly makes itself present to the present world in this hidden form of the Church. The Spirit Frees Us for One Another The Spirit intends that we be free; his invitation to freedom is what the future is. No future can be foisted on us. If the future were fixed or necessary, is future would simply be more of the present. We can only be said to be beings with a future if we become, and remain, free: we must be willing contributors to it, for our identity will not be decided without our collaboration. If God were a universally manifest and inescapable fact it would make freedom impossible. So God withholds his glory, so that that it is mystery, revealed and known only in faith. In this faith we look for the resurrection that will make his body, and his glory, complete. The future is the invitation Christ issues to us to share life with him and with all his people.
But it is not enough that Christ gives us our identity. We must take it up ourselves . We do not have to take it up, but we may do so. We are free to take life or to refuse it. Our identity becomes truly our own as we love him and the people he sends us. We receive our life as we receive it from him, and receive it from him through all these sanctified people whom he has prepared for us. Christ does not regard himself as complete without us, so he waits for us; the saints and whole communion wait for us with him, and so we must also wait for each other. Our lives are therefore part of a process and a history, enabled by the Holy Spirit, which unfolds through time. Waiting for other people is what time is for. Christ calls and listens for us, and regardless of how long it takes, waits for each particular person to hear and answer in freedom. He is able to wrest us out of one another’s grasp, tell us apart from all other persons and confirm who we are. However deep we have been buried, he hears us, and can uncover and restore us to life. As creatures, we are divisible by time and so located by it, so we presently see the body of Christ strung out across time, like stragglers in a race, its unity is hidden. But time cannot ultimately divide this body: though events chafe away, they will never prevail against it, but they will purify this body until it is finally be revealed as holy. The resurrection will bring us face to face with all men. The resurrection that raises us to God will also raise to them, and them to us. Christ now sends us all these people ahead of him to us, so we receive him as we learn to receive them. Our resurrection, which has been imperceptibly underway since our baptism, presently comes to us in this slow anticipatory way through meeting these saints who already make up the glorified body of Jesus Christ. The Church looks forward. It looks back to the incarnation of Christ in order to see forward to our own future with Christ. The communion of God spans past and future and brings all ages together into one community. Christ makes man eternally and steadily incarnate and present to God. Christ is man with God, so that humanity is with God never without him. As he is man with God, so he is man with man, in fellowship. In this holy communion he is entirely committed to us and makes himself available and vulnerable to us so that nothing can break this relationship. Man is made for the society of God. We are created to be as free for God and for one another as God is free for us. In baptism we receive the divinity and humanity of God together, inseparably. We don’t discover the humanity of God and then the divinity, or discover the passion and then the resurrection. The resurrection demonstrates the indissoluble union of the Son with the Father, and the Spirit brings us into this same union. The resurrection comes to us, slowly so that we are unaware of it. It allows the wear and tear of the world to strip all false relationships from us. We do not want to be unclothed, says Saint Paul (2 Corinthians 5.4), but we look forward to being properly clothed at last. To put on glory is to take off sin. Since we experience the removal of sin as a passion, this passion is the form the resurrection presently takes for us. All humanity is present to Christ. He is the truth of man with God. Yet we are not yet able to receive this full and complete incarnation, so he is not yet with us in the way he will be. We are present and incarnate to one another only in a very deficient way. Even when directly before you, I fail to receive all of what you want to communicate to me, I do not have the concentration to respond to you in anything like the way you would like. I do not honour or respect you as you should be honoured and I do not serve you as you should be served. I am afraid so I withhold myself from you, and do not let you become truly present to me, or let myself become truly present to you and so truly yours. Both inadvertently and deliberately we withhold ourselves from one another. Our human commonality is fallen flesh, a failure to be truly present and available to one another. In order to become properly incarnate to one
another and to him, we have to let go of whatever relationships are not right, and so we have a passion to undergo.
