Christ is our pioneer. He has ascended to where we cannot go, to the right hand of the Father. His Spirit holds together the whole long train of the people of the Son. The whole procession, and all the people in it, us included, are made impregnable by his protection. He is making himself visible to the world – and in the first instance we are the means he employs to do so. The Son is making himself visible, but very gently, so that this time no one gets hurt, but so that everyone is drawn into the very slow procession at one end of which Jesus is ready to receive us. Christ is our pioneer. He has ascended to where we cannot go, to the right hand of the Father. He has gained entrance to the palace of the king, and has now made us part of the people of that king. They, or rather, we, stand in a line that stretches back through the door of the palace, outside across the courtyard and out into the world. This procession stretches all the way from there to here, where we are. We are part of the procession that stretches from the Son that loops around, and connects up, all the world. Our leader is at one end, we at the other. We do not see him, but for him this procession is united to him, part of him. His Spirit holds together the whole long train of the people of the Son. The whole procession, and all the people in it, us included, are made impregnable by his protection.
From today we are under the Son direct. We have his whole and undivided attention. All the powers we identified individually with his men in the Old Testament, are available to us. The Spirit is the combined forces of all these witnesses who now together make one single witness, and one invincible force. The Spirit is the Son and his army, united in one person. That army serves and distinguishes the Son, and has raised the Son from us. Now this force has been sent to us. The Spirit, with all this mighty army, has become our servant. The Spirit has raised a people for the king, and a king for a people. The Spirit is God, at work, securing, and serving, his people. We celebrate him today, at Pentecost. Continue reading “Pentecost”
The king comes back at the end of the year to see how his managers have fared with the estate he gave them. The well-being of the whole people is the criterion by which they will be judged. If the people is covered in sores and blemishes, the managers will be removed from their post and the post will be given to someone else. On the morning of that annual general meeting, the bailiffs will knock the door down and throw them out to those they defrauded
Continue reading “The plot of Scripture according to Mark”
1) God has come to man. But the world had been divided by rival lords.Each is at war with every other, the unprotected are taken captive, and the war of all
is directed also against God.
2) God set himself against them to wrest back those oppressed by them. God has defeated these masters and is recovering from them and
reintegrating all parts of the world they divided.
3) He has seized us from all corners of the world, and brought us together as his assembly, a distinct new people, the start of the regeneration of the old creation, and first batch of the new.
4) The old masters have been defeated and their peoples taken from them. The forcing of this admission from them is part of this defeat. We were the old masters, and we were also their victims.
5) On the cross the Son sketches two parties and two outcomes. He represents us – to us, first dramaturgically, then constitutively. His display dissuades us from continuing towards one and turns towards the other outcome.
6) Instead of annihilating the irresponsible masters the Son displays their annihilation himself. He plays out the defeat and exposure of the rebel leaders on the cross.
7) The Son parodies our action and demonstrates its failure, and points to his own perfecting human performance as the escape route out of our failing human performance. He stampedes us away from the danger he points to and through the gate he opens to us – into the train of his captives.
8) We desert our old masters and surrender to him. He keeps the pressure on until the surrender is universal and the rebellion over.
9) The Son closes down our local headquarters, disconnects the autonomous mind, so we no longer receive our orders from it but, by the Spirit, through the body of Christ, direct from him.
10) God refused from us what did not belong to him, and turned our unfinished acts into finished ones, bad reciprocity into good reciprocity.
11) The Son provides the missing reciprocity and action. He set himself to the labour of extricating people from the consequences of their actions. He supplied endings to these actions that no one else could.
12) The Holy Spirit makes us a spiritual body that cannot be penetrated or split up by any external forces.
13) The Son is raised by the whole company of heaven. He is the glory of Israel, who made him and handed him on to us. He opens the community of Israel, to let us in.
14) Flooded by the Holy Spirit the world has become a unified life-supporting ecosystem through which the Spirit diffuses directly into each body, re-engineering our metabolism to take ever increasing dosages of reality and freedom from him.
1) The liturgy is the speech of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The work of the Son and the Spirit is to bring us into being within this liturgy.
2) The speech of God creates speakers, who can ask God and respond to God with thanks.
3) The Holy Spirit asks the Father for us and the Father approves his request: their act of asking and granting is all the being we have. They bring us into being and make us social and vocal.
4) The people of this world give away what they have been given, refuse to pass it on as from God. They give themselves away, dedicate themselves to local powers, and defer to and promote the part over the whole.
5) They thereby create gods, and make gods of themselves. Gods are accumulations of wrongly-attributed respect, obstructions in the traffic of life and praise.
