Holy Communion: Remembering that Human Life is in Christ’s Blood

The late, John Webster, wasn’t just a Christian theologian par excellence; he was also a pastor. The following comes from part of a sermon he gave on Maundy Thursday. A major thrust of his sermon was to remind the parishioners that Holy Communion is not something that re-enacts or re-presents the death of Jesus Christ; indeed, as Webster presses, the Eucharist is a memorial event wherein we, as the Church, remember the already finished work (in the perfect tense: my insight) that Jesus alone accomplished once and for all in the givenness of His life for the world. As Webster presses this point, and rightfully so, he offers a beautiful description of what, in the history has been called: the mirifica commutatio (‘wonderful exchange’). Here Webster is underscoring the idea that what God in Christ has done, has been done; indeed, what has been done God alone could accomplish on our behalf. I found Webster’s rendition of the ‘wonderful exchange’ edifying, and so I want to share it with you now. 

What was done there and then? What is it about the Lord’s death that the Eucharist proclaims or testifies? Isaiah, whose Servant Song provides the bass line of our thoughts this Holy Week, tells us that the wounding and bruising and chastising of the Servant is “for our transgressions” (53:5). The cross of Jesus, celebrated in Holy Communion, is the climactic event in which God acts to win the world back from the darkness and misery of sin. In some way, the death of this one changes the entire course of human history; it intercepts and breaks the whole course of human wickedness; henceforth, because of what this man does and suffers, nothing can be the same. Why not? Because in this little scrap of an event one Friday afternoon, this unremarkable bit of human evil, God takes our place. He enters without reserve into the reality of our situation—into our situation, that is, as those who have damned ourselves, who have cut ourselves off from life and put ourselves into hell, all because we made up the lie that we can be human without God. 

But God does not leave us in the hell we have made for ourselves. In the person of Jesus his Son and Servant, he comes to us; he takes on his own back the full weight of our alienation and estrangement; he freely submits to the whole curse of our sin. He takes our sin upon him, and in so doing he takes it away, fully, finally, and conclusively. And of all that—of that miracle of grace on Good Friday—this evening is a memorial, the memorial of that his precious death. 

That was what was done. It was done not by us, but by God himself in the person of his Servant and Son. And it was done by God alone. Because reconciliation is thus God’s work, God’s exclusive work, then this sacrament in which we remember the cross of Christ is also God’s work. Here, in this assembly at this table, God is at work. And God’s work here is to present to us, to make present to us, what took place on Good Friday. We don’t make Good Friday real by re-enacting it, or by thinking and feeling about it. God in this sacrament declares to us what Good Friday made true: that he is our reconciler; that sin is finished business; that we can repent because God has forgiven; that the promise acted out in the death of Jesus stands for all time and for each human person. In this memorial, God turns us backward; but he also makes present to us the limitless power of what the Son of God suffered. The God who was at work there and then is at work here and now, proclaiming to us his promise of cleansing, acceptance and peace.1 

The Apostle Paul describes the ‘wonderful exchange’ this way: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (II Cor. 8.9). Webster brings out so many rich insights in his telling of what in fact unfolded in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The following clause, in particular stands out to me: “as those who have damned ourselves, who have cut ourselves off from life and put ourselves into hell, all because we made up the lie that we can be human without God.” This is the depth dimension of the Evangel. What it genuinely means to be human is to be human before (in and from) God. To declare that ‘we’ can be human devoid of God, devoid of a coram Deo life, is indeed: Hell!  

Holy Communion is to remind us, moment by moment, that we are not our own; and that if we persist, indeed, perdure in the lie that we can be our “own man or woman,” that we will only dissolve into an abyss of hell. But Christ has entered into that deep abyss, and by the life which is in His blood, we can truly experience what it means to be human before God; indeed, to be human is to be in union and fellowship with God. This is who Jesus is for us, and what the Eucharist is to continuously remind us of until it is finally consummated in the eschaton as that finally comes in the Eschatos of God’s life for us in Jesus Christ. Maranatha  

1 John Webster, Confronted by Grace: Meditations of a Theologian (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), 61-2, Kindle Edition.

Eschatology and Political Action for the Christian: With Reference to Bonhoeffer

Eschatology frames the Christian life, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: ‘The Church of Christ witnesses to the end of all things. It lives from the end, it thinks from the end, it acts from the end, it proclaims its message from the end’ (DBWE 3: 21). This has significant implications for the Christian’s engagement with the broader culture; in this instance I want to emphasize how this ought to impact the Christian’s relationship to the politik, insofar that the Christian bears witness to the political in their theological existence as Christians in, but not of this world system. Mark Lindsay offers a nice entrée into Bonhoeffer’s thinking on eschatology, particularly as that is in contact with the Nazi context, he and so many other Germans et al. were thrust into under the mantle of Hitler’s Antichrist reign. Lindsay writes:

The lectures he delivered against this background—lectures that would form the basis of his most famous book, Discipleship—explore precisely this participatory engagement with Christ in the world. Crucially, there is an inescapable eschatological dimension to the life of engaged discipleship. Towards the end of the book, and with Nazism firmly in his sights, Bonhoeffer speaks of the threat that the world poses to the Church. Having already argued for a rightful ‘living-space’ (Lebensraum) (DBWE 4: 232-4, 236) of the Church in the world, Bonhoeffer goes on to say that

the older this world grows, and the more sharply the struggle (der Kampf) between Christ and Antichrist grows, the more thorough also the world’s efforts to rid itself of the Christians. To the first Christians the world still granted a space . . . A world that has become entirely anti-Christian, however, can no longer grant Christians even this private sphere . . . Christians [are now forced] to deny their Lord in exchange for every piece of bread they want to eat. In the end, Christians are left with no other choices but to escape from the world or go to prison (DBWE 4: 247).

