Just as crucial as the concept of substance to our account of the eucharist is the concept of persons. With this concept we can understand that we are both distinct and particular persons, and that that we are in communion with one another and not threatened by it. The theology of the ‘Whole Christ’ is a theology of persons in communion and thus a theology of the Church, this specific communion of sanctified persons. With his account of the ‘Whole Christ’, Augustine is the great exponent of this theology of persons in communion with God. What does Augustine mean by the ‘Whole Christ’?
3 Wednesday After receiving the bread…
Isaiah 50, Psalm 70, Hebrews 12, John 13.21-32
We have been following the readings for each of the days of Holy Week. We said that every day of Holy Week is a revealing of the risen Son of God. The passion is the unfurling of the resurrection, and the resurrection is our glimpse of the ascent of man to God. On Monday we said that all creation is filled with glory of God. This glory does not impose itself on us, but one sign of it is the presence of the Christian people. They are here to pray for the world and to speak back on its behalf to God; together they make up the Church, the house that is filled with the glory of God.
Yesterday we said that the Son of God has entered the creation. He has handed himself over to us. He has been dropped into the earth like a single seed, and we are there soil he has been dropped into. What will we make of him? Will this seed survive our handling, will it germinate and produce a crop and a harvest?
Today, we hear again from the Gospel of John, and from Isaiah and the Book of Hebrews. We will learn that what we have received we also pass on, so we must investigate some of the giving and taking and passing on of which the gospel consists. Christ has given himself, and he has taken us. Now we are able to give ourselves away, and take one another. We can now do this because we are given by God to one another, and given through time into one another’s hands.
In this paper I will argue that the Christian faith creates and sustains the public sphere. Christianity creates a distinction between faith and the public sphere, religion and politics, church and world, and it does so because the gospel serves the world, and indeed creates the world it serves. When this distinction is extracted from the Christian faith and allowed to become a separation the good functioning of society is threatened. It is the Church that makes the public square public, the secular sphere secular.
This book invites you to hear what Christian theology has to say to the contemporary world. Christian theology is the creature of the Church, and the Church is the creature of God. When the Church lives out of the tradition it has received, and passes on the good things of that tradition, it has something to say about the world. It speaks theologically when it offers coherent and public talk about God and man. The Church has a more generous definition of the world than our contemporary world has of itself. Theology has a more sophisticated idea of time than does the surrounding world. It talks about time in order to say that the world is not yet settled, and will not be settled until it is established in relationship with God. We raise the subject of time to draw our attention to the way things come and go, and to remind us to be realistic in estimating what we know about them. Eschatology is the Church’s term for this form of self-control.