6) We can identify three levels of idolatry: detachment as such (Cause, Nature, Protology), the autonomous demonic detached observer (a personified figure), and the surface of merely apparent diversity (that we could call ‘modernity’); that is, the fundamental forces, the idol of the Individual, and the (illusorily diverse) world of that idol.
7) Every god is an anthropology that starts to bring into being the man it describes, and makes it impossible for such a man finally to come into being.
8) The effect of many gods is to create the One, in the figure of (1) the autonomous individual or detached observer, and in the figure of (2) the state. The effect of the One (individual) is to create the many forces (passions, diversity, choice), and the effect of the state is to create the detached observer. The detached observer is a personification and microcosm of the state.
9) The divine liturgy names the powers. It takes recognition away from the other gods and returns it to God, who returns it to us again in good order.
10) The liturgy interrupts us, dethrones us and drives the words of the rival masters out of us. It locks and unlocks creation to us. The divine liturgy unseats us as that detached observer who creates his own object and cannot receive any object (from God).
11) The liturgy of the Son animates us, takes away our paralysis, gives us sensation, teaches us to move and serve, ask and give thanks.
12) The liturgy opens and maintains the language within which you reach me and I am able to respond to you. It gives me the words by which I can raise you to God and see you as other than me.
13) For our sake the liturgy produces simpler versions of itself, that protect us from its full impact, while readying us to receive more. Most of the liturgy goes over our heads.
14) The liturgy is the fullness of time that holds itself back, and presents itself to us in serial form in order to ready us for increasingly thick and strong doses of time.
15) The saints are integrated into the work of re-membering and integrating of many disconnected times into the one time of the company of heaven. They are to be the voices of those without voice, and of keeping open the world’s crisis of identity.
16) Theology serves the liturgy, keeping Scripture, Church and world in conversation and confrontation.
The Son makes the good confession of the Father in the face of all rival masters. Other masters are
also allowed a limited responsibility; when they attempt to set up rival
jurisdictions, they are brought down. The Son speaks for those who cannot speak
for themselves. He makes us vocal. He puts his words into our mouths,
until we sustain one another with his words.
1) The liturgy is the speaking of God. God is speaking every word uttered in the service. The Son gives praise
to the Father; the Spirit serves this act of the Son.
2) The Holy Spirit makes a company of heaven. The Father sends them to accompany the Son, and the Son
returns with them to the Father.
3) The Father and the Son speak humanity; humanity is brought into being by their speaking; it is one mode in
which they speak divinity to each other.
4) We live on the words, speech and breath of the Son: his breath animates us and gives us what being we have.
5) We are given being, and become real, as we are brought together and ordered around the Son as his
6) The Son calls together and perfects all the scattered elements of the cosmos. The Church is the visible phenomenon of the actual unity of the whole well-ordered creation, already present in Christ.
7) Jesus Christ is embodied to us by the Spirit. The Spirit always dresses, escorts and presents the Son to us in one person and through that one, in many.
8) The Son makes the good confession of the Father in the face of all rival masters. Other masters are also allowed a limited responsibility; when they attempt to set up rival jurisdictions, they are brought down.
9) The Son speaks us, and keeps us present, to the Father. The Son speaks for those who cannot speak for
10) He makes us vocal. He puts his words into our mouths, until we are in ourselves faithful amplifications of
his words, and sustain one another with them.
11) The whole company of heaven fortifies and encourages those presently confronting the disobedient powers. It does this visibly in the person of the saints, who encourage rulers to protect and promote their people and not to ignore their requests, and warn them not to
exceed the power given to them.
12) The Spirit is commissioned by the Son to give us a work. We are co-assigned to the work of presenting people and keeping them present in this company.
13) The Spirit raises the cosmos and assembly around the Son. The Spirit animates every member and part with the speech of God so it is articulate with thankfulness.
14) The Spirit shares out to us the qualities and labours of the Son. The Spirit prompts Christ to give glory to, and differentiate himself from, the Father. The Spirit differentiates Christ from us, and us from one another. The Son tenders to us the otherness he receives from the Spirit and returns to the Father.
15) This assembly and cosmos is not merely an entity, but a living and holy being, a life in common. It will be a single shared effort in the crediting and acknowledging of the otherness (holiness) of every member. In this living exchange every member gives glory to every other, so differentiating and distinguishing everyone from himself, and fully attributing to each the holy otherness that he receives from God.
Why when Christians each have a copy of the Scriptures, do they need each other? Why are they still members of the Church? It is not only Scripture, but also the Church, that is God’s witness to us. Scripture serves the Church, understood as God’s own work of self-witness. Only in the Church are we exposed to that discipline and work of sanctification by which we are transformed into those who can read Scripture. Even those recent discussions of biblical hermeneutics that set out to be theological cannot make the bible anymore than a book until they are ready to talk about sanctification and the Church. Continue reading “One testament many witnesses”
The Church is the exercise of the generosity of God: it feeds people the whole message of God, intercedes for them, puts the words of
God into their mouth and teach them to intercede for themselves. The powerful consume the poor. The Church has to gather, feed and protect the poor, and to pass on to the powerful the news that they are accumulating a cup of wrath.