This, he says, is a world in which the end (das Ende) is near (DBWE 4: 247).[1]

The concern I have is that many Christians are not able to discern who the Antichrist is today, and who isn’t. That the Babylonian Captivity of the Church in the culture has become an instance of Stockholm syndrome, such that the churches in the broader world have come to love their captors rather than be captivated by the Eschatos of all things, Jesus Christ. One concrete instance we are seeing of this in the West, currently, is the state of Canada. This state, in the name of safety and welfare for the ‘greater good’ (look into the history and see where that rhetoric has been deployed before) has now begun building walls around churches; whether that be with physical fencing, or hundreds of police, or health and welfare troopers deployed by the state. In other places in Canada, the Montreal Police Department, in their enforcement of COVID lockdowns, are literally calling certain media, media attempting to record the state’s activities, ‘Jew media.’ These are all modern-day instances of Antichrist behavior of the sort that has the potential to blossom into things Bonhoeffer himself experienced as he thought out his eschatology vis-à-vis the Church’s existence in the world.


[1] Mark Lindsay, “Eschatology,” in Michael Mawson and Philip G. Ziegler eds., The Oxford Handbook of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 261.

Eschatomania: How Radical Futurism Has Negatively Impacted Church and Culture

I grew up as a dispensationalist[1], as many of you know; we won’t rehash that. But I wanted to write something, quick, on the role that I see dispensationalism playing in America, in particular, and in the Western world more generally. Dispensationalism is known for a radical notion of futurism; radical because it ties its futurism into various signs that dispensationalists believe portend of the very end. More generally I still maintain that there will indeed be various signs that the world is close to the return of Jesus Christ, but I differ from the dispensationalist in the sense that I don’t see these signs as, as clairvoyant as they seem to think. In other words, I don’t think the ‘end of the end’ can be linearly charted in the way that dispensationalists famously are known for. While I reject the other alternative to dispensational futurism, which ostensibly sees history as almost purely cyclical, I do think that awash in the unfolding of eschatological history, that we can start discerning patterns of intensity vis-à-vis some of the features that Jesus taught would be present just prior to His coming.

What I want to focus on though is the cultural impact dispensationalist futurism has had upon the American world at large. As a society there is a chialistic (millenarian) expectation that the world is winding down; ultimately this typically eventuates in some sort of dystopian version of the world—like what we see depicted in Hunger Games. I would contend that dispensational futurism has helped contribute to this sort of expectation for the world; i.e. that we are on a linear slide into some sort of oblivion. Books like Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth (1970), or Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’ runaway success Left Behind series (1990s) have helped perpetuate a Christian version of dystopia that the broader culture has picked up on and imported into their own end-time understandings of the world. As George Marsden in his book Fundamentalism and American Culture and Ernest Sandeen in his book The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism, 1800—1930 have helpfully identified is that dispensationalism, in particular, and millenarianism, in general, have rootage back into the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both in America and the United Kingdom. There was time for what we see woven into the fabric of the American psyche, both Christian and non-Christian alike to flourish and come of age (or even seed).

My concern isn’t that Christians are too overly eager for the second coming of Jesus Christ; in my view, you can never be too over eager for that. My concern is that radical futurism ends up reducing to a sensationalism that ends up causing the person to be looking for the signs of the times in their newspapers, and now on social media, more than they are induced to inhabiting Holy Scripture and living soberly and righteously as we see the day approaching. Don’t get me wrong, I do think it is important to be excited about the coming of Christ; I also think that there are certain ‘signs’ that ought to indicate to people that the return of the Lord might well be upon us (the Apostles in the New Testament lived with this expectation even in their period, which is to my point). What I am warning against, though, is when people start to engage in what is called pesher (which is what the eschatological cult, the Essenes, of Dead Sea Scrolls fame, engaged in as their interpretive method for discerning the times of their day). Pesher simply means ‘this-is-that,’ and it is an attempt to correlate some current event with a biblical prophecy. I would suggest that dispensationalists, and other like-chialistic sects are the contemporary versions of the Essenes; insofar as they engage in pesher. I think doing pesher-type exegesis of the biblical text lends itself to the sort of radical futurism I have been referring to throughout this post. It causes the person to take their eye off the ball that the living Christ would have us focused on. Yes, He wants us to be looking for His coming, but this means living holy and sober lives.

One side-effect of living with a radical-futurist position, in the sense I’ve been describing, is that it makes people prone to get caught up in sensationalistic movements of thought in general. One clear and present example of this could be the so-called Q phenomenon, or its counterpart, the Antifa/BLM phenomenon. Both movements of thought are premised on a linear conception of the world-system; both maintain that some level of activism is required in order to cause apocalyptic events to obtain in order for their version of the ‘time-of-the-end’ to come to pass. These groups have their prophets calling them to action, pointing them to their messengers, and asking them to inhabit a projection of a world-picture set out by a sensationalist expectation of apocalyptic doom. Both believe that some level of human violence is required in order to ingress their world-picture; whether that be street-thugs, or the US Military. I would argue that these two groups (I place Antifa/BLM together), and any other groups that might fall into this continuum, are a product of the sort of radical millenarian futurism projected by dispensationalism, or even Marxism, respectively. Radical futurism is typically abstracted from a sober notion of futurism that orthodox Christianity has maintained since the beginning. Orthodox Christianity has maintained, simply, that Christ will come again and establish a New Heavens and Earth. But orthodox Christianity does not collapse this happening into ‘our’ capacity to discern various signs, in a chart-like fashion, as its mode of actualization. In other words, orthodox Christianity simply believes that the world will be in utter chaos, and in intensifying ways, right up until Jesus comes again (e.g. think the birth pangs analogy).[2]

I would simply exhort my Christian brethren and sistren to abandon radical futurism, and take this sort of dystopian apocalypticism away from the broader culture. I am not saying we shouldn’t be aware of what is going on in the world, in current events. I’m also not saying that Christians shouldn’t be discerning about the time of the end of the end; indeed, I think of all people, as people of the light (cf. I Thess 5) we ought to be able to have a real sense of the times we inhabit. But I think until after the fact (just as at the first coming of Christ) being able to see, in an absolute way, that this-is-that (pesher) is not really possible; and it isn’t an advisable mode of being for the Christian person. But full disclosure: I still struggle with this temptation.


[1] Which I repudiated about 12 years ago (at that point I was a Progressive Dispensationalist).