7. Communion and Truth
Our existence comes together with membership of two communions, the (holy) communion of God, and the community of the human race. The Church is the communion of God making itself known among the human race. Membership of these two communities is primary: all our knowledge derives from membership of these two communities, one of which overlaps with the other. We may gain know of the communion of God by means of the discipline offered to members of the Church. The discipline that prepares us for the company of God attune us to the whole truth of that company, and it does so by freeing us from captivity to all half-truths. The Spirit empties us of all partial spirits and fills us purely with the catholic and universal. The Spirit propels the name of Christ through us making us admit and confess and know God as Christ – so it is a Spirit motivated people, prevented from worshipping the pretend gods and enabled to worship the real God. All the councils of the Church re-state and reinforce the breakthrough achieved at Nicaea. We may know God as Father and as Son – and Holy Spirit. And we may know ourselves, and we may recognise one another, as human, as we acknowledge that we are creatures of God who may share life within the communion of God. knowledge of God gives us knowledge of man. Knowledge of God is available within the communion of the Church, and as its doctrine. The Christian doctrine of God insists that we know God through the FatherSon relation because the Holy Spirit allows us to participate in his knowledge of them. Christian doctrine summarises the teaching given to the Church and transmitted by the Church to the world. This doctrine is tested and affirmed over long periods of time by the whole Church. A doctrine has to be recognised as such by the whole Church before it can finally be said to be Christian teaching. The decisions of the leaders of the Church, must be affirmed by the whole Christian people before they can be regarded as binding, for the doctrine of the church is offered to the world by the whole Christian people . Right teaching corrects our accounts of the faith There are many misleading accounts of God and of Man. These deviations are unable to tolerate thought that God has come to man. they cannot concede that person are fundamental. Heresies represent the attempt of surrounding culture to what to set the new Christian teaching into its own framework, to break up Christian teaching and re-combine its elements within some existing logic and world-system. The age-old trends of pagan thought tend to subordinate persons to a concept of nature. This makes them no longer persons and agents, who do willingly, deliberately and freely what they do, but mere personifications of prior causality. But it is the job of the Church to continue to say that, though there may be many lords there is only one God, and the revealed name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit that summarises the Christian gospel is our only way to acknowledge him. Blessing – the Righting of the World God blesses us. With this blessing, we may bless others, who in turn bless others. To bless is to give the public recognition and material means that enables others to function fully as members of God's people. God has given his name to the poor and put his words in their mouths.
‘On that day the Spirit will tell you want to say’. ‘He who listens to you listens to me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me’ (Luke 10.16). ‘Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4.4).
The blessing of God restores the world. It gives us restitution, righting of those situation which had been upside down. To bless is to give someone what they need, which is primarily recognition. To curse is to withhold your recognition of them and take away their public status and means. The blessings of the Sermon on the Mount are a re-issue of the ten commandments and thus a re-affirmation of the covenant. These ten blessings (baruk) give a description of the character of the true Israelite, spelled out under ten aspects. The true Israel is ‘poor in spirit’, not self-assertive, but meek, mourns, is meek, waiting, indeed hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Israel is merciful, pure in heart, makes peace, is persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and is reviled. Withholding the Blessing – Alternations of the Gospel The gospel gives us the name to which to address our prayers and the authority to call God to act. People do not know who to turn to when news of their salvation is withheld from them. The poor have to be taught the name to call, the gospel of Christ, to whom to turn for their release from sin, and when they do not call, they have to be interceded for. The gospel of God gives them access to God and the right to appeal to him for their salvation. The gospel must be handed on to them. The church that does not fully pass on this message of the message of salvation, and with it the power to call God has betrayed the people to which it is sent. It is not a blessing but a curse.
‘If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned’ (Galatians 1.9). ‘Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and does not do it, sins’ (James 4.17).