1. The Church is the exercise of the generosity of God: it feeds people the whole message of God, intercedes for them, puts the words of God into their mouth and teach them to intercede for themselves.
2. The powerful consume the poor. The Church has to gather, feed and protect the poor, and to pass on to the powerful the news that they are accumulating a cup of wrath.
3. The (pagan) world eats indiscriminately from every table, enjoys the hospitality of the powers, shares the cup of idols. We are fed impoverishing self-images and we feed them to others.
4. The (pagan) world is presented with a faultless exemplar (offering), the illustration of what we are to be, and indicates that we are acceptable to the degree that we conform to and participate in this figure of perfection.
5. This display of this flawless good life creates a dependence in us. As we internalise the figures set before us, we are consumed by those who set them up before us.
6. The modern Church does not feed the poor, or give them the name of the Lord who feeds and protects. It fails to reject any (pagan) teaching as inedible and has made itself ill. It has not waited and fasted for the poor; it has feasted too early.
7. The modern Church does not confess the mind of Christ, its mind is no longer clear, it does not know what is happening to it; it cannot tell itself apart from the world, so has nothing to tell the world.
8. We have eaten and internalised food unpaid for, made by workers unnamed and unacknowledged. Modernity is ill as a result of the cup that it first doled out and which it is now drinking must down itself.
9. God has seized us and will not let go of us: he has made us drink down what we have poured out to others.
10. The cup is the bitterness of our own defeat by God. For the Church it is the functioning immune system which identifies invaders and fights them off.
11. We are the sacrifice and harvest of Christ. He makes us holy and then presents us to the Father for his approval. We will be that loaf that presently Christ is alone.
12. The Spirit delivers and installs in us the faculties and abilities of the Son. He supplies reality to us in doses, so we receive in instalments the world within which, in the Son, we can develop the character and practice the action of the Son.
13. The food God feeds us causes us to call on him to feed us more: it gives us an appetite, and takes away our appetite for any other bread
14. It is for the Church to say what the actual ontology of the world is. It may say that the world is a matter of taking and being taken, that human beings use one another up.
15. The Church confesses the people of this people consume one another and are consumed, and that the world is made up of bundles of (pagan) sacraments. The conceptuality of sacrament is a sophisticated anthropology, ontology and epistemology.
16. Jesus is for us by his fourfold action of taking, giving thanks, breaking and passing on. He draws us into this action, so what is his is ours.
17. Discussion of the eucharist in terms of the presence or location of Jesus misses the point. It is our presence, not that of Jesus, that is in question. We are being brought into being by this feeding.
The consequences of this thesis for system theology deserves special emphasis. In the first instance it is no longer possible to treat eschatology as the last chapter of dogmatics, as it has been the case at least since the Middle Ages in all dogmatic manuals. Eschatology does not refer to the ‘last things’ or the ‘last days’ as the culminating point in the history of salvation. It is rather a dimension running through the entire doctrine, at least in what concerns the oikonomia. Even the doctrine of creation must be placed in the light of eschatology if it is to acquire its full meaning, let alone Christology, soteriology and the doctrine of the Church. Without reference to the eschaton, the entire oikonomia loses its meaning. The last things colour and decide the entire Heilsgeschichte.
Secondly, the doctrine of the ‘last things’ is affected seriously by this thesis. Traditionally, this doctrine concerned matters after death, such as the fate of the body and soul after the grave, the last judgment etc. If this thesis is accepted, eschatology should be understood as affecting also the present life before death, indeed the entire history itself. The misunderstanding of eschatology as a dimension of history, as a key and a method in dealing with history, opens up the frontiers of history and, instead of creating a dilemma, ‘history or eschatology’ it turns existence into an ‘event’, its brings together event and being, the world as it is and the world as it will be. Thus, whereas the classical eschatology affected the present only psychologically (the hope for a new world, the expectation of a future, etc) it is now understood as affecting it also ontologically, ie as determining our very concept of being.
Continue reading “Towards an Eschatological Ontology”
The Christian Faith is the most exhilarating thing in the intellectual marketplace. Christianity is not well known. It is a
secret. The world has no idea what Christianity is. The place of the Church is always to be concerned first about its own obedience to God and to the discipline that keeps it refreshed by that word and thankful for it. It must continue to take the whole faith God gives it, and thus be made able to pass that faith on.
Continue reading “The Christian faith”