[2] Unless of course if your postmillennial. But I outright reject postmil as a viable interpretive option of the biblical text. I believe the only viable options, from a biblical eschatological perspective are: Historic or Covenantal Premillennialism, or Amillennialism; I am the latter these days.

Inhabitatio Dei: Living in God’s Triune Life Now and Forever as Co-heirs

Scottish theologian, Hugh Binning, writes the following in regard to God as love:

Our salvation is not the business of Christ alone but the whole Godhead is interested in it deeply, so deeply, that you cannot say, who loves it most, or likes it most. The Father is the very fountain of it, his love is the spring of all—“God so loved the world that he hath sent his Son.” Christ hath not purchased that eternal love to us, but it is rather the gift of eternal love . . . Whoever thou be that wouldst flee to God for mercy, do it in confidence. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are ready to welcome thee, all of one mind to shut out none, to cast out none. But to speak properly, it is but one love, one will, one council, and purpose in the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, for these Three are One, and not only agree in One, they are One, and what one loves and purposes, all love and purpose.[1]

God is three-in-one (de Deo trino / de Deo uno), as such God is love. There is no competition in the Monarxia of God for God’s threeness is His oneness and His oneness is His threeness. What One does Three do, and what Three do One does. This is not to say that they, as hypostaseis do not have distinct modes of being in their operations; but it is to say that their operations are indivisible, even as they carry them out in the mode of being distinct to them as a person in the Divine Monarxia.

What astounds me about this deep and mysterious reality (mysterium Trinitatis) at the moment is that my Dad, Ron Grow, inhabits this reality in a beatific and actualized way. He went from living in utter brokenness and sickness to inhabitatio Dei in the twinkling of an eye. He knows no more sickness, loneliness, or despair; He only knows the majesty of this triadic reality of Divine bliss and interpenetrative love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He went from his hospice bed in Menifee, California to the everlasting Kingdom where the intensity of God’s shekinah glory expresses in all its plenitudinous Oneness in Threeness. My Dad left this world in poverty, and entered the riches of the heavenly Kingdom in an instant. He entered into the joy of His Lord; a joy that is Love indeed, in all purity and serenity. God the Father welcomed my Dad into His life; just as He did on the day my Dad repented and gave His life to Christ in Lake Elsinore, CA back in the late 60s, in the fullness of His Grace as given revelation in the Son, Jesus Christ. My Dad now dwells in the heavenlies at the Right Hand of the Father in Christ by the bond of the Holy Spirit. He no longer wonders what love is, He knows it in its fullness unabated as He feels the nail pierced hands of the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world, as he touches the sword plunged side of the Lion of the tribe of Judah. This is the reality my Dad inhabits now; the glory that the Son has shared with the Father in the koinonia of the Holy Spirit from time-in-eternity.

What a genuine and steady hope we have in Christ. My Dad experiences this hope in the pleroma of God now; we can experience this same fullness in Christ now, even by the faith of Christ. We are participatio Christi, participants with Christ, in and through the adoption of Grace; we share in the same indestructible Life that He has always already freely had for us as the resurrection power of God that He is. Even when we are weak He is strong. Even when our faith fails us, His faith is for us. Even when we are too feeble to repent, He repents for us. This is the triune God we serve; this is the triune God my Dad inhabits in unimaginable ways. Maranatha       


[1] Binning, The Works of Hugh Binning (1735 edn.), as cited in Torrance, Scottish Theology, 78–79.

Let ‘Disability Theology’ Be Anathema

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” –Revelation 21

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, forthe Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. –Revelation 22

20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. –Philippians 3

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. –I John 3

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. –Revelation 1

I don’t know if you have ever heard of what Amos Yong calls ‘disability theology,’ but it is Antichrist through and through. I shared the above passages of Scripture because even at a prima facie level they contradict and refute the very notion of disability theology. Others have come along and articulated, in the affirmative, Yong’s theology as well. You might be wondering what it entails? Here is another theologian, someone I was just reading for other reasons, who affirms this rubbish theology; John Bowlin writes:

At this point, let me offer three qualifications that indicate where my Thomistic sketch departs from Thomas’s views. First, Thomas assumes that the bodies of the blessed will be healed in every respect. He considers every disability a deficit that will be overcome. I do not. On my account, citizenship in God’s heavenly commonwealth requires a remedy for only the severest cognitive deficits. The blessed must be able to know and love God. Whether they will also have bodies healed and restored in every respect–abou this I have doubts. At the very least, I want to acknowledge what Elizabeth Barnes and others have taught us about other, less severe disabilities. There are many kinds of human bodies. Some of these ways and bodies are considered lamentably disabled when in fact they exhibit human differences that require neither lament nor healing. In many cases, what they require is the recognition that a so-called impediment may in fact provide for a unique way of being human and loving God.[1]

If Bowlin, Yong et al. were attempting to present this position to Jesus I am positive his first words to them would be: “get behind me satan!” Too often theologians get so deep into their own witty imaginations that they believe their ‘theological’ interpretation of Scripture fills in the gaps, in keeping with Scripture, that the logic of God’s grace simply will not allow for.

Disabilities, by definition, miss the mark of what a healthy physical and mental body ought to have. In other words, there is a privation of particular genes or DNA markers that lead to incapacities that were not supposed to be; save the fall. Clearly, Bowlin et al. are attempting to ascribe a mode of dignity to all of humanity by elevating disabilities. But this is not the way God does that. God takes the very source that has caused whatever the malady might be—physical, mental, or emotional—and puts it to death in the broken body of Jesus Christ. Also, in Jesus Christ, He raises all of humanity anew unto the exact same glorified body that Jesus rose and ascended with. This is not to say that while we inhabit disabled and diseased bodies now that they are not valuable. On the contrary, it is through these bodies of death that God in Christ builds the character and fruit of the Spirit that will be everlasting. That will be carried into our glorified bodies, the types of bodies that find their absolute correspondence with Jesus’s resurrected body.

