According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

N.T. Wright, "Paul and the Faithfulness of God" (Vol 4) - What Place Israel and the Church?

NT Wright and the Supersessionism Question: What did Paul do?
The replacement of Temple with Jesus and, secondarily and derivatively, with his people remains one of Paul’s central worldview-revisions, unnoticed in an earlier generation that chose to forget the significance of the Temple within Paul’s ancestral symbolic universe. He developed it further: the Messiah’s people, and the tasks they perform ‘in the Messiah’, are described in terms which reflect the people at the centre of Jerusalem and the Temple and the tasks they performed there. They were priests, offering sacrifices, indeed offering themselves as sacrifices, or, in Paul’s case, bringing the gentiles themselves as a quasi-sacrificial offering, with a kind of heavy irony, to Jerusalem. And Jerusalem itself, the focus of the longed-for centripetal pilgrimage of the nations, has been replaced by Jerusalem as the centrifugal originating point of the world mission. The redeemer does not now come to Zion but from Zion, going out into all the world to ‘gather the nations’, not by their coming to the central symbol of ancient Judaism, but by their becoming the central symbol, as we shall see, of the transformed world- view” (358).
Like Torah and food laws:
In the light of this, and of Paul’s own insistence that he took what he calls the ‘strong’ position, I find myself in agreement with those who have maintained that Paul did not himself continue to keep the kosher laws, and did not propose to, or require of, other ‘Jewish Christians’ that they should, either (359). 
Paul’s revising of the Jewish symbol of Torah in terms of food and table- fellowship, then, was clear, if necessarily complex. First, all those who belong to the Messiah, and are defined by Messiah-faithfulness and baptism, belong at the same table: this, as we shall see, is a constitutive part of his most central new positive symbol. Second, Messiah-followers are free to eat whatever they wish, with that freedom curtailed only (but strongly) when someone else’s ‘weak’ conscience is endangered. Third, Messiah-followers are free to eat ordinary meals with anyone they like, but not with someone who professes to be one of the family but whose behaviour indicates otherwise. Fourth (an extra but important point), Messiah-followers are not free to go into a pagan temple and eat there. To do so would be to stage a contest with the lord himself. All this is not just ‘ethics’. It is a matter of a freshly crafted symbolic universe (361).
Similar, and just as interesting, observations are made about circumcision and sabbath and prayer and land and zeal/the Battle (with the satan, et al) and Scripture itself. Supersessionism? No, I don’t think. Fulfillment? Certainly. Revision? That’s the key term here. Faith in Messiah turns the old inside out and makes the old new without abolishing it.
 
He turns then to briefer escapades into worldview and paganism and then worldview and empire, on the latter he opens with this reminder, something in need of saying because so many think anti-empire means anarchism too: “The answer to corrupt authorities is not anarchy” (381). But he returns to the implication of a confession by way of a denial:
Jesus is ‘son of God’; he is ‘lord of the world’; he is ‘saviour’; the worldwide revelation of his rule is ‘good news’, because through it ‘justice’ and ‘peace’ are brought to birth at last. He is the one who ‘rises to rule the nations’. The announcement of all this is the key source, for Paul, of ‘power’, and in Ephesians, which is either Paul’s greatest summary of his own teach- ing or the work of a careful and close colleague and imitator, he speaks eloquently about the power of the one God at work in the Messiah, a power which has raised him above all rule, authority, power and dominion, and above every name that is named, both in the present age and in the age to come. Anyone who had seen the Eagle at work, and had heard its names and claims, would know what was being said. We must advance this case more fully later on (383).
On countering the breathtaking power of the story at work in empire and Rome …
Paul does not mention this story explicitly, any more than he speaks of the imperial claim made by coins, statues and other obvious imagery. Yet we should not ignore the subversive nature of the retold Jewish story which undergirds so much of his writing. If this – the story of Adam, Abraham and Israel, climaxing in the Messiah! – is the grand narrative of the creator’s design for his world, then the grand narrative of Virgil, Horace and Livy, and the visual symbolism which went with those writings, cannot be true, or the ultimate truth. That is the dilemma which Paul posed to his readers. The extent to which they will have ‘heard’ that subversive note is a question to which we must return (383).
Put together then we are back to the anti-empire theme:
When Paul said, ‘Jesus is lord,’ a good many of his hearers must have known at once that this meant, ‘So Caesar isn’t.’ And that was the ‘good news’, the euangelion which Paul announced around the world. Was that a subversion of the symbolic world of the empire? How could it not be? How would that work out? (384)


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