Christian Doctrine as Blessing The life we are given include a set of skills and virtues. The many rules that set out the servant life represent the gentleness of Christ to me. I am under authority, an actual grounded, incarnate, particular, special authority and discipline. We are the disciples of a lord who is concerned enough for us to tell us what to do. We are not left alone before Christ. Christ himself gives us someone to look after us, someone to be a restraint on us, someone who will get into trouble if I show no progress under their care. I am not left alone to wander around unsupervised here on earth. I have a guardian set over me to supervise me and keep me out of trouble, someone responsible for my education and formation. He will correct me whenever I need it. I do not choose him. Only in accepting that he has been chosen for me can I begin to embark on the growing into the freedom that I am now being prepared for. This discipleship is authoritarian. It is the process of being Christ-ed, that keeps us in the body, in the Spirit. Christ disciples me with all his disciplinarians, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and our contemporaries. Christianity has done what the other schools of philosophers wanted to do. He has abated and quelled the passions of man. He has brought wisdom to man and created a new race of ascetics-philosophers. They left the madness of the world, in order to exercise the prophetic gift for the Church. The Unity of Christian Doctrine The importance of the Church’s defence of its walls and its integrity is to maintain its definition against the world and for the world. The doctrine of the Church is agreed and affirmed in the councils of the Church, under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. These truths are from the beginning, so councils simply re-state and clarify doctrine, bringing us back to the unchanging gospel and deposit of faith.
We cannot pick and choose elements of the faith to adhere to. We cannot immediately perceive the purpose of all we have inherited. It is the whole canon and the whole Christ, the unacceptable and the acceptable, that we have to accept and confess, and we have been put under their discipline. This means that we will confess articles we do not yet know the function of, perhaps because only persecution would reveal the function of. Nonetheless, our faith and obedience drive us to comprehend and to make use of all the conceptual instruments contained in this faith. Christian doctrine is a box of tools. Every piece of useful instruction received is also a weight of responsibility. All instruction adds to the tools in the bag you carry. If you use those tools, they seem light. If you never take them out and put them to use, they will seem heavy. If you learn compassionate discernment you will take out the right tool, use it for its purpose, and so will serve the whole people of God. The spiritual life includes and creates intellectual re-thinking. This faith compels its own explication – fides quaerens intellectum. Christian intellectual work is the exercise of compassion, for it shows the world that their specters are illusions and their fears are unreal. It rouses people from torpor and resignation.
‘The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedience to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10.5).
The Church offers its account of human identity and the confidence which result from that high view renews civil society as a whole. The distinction between the Church and the world is fundamental, yet it is a permanent source of aggravation. The Church says that man is called by God and utterly restless until he heeds that call. He tries to distract himself from this restlessness by pursuing other goals, and yet no other goal provides the satisfaction and release that man seeks, and this turns him to a rage that turns against the Church. As long as man is still restless it is because he is on way to his redemption, regardless of whether he is at any moment moving backwards or forwards. He cannot silence the call he hears.
1. Persons judge, and they are judged, by one another. We appeal for one another’s judgment and we receive it. 2. Judgment must take place through the person-to-person confrontation through reasoning and argument about our various ways of life. This exchange of contrary views creates the secular public square. 3. The public square is sustained through the effort of its members; when they do not practise judgment in public speech, the public square disappears and we cease to be moral agents. 4. The Christian community hears the gospel and is judged, tested, made holy and vindicated by the gospel. The Christian community passes the gospel on to the world.
5. The Christian community submits itself to the bible. But it also sets out the contrast between its own Scriptures and all the other writings that set out all the other, pagan, account of the world. Other accounts of the many forms of pagan life and not conveniently brought together between covers as one identifiable set of writings. But it is the Christian task to make explicit what the pagan ‘scripture’, law, imperative and obligation is. 6. There are two sets of teachers and leaders. There are Christian apostles. And there are pagan teachers, our secular rulers, political philosophers, and other members of the university and public intellectuals. We have to undergo as complete an apprenticeship as we can manage at the hands of all of them. 7. As long as God is in the chair, the universal assembly of mankind is orderly and each member of it is able to speak and be heard by all. Since he prevents anyone from silencing anyone else, God is the guarantor of the personhood of all.
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