These theologians ought to repent. They have gone beyond Scripture in the name of Scripture, and have presented a notion of salvation that is less than what God has presented the world with in the resurrected humanity of Jesus Christ. Jesus’s body went from broken, bruised, and battered to glorified, indestructible, and of the sort that can stand in the burning presence of the living and triune God and not be destroyed. These theologians offer an impish understanding of bodily salvation that has capitulated to cultural questions and concerns rather than the ones that are revealed to us through Jesus Christ. They ought to repent.


[1] John R. Bowlin, “Dignity and Domination: A Thomistic Sketch,” in Dogma and Ecumenism: Vatican II and Karl Barth’s Ad Limina Apostolorum, edited by Matthew Levering, Bruce L. McCormack and Thomas Joseph White, OP (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2020), 223.

PS. The Lord has done a miracle. My dad is eating, gaining strength, has much of his mental capacity back, and just started walking again. Keep praying. We serve a living King who destroys what would seek to destroy us. I’ll do a longer update post soon. He still has the grotesque cancer on his head, but I’m praying for that too. Nothing is too difficult for the LORD; He is God and we are not.

Simul Justus et Peccator: ‘Simultaneously Justified and Sinner’

“He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves, . . .” –Colossians 1.13 (NET)

ὃς ἐρρύσατο ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ σκότους καὶ μετέστησεν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ, –Colossians 1.13 (GNT)

Simul justus et peccator–Martin Luther

As Christians in Christ we are simultaneously inhabitants of the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ, and at the same time we continue to dwell in a world full of the darkness we have been redeemed from; this world is yet present in our old hearts, and in the bodies of death we continuously inhabit. This seems paradoxical, dialectical even; it is. Sin no longer has its filthy grip on our lives / instead the righteousness of Christ does. In this we have the freedom of God to live in the holiness He has always already inhabited in the perichoresis of His Triune Life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; we have become ‘partakers of the divine nature’ by the adoption of God’s Grace; been made co-heirs with Jesus Christ as we are now in union with the life that He has always had by nature with the Father in the Holy bond of matrimony provided for by the Holy Spirit. As Christians we paradoxically live in-between two ages; even as we inhabit both of them, yet in asymmetrical ways. We are citizens of the heavenly Kingdom, seated in the heavenly places with Christ; yet we are still in this world, in these bodies. Helmut Thielicke explains these things in the language of  æon, which is the Latin transliteration of the classical and Koine Greek, αἰών; the word simply means: ‘age.’ He writes:

In the second form the question runs, “How do I move from faith to action?” That is, how do I make my Christianity concrete? What is life in the new aeon to be like? For to be baptized is, after all, to let oneself be called into God’s salvation history, and hence out of the old aeon. But to be called out in this way can mean only that we are delivered from the ruling powers of this aeon and set under the dominion of a new and different Lord. It means, for example, to acquire a new relation to the god Mammon, and to the powers of property and possession (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13; 12:16-20; Mark 10:21, 24 f.). It means also that I have to revise my relationship to my body (I Cor. 6:19) and its passions (Phil. 3:19; I Cor. 6:16), to the things of this world (I Cor. 7:29 ff.) and anxiety concerning them (Matt. 6:25 ff.), to the Thou of my neighbor and to the groups to which I belong. It implies, in fact, the total revision of my existence in all its dimensions, since Christ is ruler of the entire cosmos and not just Lord of my inwardness. The orientation of my existence—and this means concretely my life in the plenitude of its relationships—is completely transformed because I am now the member of another history and of another aeon.

On the other hand I am simultaneously—by virtue of a mysterious simul—a member of the old aeon. For Christ did not pray the Father that he should take his own out of the world, but that he should keep them alliance with wickedness (John 17:15). After all, they are no more “of the world” (in terms of origin and destiny) than is Christ who, even though he walks in it, still is not “of” the world (John 17:16).

Hence believers in Christ stand to the old aeon in a relationship of both continuity and discontinuity. The relationship is one of continuity insofar as they eat and drink, marry and are given in marriage, laugh and cry, stand under authorities and within orders, etc. It is one of discontinuity because they no longer receive their orientation from all of this. Their relation to that which is relative can no longer be something absolute (to put it in Kierkegaardain terms). They live “in the flesh” to be sure, but no longer “according to the flesh.” We shall see later to what degree Luther’s well-known phrase “at once righteous and sinful” [simul justus et peccator] reflects this relationship to the two aeons, especially when it is seen to involve an interrelating of res and spes, of present and future, of this aeon and the coming aeon: ‘sinful in fact, righteous in hope” [peccator in re, justus in spe].[1]

What a glorious, yet precarious status we inhabit. We are redeemed, and indwell, in and through the mediatorial humanity of Jesus Christ, the Holy of Holies of God’s inner and triune Life. Yet, we remain in the far country of this groaning world, and the bodies that inhabit it, until we fully realize the beatifico visio in the consummation of all things yet to come at the shout of the coming Son of Man.

I long to be saved from my ‘body of death.’

“Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”–Romans 7.24 (NET)

[1] Helmut Thielicke, Theological Ethics: Volume 1: Foundations, edited by William H. Lazarus (Philadelphia: Fortess Press, 1966), 40-1.

Luther as Hercules: American Evangelicals, Conspiracy Theories and End Times

I just watched a video produced by a former seminary prof of mine, who specializes in the theology of culture, Dr. Paul Metzger. The video features a discussion with Dr. Greg Camp and professor, Jon Morehead, and the topic is: American evangelicals, conspiracy theory and its connection to end times eschatological speculations and fervor (or fever). In all honesty, for any of us who have been more intimately associated with so-called conspiracy theorism, it wasn’t all that informative. Although it does get into the origins of the illuminati in the late 19th century, in America, and then how that has blossomed into 21st century iterations; that represented a helpful sketch of the historical sourcing that so-called conspiracy theorism is funded by. But then it tails off into a passive anti-Trump advertisement, as Trumpism is tied into Qanon and other so-called conspiracy theories afoot.

But I want to get beyond that, a bit. Some of my readers, I’m sure, are concerned with my apparent turn to the sort of conspiracy theorism I have been referring to above. I want to provide some perspective on that. The reality is that in the history there have been actual CONSPIRACIES that have engulfed humanity into the most destructive vicissitudes imaginable (the easiest and closest reference that comes to mind, of course, is Nazi Germany). I do grant, of course, that there are actual and real conspiracy theories, but those are often deployed as deflections which serve as subterfuge, in the sense that it makes it almost impossible to disentangle the theory from the actual conspiracy; especially when media, of any type, gets involved in the fomentation of these things.

But this is exactly what, I would contend, folks committed to anti-conspiracy theorism, in the name of sobriety and institutional identity, overlook too hastily. They fail to recognize that there are real, even satanic (because us Christians still believe that the devil and his minions are real and active in this present ‘evil age’) conspiracies that the ‘world system’ is embroiled in. And precisely because we are Christians, we ought to see these things framed within the apocalyptic framing that Scripture, and even more importantly, as Scripture attests to its reality, Jesus did. There are identifiable conspiracies, and conspirators active in the world today, and they are of their father the devil. Often folks like my former professor, and the guests he had on his production, want to keep things much too abstract (that’s I how read them). They prefer to operate with an abstract notion of evil that is operative in the world, thus it allows us to keep things more intellectually manageable in regard to how we approach these things (i.e. in dispassionate and ‘academic’ ways). In other words, there almost seems to be this sense that the mode I am referring to is okay with thinking of evil as a globular mass ‘out there,’ but when others attempt to make that too personal and particular, when we start giving names, and identifying movements, it is just at this moment that the descriptor “conspiracy theory” becomes the handy way out.

Ever since my first real introduction to Martin Luther in Reformation Theology class in seminary by my former prof (and I’ll still claim him as my current mentor), Ron Frost, I was hooked (maybe this is because of my Scandinavian heritage, I don’t know)! Luther, was a theologian who had grist in his theology, the sort that produced his famous theologia crucis (theology of the cross). Luther, the son of a miner, was a ‘man of the earth,’ we might think of someone like Esau, in terms of earthiness, or of St. Peter; at least these are the sorts of personages who come to mind when I think of Luther. Psychologically and spiritually, Luther had a deep sense of his utter need for God; which of course propelled him into his protesting work against the Papacy. Luther, as Heiko Oberman so eloquently describes him, was ‘a man between God and the devil,’ as such, Luther had a sense of God’s apocalyptic presence and even doom. He found relief, from the doom part of that, personally, through his solifidian (‘faith alone’) breakthrough. Once this relief came, he came to see the papacy, and the pope himself, as the literal and personal Antichrist (some Lutherans today, like the Wisconsin Synod, an offshoot of the Missouri Synod, still understand the office of the pope to be representative of the Antichrist). My point: if Luther was present today, if he operated with this same sort of zeal, and was willing to openly call out the pope as the Antichrist, he would be considered a conspiracy theorist himself. Notice the historical mode surrounding Luther, and how Luther saw himself vis-à-vis the pope during his time, as described by David Whitford:

In 1522, the dramatic woodcut, attributed to Hans Hoblein, depicting Martin Luther as the Hercules Germanicus firs appeared . . . . The woodcut was part of early pro-Luther propaganda. Dangling from Luther’s nose hangs the pope. Screaming in Luther’s mighty grasp is the inquisitor Jakob von Hochstraten. Lying at Luther’s feet are the decapitated Hydra of scholastic miscellany: Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Okham, Aristotle, Nicholas Lyra, and Peter Lombard. The Hydra, of course, was only one of the first tests Hercules would face. Other more terrible tests awaited him. Hercules final test was to face Cerberus, “a monster not to be overcome and that may not be described, [who] eats raw flesh, the brazen-voiced hound of Hades.” So too, Luther came to feel that he would have to vanquish not only the scholastic Hydra, but his own hound of Hades. In 1520, Luther came to believe that he involved in an apocalyptic struggle against the Antichrist himself: the pope.[1]

If the Christian, I contend, is living with a sense of God’s immediacy, particularly as that is ‘felt’ through the theology of the cross, they will live with the sort of abandon and apocalyptic energy that Luther (and the Apostle Paul) did. Even if we’re ‘planting trees’ in the process, we will not be afraid to live lives that are framed by the scandalous nature of particularity. This does not mean we must, at the same time, engage in the sort of sacrificium intellectus that real conspiracy theorists often do. But it does mean that there ought to be a willingness to attempt the discernment and disentanglement of things that ‘institutional discernment’ typically fails at. Luther, while initially, attempting to work within the institution, was so driven by the all compelling light of Christ that shown upon him in his Augustinian monkery, and freed him, that he finally was cast out of the institution because of his willingness to be the “Church’s” idiot.

I am willing to be considered the Church’s idiot, if it means an openness to view things that contravenes ‘conventional’ discernment tablets. In that process I will, to a degree, slide too far down one side of the pendulum, this way, or that way, but there must be, in my view, a willingness to think beyond the so-called sobriety of the “peers.” Luther was willing to call the pope the personal Antichrist. Today that would be akin to seeing Obama or Trump as the Messiah, literally. But it was Luther’s willingness to be considered a fool for the Gospel, and often that led him into being a fool simply for himself, that he was willing to take these theopolitical stands. I’ve been told by a few people I know, PhDs in theology, that I have ‘lost my mind’ because of the particular conspiracies that I think are real; but so be it. I stand coram Deo (before God), and so do you!

 

[1] David M. Whitford, “The Papal Antichrist: And the Underappreciated Influence of Lorenzo Valla,” Renaissance Quarterly, (Volume 61: Number 1), Spring 2008:26.

The Pretrib ‘Rapture’ People Set to be Some of the Most Confused Among Us

I come from a dispensational, pretribulational, premillennial background; as many evangelicals in North America do. Indeed, I was formally trained in this hermeneutic and theology at the Bible College I attended; which historically is known for it (it is known as mini-DTS). Even in Seminary, the same institution, I was influenced by this hermeneutic, but less. In this post I briefly want to touch on one aspect of this theology, or hermeneutic; in this post I want to sketch just one practical problem with the pretrib rapture view.

If you don’t know by now, pretrib rapture theology entails the idea that Jesus will ‘secretly’ come back for the church; taking the church to abide with Him in heaven while all hell breaks loose on earth during the 7 year Great Tribulation. Typically the chronology goes like this: 1) Jesus raptures the church; 2) the 7 year Great Tribulation (or ‘Jacob’s Trouble) kicks off at that point, or shortly thereafter; 3) Jesus comes again (His second coming) at the end of the Tribulation defeating the armies of the world (at Armageddon); 4) at this time the ‘Messianic Age’ or Millennium ensues where Jesus, the Son of David, rules and reigns with us, the church, over a regenerated earth (although not what we read of in Revelation 21—22) for a 1000 years; 5) at the very end of this period satan will be released from his holding tank to deceive the nations (the people who made it through the Tribulation and began to repopulate the earth during the 1000 years) for a final time; 6) Jesus puts this ruse to death, the Great White Throne Judgment obtains; 7) the New Heavens and Earth are created constituting the eternal state. The problem with this timeline is that the notion of a secret rapture that is distinct from the second coming of Christ is nowhere to be found in Scripture; Thessalonians makes clear that they are the same event.

But here’s the problem: all these North American Christians who still believe in so called ‘Left Behind’ theology or pretribulational rapture theology are going to be, potentially, some of the most confused among us. They won’t be able to identify what in fact is going on when the Antichrist comes on scene, because they are operating under the assumption that by time that happens the church will have already been raptured. I still listen to dispensational, pretribulational teachers—at the popular level, they are all Calvary Chapel pastors and teachers—and they constantly make the claim that we will not be here to see any of these ‘end time’ things unfold. But given the lack of exegetical support for their position (in fact there is absolutely none), they are sorely mistaken on this highly significant point. One thing they have going for them, though, is that they actually take the second coming of Christ as a serious and real event just on the horizon. It seems that many of my academic theology friends are in fact almost totally agnostic and thus aloof when it comes to these things; that’s a real shame. I digress. I think these pretrib teachers need to really attempt to honestly make an exegetical argument (which they never actually do) for the pretrib rapture position, and quit repeating the same tropes that have developed since the inception of the dispensational system; those aren’t exegetical arguments.

I strained for years to make exegetical arguments for the pretrib rapture position. I figured once I learned Koine Greek that I would finally be able to do that. Well I learned NT Greek, and it actually militated against the pretrib position, not for it. I understand the zeal with which some of these teachers make their claims about this position from; but I would challenge them to attempt to think critically about these things. They should try to imagine that the sub-culture they are ensconced within just might be what is forming their zeal, rather than actual biblically attuned exegetical arguments. Indeed, this is not a hard case to make; that is the case contra the pretrib position. The burdenous position is to argue for a coming of Christ that is distinct from His second coming. That is nowhere to be found in the Holy Scripture.

Q and Qanons: An American Gnosticism:: Comparing Q and Gnosticism and Contrasting with Historic Christianity

Until about six months ago I hadn’t paid attention to the Q phenomenon. Once the world took a turn for the crazy I started paying attention to Q and the so-called Qanons (Qanons are followers of Q who attempt to decode the various Q drops that show up on 8kun). I read Q’s drops, and have watched various videos made by Master Qanons. Personally, I think Q hits on some real life themes, like: systemic child sex trafficking that takes place at the highest levels of society (think Epstein, Maxwell, and associates); the idea that there is a movement catalyzed by Trump to counter this pedophiliac system; that the Occult is part-and-parcel for some of those associated with this pedophiliac activity (as I referred to here); that the mainstream media, owned by 6 corporations with the same globalist agenda, is part of this satanic cabal (you know, the Illuminati); so on and so forth. I have no problem believing any of that because all of that is out in the open; they aren’t even hiding anymore. The only people who won’t see that are those who don’t want to see that. But Q doesn’t stop there. It has an eschatology, and metaphysical schema; i.e. an ‘end-times’ theory, and sense of the supernatural that either comports with a deistic (impersonal) conception of God; or typically a more New Age monistic understanding of reality where humanity simply needs to self-actualize the universal energy embedded within each human being.

In this post I will attempt to sketch some parallels I see between ancient Gnosticism, and the Q belief system. I will focus, in particular on the correlation between secret knowledge; the decoding of that knowledge; the concept of ‘awakening’; and the idea that humanity’s ultimate goal/telos is to return to a status of ‘light’ from whence they had originally fallen. These are all component parts of both antique Gnosticism, and the contemporaneous phenomenon of Q that has currently swept over a particular demographic in Americana. To start let’s open with a summary of Q and Qanon offered by investigative journalist, Adrienne LaFrance:

If you were an adherent, no one would be able to tell. You would look like any other American. You could be a mother, picking leftovers off your toddler’s plate. You could be the young man in headphones across the street. You could be a bookkeeper, a dentist, a grandmother icing cupcakes in her kitchen. You may well have an affiliation with an evangelical church. But you are hard to identify just from the way you look—which is good, because someday soon dark forces may try to track you down. You understand this sounds crazy, but you don’t care. You know that a small group of manipulators, operating in the shadows, pull the planet’s strings. You know that they are powerful enough to abuse children without fear of retribution. You know that the mainstream media are their handmaidens, in partnership with Hillary Clinton and the secretive denizens of the deep state. You know that only Donald Trump stands between you and a damned and ravaged world. You see plague and pestilence sweeping the planet, and understand that they are part of the plan. You know that a clash between good and evil cannot be avoided, and you yearn for the Great Awakening that is coming. And so you must be on guard at all times. You must shield your ears from the scorn of the ignorant. You must find those who are like you. And you must be prepared to fight.

You know all this because you believe in Q.[1]

I think this is an accurate assessment of Q, in general; despite the fact that LaFrance ultimately repudiates the Q system as a tinhat formed cabal of belief that only quacks, and societal outliers would be prone towards. As you read her article in toto she, in some depth, gets into various elements of the Q revelational system; how it works; and what the various prophecies, made by Q, look like. She also gets into the coding system that Q has used since its inception, and the way Qanons have attempted to map and decode these codes; it is known as the Q Map, and it is like a flow chart that attempts to string together all the various Q drops in hopes of bringing clarity to Q’s various revelations about ‘the Plan.’ Yes, this is another motto of Q, it has many; three that stand out to me are: ‘trust the plan,’ ‘trust humanity,’ ‘where we go one we go all’ ( WWG1WGA). In reduction, as you read her article (and it largely comports with my experience with the Q community): Q is an American cult of belief, that looks to a deified agent (or agents) who has inner-secret-knowledge, who they believe is communicating with them in a way that will ‘awaken’ them (another hot word for Qanons) to the deep (dualistic) reality that stands behind the world. These revelations, ostensibly provided by Q, appeals to an inherent capacity embedded within each human being (like a divine spark) that simply (maybe ‘Socratically’) needs to be triggered, or awakened, by Q (a ‘redeemer’ figure). This awakening, through this revealed or secret knowledge, as the Qanons are re-sparked, will lead them back to a primal starting point, in themselves, which will allow them to be ‘digital soldiers,’ fighting the darkness (the demonic, even) overcoming it with the knowledge of the light that they have received from Q; their ‘redeemer’ figure. The ultimate hope for Qanons (and this is their eschatology), is that Trump, with their help, will defeat the darkness, and usher in a world of peace and security like the world has never known before (sounds like how the New Testament describes the coming of the Antichrist). Many, those deep into the Q mythology, maintain that John F. Kennedy, jr. faked his death, and that he is working alongside Trump to ‘drain the swamp,’ and usher in this new world of light and tranquility; a world that will initially be led by JFK, jr, as Trump will at that point step aside (this would be part of the metaphysical, and ‘redeemer’ mythology I was referring to earlier).

Now, in light of what I just described let me refer us to Ronald Nash, and his succinct description of classical Gnosticism. You will almost immediately begin to notice the parallels between Q and Gnosticism (of course these parallels only work if my sketch, along with LaFrance’s more developed treatment on Q is accurate—which I think it is). Nash writes (at length):

One of the more obvious beliefs of Gnosticism it its fundamental dualism. In the myth of the Gnostic Redeemer, this dualism is apparent in the conflict between the two worlds (light and darkness), the two superhuman forces (the good god of light and the demons of darkness), and the two parts to human beings (a good soul imprisoned in an evil body). God, spirit, and light are diametrically opposed to demons, matter, and darkness. The idea of the inherent evil of matter, it is impossible that he could have anything to do with bringing such a world into existence. Hence, the Gnostics reasoned, he did not. The material world must be the work either of evil demons (as noted in our account of the myth) or, in some versions, of a second and inferior god, akin to Plato’s Demiurge, whom heretical Christian Gnostics viewed as the Yahweh of the Old Testament.[2]

Before proceeding further with Nash’s sketch, let’s stop for a moment and make a qualification. Q and Qanons certainly operate with a dualistic concept of light versus darkness, but it is not framed by this idea of the material world being evil. Instead Q mythology often collapses this struggle of light and darkness into the immanent frame; in other words, they collapse the metaphysical reality of light, into the material reality where they believe this conflict will finally be resolved. With this sort of modification in mind, let’s continue on with Nash:

Human beings belong to both worlds—the spiritual world of the divine light and the material world of darkness. Human souls are sparks of the divine light that have become entrapped in matter. Unconscious of their divine origin and destiny but still impelled by a subconscious longing for the heavenly light from which they had fallen, these “pneumatics” (as they were called) were impelled to seek deliverance from their bondage of matter. The basic question of human existence is how to achieve deliverance from matter and finally return to the world of light and the god of that world.

Several things are necessary if human beings are to experience this redemption. For one thing, they need to be awakened from their slumber and reminded of their heavenly origin. The basic means by which humans attain salvation from the evil of matter is a special knowledge (gnosis) that they cannot attain themselves but only receive as a divine gift. This gnosis is not intellectual knowledge or philosophical speculation but a revelation from the good god. But it is not a knowledge that just anyone may obtain; it is a secret or esoteric knowledge made available only to those for whom it can be a means of salvation. “In some cases [gnōsis] is no more than a crude magical knowledge of spells and passwords, for to know the name of a god gives power over the owner of the name. In other cases, gnōsis meant an elevated mystical experience, a vision of the divine, a knowledge received by revelation from God Himself.” As explained by Gnostic specialist Hans Jonas,

The goal of gnostic striving is the release of the “inner man” from the bonds of the world and his return to his native realm of light. The necessary condition for this is that he know about the trans-mundane God and about himself, that is, about his divine origin as well as his present situation, and accordingly also about the nature of the world which determines this situation.[3]

Clearly there is not a one-for-one correlation between every aspect of ancient Gnosticism (developed in the 2nd Century, AD), but there is enough correlation between them that I think understanding some of the basic lineaments of Gnosticism proper allows it to be instructive towards the way we attempt to think about Q. Their shared emphases are: 1) a Redeemer figure (Q), 2) secret revelation needing to be decoded and understood by the ‘elect’ (Qanons), 3) salvation attained as the light aspect of the person is awakened by the Redeemer’s revelation, 4) and ultimate salvation as light returns to the source and all is made whole. I find these parallels to be instructive; and more than simply incidental.

The ultimate problem I have with Q, taken to its logical conclusion, is that just like with the original Gnosticism[s],  it is a riff and perversion of orthodox Christian teaching. It takes some elements, even basic elements, from Christian teaching and grammar, and remodels this teaching into a newfangled superstructure that ultimately has no correlation with what Christian teaching actually entails. The Christian hope is not secret; the Christian conception of revelation is personal, and is grounded in Jesus Christ and the triune God. Christians reject the concept of an inherent capacity latent within the individual that simply needs to be ‘awakened’; indeed, orthodox Christian teaching is directly counter to that. For orthodox Christians, we maintain, according to Scripture, that we are ‘dead in our trespasses and sins,’ and that outwith Jesus ‘becoming sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,’ we have no hope of eternal life or salvation.

When Q followers attempt to soften the themes of their own belief system, in order to make it more comportable with Christian teaching, they aren’t sufficiently appreciating how fundamentally distinct Q is from historic orthodox Christianity. Qanons, the Christian ones, will often attempt to bring the Q doctrine into line, or at least not in antagonism with Christian teaching. But when Q is deified, and it surely is, just at this point Q no longer is compatible with the Sacra Doctrina of historic and biblical Christian teaching.

For my money: I can recognize that Q has alerted people to various themes present in the broader culture and society, but that is as far as Q can go for me. None of the themes Q has alerted people to, though, are new to Q; except for Q’s claim that there is ‘a plan.’ But I had heard of such ‘plans’ long before Q came on the scene. My point: Q is not required in order to recognize that the world is up against a demonic hoard present in the highest echelons of government, entertainment, and mundane life the world over. This is what the cross of Jesus Christ has been bearing witness to ever since the beginning. I look to Jesus Christ as the Savior this world needs, and I trust His plan. I would challenge any Christian Q proponents out there to really think all of these things through. In my view, adherence to Q can be rather deleterious to your Christian walk. Q is indeed representative of a belief system, and its correlation is not with historic orthodox Christianity, but rather, with an orthodox Gnosticism that is at cross-purposes with the Evangel of the risen Christ.

 

[1] Adrienne LaFrance, “The Prophecies of Q: American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase,” The Atlantic (June 2020).

[2] Ronald H. Nash, Christianity&the Hellenstic World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 220.

[3] Ibid., 220-21.

Christian History::It Is, Jesus

Christian History is both similar to, and yet distinct from Greek conceptions of history during the time of Christ. Not surprising, a Christian notion of history has Christ as its centraldogma. Unique to Christian history is the concentration and even delimitation to other notions of histories that the resurrection and person of Jesus Christ present it with. I wasn’t going to share the following passage in this post, since I’ve shared it multiple times in other posts, but it is quite pertinent to the insight I want to share from Michael Gillespie on Christian history. The following is from Robert Dale Dawson, and his insight on how Barth’s doctrine of the resurrection of Christ impacts all of reality at a primal level. Dawson writes:

A large number of analyses come up short by dwelling upon the historical question, often falsely construing Barth’s inversion of the order of the historical enterprise and the resurrection of Jesus as an aspect of his historical skepticism. For Barth the resurrection of Jesus is not a datum of the sort to be analyzed and understood, by other data, by means of historical critical science. While a real event within the nexus of space and time the resurrection is also the event of the creation of new time and space. Such an event can only be described as an act of God; that is an otherwise impossible event. The event of the resurrection of Jesus is that of the creation of the conditions of the possibility for all other events, and as such it cannot be accounted for in terms considered appropriate for all other events. This is not the expression of an historical skeptic, but of one who is convinced of the primordiality of the resurrection as the singular history-making, yet history-delimiting, act of God.[1]

And here is Gillespie on Christian history. Maybe you will see how what he writes about the development of a Christian understanding of history qua Greek history, coheres quite nicely with the theological account of history-making referred to by Dawson with reference to Barth’s doctrine of the resurrection. Gillespie writes:

This synthesis of Christian theology and ancient history brought about a decisive and fundamental change in the conception of history itself. The original Greek sense of history as witness remains in Christian history, but it is no longer the knowledge of what is seen but the knowledge of God through the witness of the Apostles. History which had sought the eternal in the actual thus becomes the revelation of the eternal as such, the witness to the hidden truth or meaning of events as a whole, which comes to light and hence visibility in and through the Word, i.e., in and through Christ. History thus comes to rest not upon seeing or contemplation, i.e., not upon the immediate experience and apprehension of the eternal, but upon the authority and through the mediation of Scripture, i.e., through the Word itself. Thus history for Christianity is not the enquiry into or the account of events with a view to extracting and immortalizing noble deeds but the faith in the single event, the kairos, that reveals the hitherto hidden truth and order in all creation.

All Christian history in this sense is written sub specie aeternitatis. Time is no longer understood as the realm of transience, governed by caprice or destiny, but the unfolding of eternity backwards and forwards out of the moment of creation, i.e., out of the kairos in which Christ comes into the world. This single event is thus the key to all creation, since every other event follows from it and is only comprehensible in terms of it. History in this sense becomes prophetic, for just as the Old Testament prophets were able to foresee the coming of Christ by means of divine inspiration, so on the basis of this new dispensation the significance of the entire past and the entire future becomes comprehensible.[2]

If you are interested in reading a deeper theological account on these things you can always crack open sections of Barth’s Church Dogmatics I/1 where he elaborates with his normal genius on the concept of kairos that Gillespie refers to. To be clear, Gillespie’s development isn’t with reference to Barth, per se, but Barth, for my lights, exemplifies this conception of Christian History better than any other theologian that I am aware of. It is important to understand that for the Christian, history isn’t simply ditch wherein we must attempt to cipher out its esse, nor is it simply a linear unfolding of brute hard facts (even though history is made up of factual and concrete events); but for the Christian, history, is always understood from its eschatological telos as the Christ always already sits front and center as the gravitas from whence all of history flows. If this is the case, then Christian history is less focused on the linear unfolding of events, and their reconstruction, per se, and more focused on the apocalyptic in-breaking of history’s ultimate reality in the risen Jesus Christ. In other words, for the Christian, history is about Jesus because Jesus is God’s history for the world yesterday, today, and forever.

I cannot think of a better passage of Scripture to end this post on, but from what we find in Colossians 1:15 and following. Here we see the doctrine of the Primacy of Jesus Christ, and His emphasis as the image of God, as the firstborn from the dead, from whence all of reality is oriented and grounded for time immemorial. I leave you with a passage that the Scotist thesis sees as central, and what some have called ‘elevation theology’:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

 

[1] Robert Dale Dawson, The Resurrection in Karl Barth (UK/USA: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007), 13.

[2] Michael Allen Gillespie, Hegel, Heidegger, and the Ground of History (Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 1984), 6-7.